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HQ H005082

March 29, 2007



TARIFF NO.: 3926.90.4800

Ms. Evi Binder
Customs Analyst
Westrim, Inc.
P.O. Box 7381
Van Nuys, CA 91409-7381

RE: Scrapbook Albums from China

Dear Ms. Binder:

This is in response to your request dated November 17, 2006, on behalf of Westrim Crafts, seeking a binding ruling concerning the classification of certain scrapbook album kits under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUSA). Your initial request for a binding ruling on this item was submitted on August 9, 2006, but it did not include a breakdown of the costs of each of the components in the kit as did the letter dated November 17, 2006.

Your letter and sample was forwarded to this office for our response.


The merchandise at issue is a 12 x 12 “ Post Bound Album/All Occasion Scrapbook Kit. The kit contains over 800 pieces. The main component of the kit is a 12-inch square post-bound album with a paperboard cover and 10 top load plastic page protectors. The kit includes 20 sheets of patterned papers, 6 sheets of white paper, 8 sheets of color paper and hundreds of embellishments. The embellishments include textile ribbons, plastic stickers and pop-up dots, and paperboard borders, journaling blocks, photo frames, tags and art shapes.


What is the proper classification under the HTSUS for a scrapbook album kit?


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not require otherwise, then CBP may apply the remaining GRIs.

In interpreting the headings and subheadings, CBP looks to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs), which constitute the official interpretation of the HTSUS. While not legally binding or dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS and, generally, indicate the proper interpretation of headings. See T.D. 89-80, 54 FR 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

3926 Other articles of plastics and articles of other materials of headings 3901 to 3914: 3926.90 Other:
3926.90.4800 Photo albums

4820 Registers, account books, notebooks, order books, receipt books, letter pads, memorandum pads, diaries and similar articles, exercise books, blotting pads, binders (looseleaf or other), folders, file covers, manifold business forms, interleaved carbon sets and other articles of stationery, of paper or paperboard; albums for samples or for collections and book covers (including cover boards and book jackets) of paper or paperboard: 4820.50.00 Albums for samples or for collections

The subject merchandise consists of separate components that are each classifiable under different headings. Here, the separate components consist of a scrapbook album, paper inserts, plastic sheeting and assorted embellishments including textile ribbons, plastic stickers, pop-up dots, and paperboard borders, journaling blocks, photo frames, tags and art shapes. As a result, the merchandise cannot be classified under GRI 1, and CBP must apply the remaining GRIs. When “goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings, then classification” shall be made pursuant to GRI 3, which states the following:

(a) The heading, which provides the most specific description, shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description. However, when two or more headings each refer to part only of the materials or substances contained in mixed or composite goods or to part only of the items in a set put up for retail sale, those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to those goods, even if one of them gives a more complete or precise description of the goods.

(b) Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale, which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

(c) When goods cannot be classified by reference to 3(a) or 3(b), they shall be classified under the heading which occurs last in numerical order among those which equally merit consideration.

In the instant case, the respective headings for each of the separate components is equally specific and, therefore the merchandise is not classifiable by GRI 3(a). Proceeding to GRI 3(b), the first issue CBP considers is whether the subject merchandise are goods put up in sets. EN X for GRI 3(b) defines “goods put up in sets for retail sale” as such goods that: (a) consist of at least two different articles that are prima facie classifiable in different headings; (b) consist of products put up together to meet a particular need or carry out a specific activity; and (c) are put up in a manner suitable for sale directly to users without repacking.

The subject merchandise is a set of goods for retail sale within the definition provided by the EN X to GRI 3(b). The merchandise consists of a scrapbook album with plastic page protectors, paper sheets and assorted embellishments, which are prima facie classifiable in different headings. The merchandise carries out the specific activity of functioning as a scrapbook to display photographs, which can be decorated with the stickers or paper designs. Finally, the merchandise is sold as a single good directly to the user.

Since the subject merchandise consists of goods put up in sets, the essential character of the item determines its ultimate classification. According to EN VIII to GRI 3(b), the factor, which establishes the essential character, will vary between different goods. Common factors used to decide the essential character may include the nature of the material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods.

There have been several court decisions on “essential character” for purposes of GRI 3(b). These cases have looked primarily to the role of the constituent materials or components in relation to the use of the goods to determine essential character. See Better Home Plastics Corp. v. United States, 916 F. Supp. 1265 (CIT 1996), affirmed, 119 F.3d 969 (Fed. Cir. 1997); Vista International Packaging Co., v. United States, 19 CIT 868, 890 F. Supp. 1095 (1995); See also, Pillowtex Corp. v. United States, 983 F. Supp. 188 (CIT 1997), affirmed, CAFC No. 98-1227 (March 16, 1999).

The component that provides the scrapbook album kit with its essential character is the plastic sheeting of the scrapbook album. The primary use of the scrapbook album is to store photos and pictures and the plastic sheeting facilitates that function. In particular, it is the plastic sheeting over the paper inserts that secures the photos in the album. Though other materials play a role in the use of the album like the cover that binds the album or the paper inserts that the pictures are placed on, it is the plastic sheeting that allows the purchaser to protect and organize photos and pictures. Accordingly, the merchandise is classifiable as a scrapbook with plastic sleeves.

In regards to cost breakdown that you provided, CBP acknowledges that costs can be indicative of the essential character of merchandise; but, the cost of certain materials in a good is not dispositive of its essential character. Rather, the factors that are relevant in an essential character test can vary and, in this instance, the predominate use of the plastic sleeves in displaying and protecting photos and pictures imparts the essential character. We find that scrapbook albums are in all material respects similar to photograph albums. It has been the practice of CBP to classify photograph albums according to the material of the pages and not the material of the cover or inserts. See HQ W968250, dated August 3, 2006; NY M81024, dated April 3, 2006; NY L87797, dated October 24, 2005; NY L84420, dated May 23, 2005; NY H87735, dated February 21, 2002; NY 185926, dated September 30, 2002; NY 184082, dated August 6, 2002; NY H82195, dated July 9, 2001; NY F87436, dated June 15, 2000; HQ 951845, dated August 20, 1992.

Prior to 2007, CBP has consistently classified similar merchandise in heading 3924, HTSUS. See HQ W968250, dated August 3, 2006; NY H87735, dated February 21, 2002; NY L84420, dated May 23, 2005. CBP has, also, regularly classified photo albums by the merchandise’s plastic sleeve. See NY M81024, dated April 3, 2006; NY L87797, dated October 24, 2005; NY I85926, dated September 30, 2002; NY I84082, dated August 6, 2002; NY H82195, dated July 9, 2001. Specifically, in HQ 951845, dated August 20, 1992, CBP held that a photo album with paper inserts, plastic filler pages, and an outer surface composed of cellular plastics with a textile fabric reinforcement was correctly classified in heading 3924, HTSUS. Accordingly, the instant merchandise should be classified according to the plastic sleeves.

Pursuant to title 19 United States Code, Section 3005, the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States was amended to reflect changes recommended by the World Customs Organization. The proclaimed changes are effective for goods entered or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption on or after February 3, 2007. See Presidential Proclamation 8097, 72 FR 453, Volume 72, No. 2 (January 4, 2007). As part of the proclaimed changes, Additional U.S. Note 5 to Chapter 39, HTSUS, was added, which states: “[f]or the purposes of heading 3924, the expression ‘household articles’ does not include photo albums (see subheading 3926.90.48)”. The 2007 HTSUS specifically provides for photo albums in subheading 3926.90.48. In accordance with the rationale of the previous rulings in addition to the 2007 HTSUS amendments, the scrapbook albums at issue should be classified in heading 3926, HTSUS. These amendments bring the HTSUS in conformity with the HSC decision to classify photograph albums with plastic sleeves as other articles of plastics in subheading 3926.90.4800, HTSUS.

Notably, the only instance where CBP has classified scrapbook albums in heading 4820, HTSUS, is when the subject merchandise does not have a plastic sleeve at all. See NY M82265, dated May 19, 2006; NY K88852, dated September 9, 2004; NY J87084, dated August 25, 2003. In the instant case, the merchandise is more like the photo and scrapbook albums classified in Chapter 39, HTSUS, than the scrapbooks classified in heading 4820, HTSUS, because the subject merchandise has plastic sleeves.


By application of GRI 3(b), the scrapbook albums are classified under heading 3926, HTSUS, specifically subheading 3926.90.4800, HTSUSA, which provides for “Other articles of plastics and articles of other materials of headings 3901 to 3914: Other: Photo albums.” The column one, general rate of duty is 3.4 percent ad valorem.


Gail A. Hamill, Chief
Tariff Classification and Marking Branch

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