CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 081298 SM
S. Richard Shostak, Esq.
Stein, Shostak, Shostak & O'Hara
1101 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036-4704
RE: Tariff classification of carpet sample displays
Dear Mr. Shostak:
Your letter of November 6, 1987, on behalf of Sunday
Samples requests a tariff classification ruling for five types
of carpet sample displays.
Samples of the various styles were submitted. All con-
tain samples of U.S. origin carpet and some printed informa-
tion about them.
The contract carpet folder consists of four nine-by-
twelve-inch coated paperboard panels with glued-on carpet
samples. The panels are grooved to fold over each other. Two
samples can be lifted to reveal the printed information.
The loose-leaf sample catalog is a ring binder approxi-
mately ten by twelve inches. It contains hole-punched paper-
board pages to which carpet samples are attached. Printed
information appears on the back of each page.
Sample sets are collections of carpet samples approxi-
mately eighteen by twenty-four inches with edges either
finished with binding tape or beveled on a cutting machine.
Four to ten printed textile labels are affixed to the back of
The residential catalog book, approximately eighteen by
sixteen inches, consists of three pieces of paperboard inside
a plastic cover, riveted together, and provided with a plastic
handle. It contains two master carpet samples with bound
edges and printed labels on the back, and a series of smaller
samples mounted on the inside of the back cover.
The chain set is a series of samples fastened to three-
by-five paperboard cards with printed information on the back.
They are hole-punched and held together by a bead-type chain.
You suggest that the sample displays are classifiable
either as charts under heading 4905, Harmonized Tariff Sched-
ule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), or as catalogs
under heading 4911, HTSUSA.
Are the carpet sample displays classified as either
charts or catalogs, and if not, how are they classified?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Classification under the HTSUSA is in accordance with
the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 provides
that classification is determined first in accordance with the
terms of the headings of the tariff and any relative section
or chapter notes; and then, if the headings or notes do not
otherwise require, in accordance with the remaining GRI's.
Some provision for samples is made under subheading
9811.00.60, HTSUSA, but since articles classifiable under that
provision must be used for soliciting orders for products of
foreign countries, it is not applicable in this case.
Heading 4905, HTSUSA, refers, as you indicate, to
"charts." However, the complete description is: "Maps and
hydrographic or similar charts of all kinds, including
atlases, wall maps, topographical plans and globes, printed."
The Explanatory Notes, the official interpretation of the
HTSUSA at the international level, for this heading indicate
that it is intended to include "maps, charts and plans
designed to represent the natural or artificial features of
countries, towns, seas, the heavens, etc., conventional signs
being used to indicate contours, etc." The carpet sample
displays do not portray any physical or political geographical
features, and are clearly not the type of article intended to
be classified under this heading.
Heading 4911, HTSUSA, provides for "other printed mat-
ter, including printed pictures and photographs." The Explan-
atory Notes indicate that this heading is intended to cover
all printed matter of the chapter not more particularly
covered by any preceding headings. Goods classified under
this heading must therefore be, first of all, printed matter
of the chapter.
The General Explanatory Notes for Chapter 49 state:
With the few exceptions referred to below, this
Chapter covers all printed matter of which the
essential nature and use is determined by the fact
of its being printed with motifs, characters, or
. . .
For the purposes of this Chapter, the term
'printed' includes not only reproduction by the
several methods of ordinary hand printing . . .
or mechanical printing . . . but also reproduc-
tion by duplicating machines . . . photocopy-
ing . . . .
Thus, in considering classification under this heading we must
decide whether the essential nature and use of the carpet
sample displays is determined by the fact that they contain
The printing is certainly of great importance in the use
of the goods to advertise and sell carpet. It informs the
customer as to the style, color name, and color number of the
carpet, and provides information about its fiber content,
weight, warranty, price, available sizes, country of origin,
and performance characteristics.
However, the carpet samples are equally essential in the
use of the displays. If they were not, they could have been
replaced by illustrations. Printed advertising materials of
many types, provided for under heading 4911, HTSUSA, illus-
trate all sorts of merchandise offered for sale. Neverthe-
less, in this case it was clearly considered important for the
customer to be able to see and feel the texture and color of
the goods themselves. The printed text and the samples assume
equal importance; therefore, the goods are not essentially
printed matter and cannot be classified under heading 4911,
Various headings of the tariff provide for components of
the carpet sample displays. Heading 4802, HTSUSA, provides
for binders, folders, and albums for samples, of paper or
paperboard, such as those of the contract carpet folder and
the loose-leaf sample catalog. Heading 4202, HTSUSA, pro-
vides for various containers such as the plastic-covered car-
rier with handle of the residential catalog book. Heading
4823 provides for other articles of paper or paperboard, such
as the cards of the chain set; heading 7315, HTSUSA, provides
for chain and parts thereof, of iron and steel. Heading 6307
provides for other made up textile articles. Except for the
sample sets, which consist of nothing but labeled carpet sam-
ples, none of the five displays appears to be fully covered by
any one heading; therefore, except for that one sample, none
of the goods can be classified in accordance with GRI 1.
GRI 2(a), concerning incomplete or unassembled articles,
is not applicable here.
GRI 2(b) provides that when a heading refers to goods of
a given material, it shall be taken to include a reference to
goods consisting wholly or partly of such material. Thus each
of the headings mentioned above is expanded to include the
carpet sample displays, consisting not only of the named
material--plastic, paperboard, textile, or chain-- but of
other materials as well. GRI 2(b) concludes with the
provision that goods consisting of more than one material are
classified according to GRI 3.
GRI 3(a), concerning preference for the heading giving
the most specific description of the goods, does not resolve
classification when, as here, each heading refers to part only
of the materials contained in composite goods.
GRI 3(b) provides that composite goods consisting of
different materials are to be classified as if consisting of
that material that gives them their essential character, if it
can be determined. The Explanatory Notes for GRI 3(b) indi-
cate that the essential character of goods made up of differ-
ent materials may be determined, for example, by the nature of
the material, its bulk, quantity, weight, value, or role in
relation to the use of the goods.
In the case of all four displays consisting of different
materials--the contract carpet folder, the loose-leaf sample
catalog, the residential catalog book, and the chain set--
comparison of the textile portions with the nontextile mater-
ials indicates that it is the textile portions that provide
the essential character of the goods. The folder, the loose-
leaf binder, the plastic container, and the cards and chain
all serve only to support and display the carpet samples and
are of no particular interest in themselves. The primary use
of the articles--indeed the only use--is to advertise and sell
carpet. Without the samples, the displays would have nothing
The five carpet sample displays are classified under
subheading 6307.90.9030, HTSUSA, a provision for other made up
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division
6cc: Area Director of Customs
New York Seaport Area
cc: Legal Reference Section
cc: Phil Robins
cc: Jenny Johnson
cc: NIS Carl Abramowitz
cc: NIS Anthony Falcone
cc: NIS Alan Tytleman
cc: NIS Richard Eyskens