CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 087210 SLR
William J. Maloney, Esq.
Rode & Qualey
295 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10017
RE: Luggage, Handbag, Wallet and Credit Card Cases;
Plastic Coated Textile Material, Leather Trim;
Outer Surface of Plastic Sheeting; Exterior Surface
Dear Mr. Maloney:
This is in response to your letter of May 21, 1990, on
behalf of your client, Michael Cromer, Ltd., requesting the
classification for various luggage, handbag, and flatgood
articles under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United
States Annotated (HTSUSA). A full color catalogue, along with
a swatch of the coated fabric used in the production of the
above-mentioned articles, was submitted for our examination.
The five items at issue are identified as:
1. Milano #138 (a handbag with shoulderstrap)
2. Travelbag #006
3. Jet-Suitcase with Casters #082 (a pullman suitcase)
4. Wallet #013
5. Credit Card Case #157
Each item is manufactured of the same materials. Each is
composed largely of textile material coated on one side with
polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics. The PVC is a non-cellular
plastics material and the textile is said to be 51 percent cotton
by weight. Items 138, 006, and 082 have leather trim; items 013
and 157 do not. All of the items bear the distinctive "MCM"
In your letter, you acknowledge that the above-described
items are classifiable in heading 4202, HTSUSA. At the heading
level, you believe these goods to be of textile. You question,
however, whether at the the six-digit subheading level the PVC
coating constitutes the outer surface of these articles. You
maintain that their outer surface is of either leather or textile
What constitutes the outer surface of the subject
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is in
accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's),
taken in order. GRI 1 provides that classification is determined
according to the terms of the headings and any relative section
or chapter notes.
Heading 4202, HTSUSA, provides for, among other articles:
Trunks, suitcases...; traveling bags, handbags,
similar containers, of leather or of composition
leather, of plastic sheeting, of textile materials,
...or wholly or mainly covered with such materials.
Items 138, 006, 082, 013, and 157 are classifiable in
heading 4202, HTSUSA. Either each item is specifically provided
for in the heading or it qualifies as a similar container.
Customs agrees that at the heading level, items 138, 006, 013,
and 157 are of textile materials. [As for item 082, its
classification is not predicated upon the presence of any
The specific subheadings which apply to the merchandise at
issue is controlled by the composition of the outer surface of
each item. The material used here is a combination of plastics
and textile materials. Thus, when resolving classification, it
is necessary to determine whether the plastic coating or textile
base constitutes the outer surface of these goods.
The Customs and Trade Act of 1990 [hereinafter "Act"] was
passed by Congress and signed into law by the President on
August 20, 1990. Section 473 of the Act added Additional U.S.
Legal Note (2) to Chapter 42, HTSUSA, to clarify how
"outer surface" determinations should be made. It reads:
2. For purposes of classifying articles under
subheadings 4202.12, 4202.22, 4202.32, and 4202.92,
articles of textile fabric impregnated, coated, covered
or laminated with plastics (whether compact or
cellular) shall be regarded as having an outer surface
of textile material or of plastic sheeting, depending
upon whether and the extent to which the textile
constituent or the plastic constituent makes up the
exterior surface of the article.
In other words, an article comprised of a plastics and textile
combination which is considered to be of textile at the
four-digit heading level may nonetheless at the six-digit
subheading level have an outer surface of plastic sheeting if the
plastic constituent makes up the exterior surface of the article.
Such is the case here. The cross section of the sample swatch
clearly reveals that the only material present on the exterior
surface is the plastic coating.
As to counsel's contention that the leather material
constitutes the outer surface of the subject items, Customs
has stated that:
[W]e do not include straps and handles as
constituting part of the outer surface area....
It is our position that only the outer surface
of the main body of [an article] should be measured
in arriving at a decision as to what material
predominates in outer surface area.
(See Headquarters Ruling Letter 081224 of September 26, 1989.)
Consequently, Customs will not take into account the leather trim
of items 138, 006, and 082 when determining their outer surface.
Likewise, Customs will not consider the leather material of
items 013 and 157. Wallets and credit card cases, in their
natural state, are closed. The leather found in items 013
and 157 is only visible when the items are unfolded. This area
does not make up part of the "outer surface" for tariff
Item 138, Milano handbag, is classifiable in subheading
4202.22.1500, which provides for handbags, with or without
shoulder straps, including those without handle: with outer
surface of plastic sheeting or of textile materials: with outer
surface of plastic sheeting. The applicable rate of duty
is 20 percent ad valorem.
Item 006, travel bag, is classifiable in subheading
4202.92.4500, HTSUSA, which provides for other [travel goods]
(other than luggage, handbags, or articles of a kind normally
carried in the pocket or handbag): with outer surface of plastic
sheeting or of textile materials: travel, sports and similar
bags, other (than with an outer surface of textile materials).
The applicable rate of duty is 20 percent ad valorem.
Item 082, jet suitcase, is classifiable in subheading
4202.12.2050, HTSUSA, which provides for trunks, suitcases,
vanity cases, attache cases, briefcases, school satchels and
similar containers: with outer surface of plastics or of textile
materials: with outer surface of plastics, other (than
structured, rigid on all sides): trunks, suitcases, vanity cases
and similar containers. The applicable rate of duty
is 20 percent ad valorem.
Item 013, wallet and 157, credit card case are classifiable
in subheading 4202.32.2000, HTSUSA, which provides for articles
of a kind normally carried in the pocket or in the handbag: with
outer surface of plastic sheeting or of textile materials: with
outer surface of plastic sheeting: other (than of reinforced or
laminated plastics). The applicable rate of duty is 20 percent
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division