CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 087635 CRS

Mr. John Nakadime
ICI Worldwide, Inc.
P.O. Box 8
San Dimas, CA 91773

RE: Insulated plastic lunch box/cooler designed to be carried with the person a separate and distinct class of merchandise from articles for the conveyance and packing of goods of heading 3923.

Dear Mr. Nakadime:

This is in reply to your letter dated June 15, 1990, to our New York office, concerning the classification of a plastic carrying case under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA).


The article in question is an insulated container made from moulded plastics material and is designed to transport and store small quantities of food and/or drink for short periods of time. The container is approximately 10 inches long by 7 inches wide by 8 inches deep. The interior space is slightly less than that which would be required to hold a six pack of 12 ounce beverage cans. A lid covers the top of the article and is locked into place when the container's handle is in a raised position. The lid is inscribed with the words "lunch box" in capital letters.


Whether the container in question is similar to trunks and suitcases such that it is classifiable in heading 4202, HTSUSA, or whether it is classifiable as a plastic container for the conveyance or packing of goods.


Articles are classified under the HTSUSA in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 provides that the classification of articles is determined by terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes and, provided the headings or notes do not otherwise require, according to the remaining GRIs taken in order.

Heading 3923, HTSUSA, covers articles for the conveyance or packing of goods, of plastics. The Explanatory Notes, which although not legally binding nevertheless constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level, provides in pertinent part at EN 39.23, 574, that:

This heading covers all articles of plastics commonly used for the packing or conveyance of all kinds of products. The articles covered include:

(a) Containers such as boxes, cases, crates, sacks and bags (including cones and refuse sacks), casks, cans, carboys, bottles and flasks.

In Headquarters Ruling Letters (HRL) 083362 and 084246 dated July 21, 1989, similar moulded plastic coolers which also included special compartments and smaller containers were classified in subheading 3923.10.0000, HTSUSA.

The "lunch box" is a container used for the conveyance of other goods and would therefore appear to be prima facie classifiable in heading 3923. However, in Customs' view the articles enumerated in the Explanatory Notes at EN 39.23 have in common certain characteristics, viz., that they are used generally to convey or transport goods over long distances and often, in large quantities. In this regard, the instant lunch box which is used to carry small quantities of food for short periods of time and, presumably, over relatively short distances, is distinguishable from such articles as casks and carboys.

Heading 4202, HTSUSA, provides for trunks, suitcases, vanity cases, attache cases, briefcases, school satchels...and similar containers. Note 2(h), Chapter 39, excludes trunks, suitcases and handbags of heading 4202 from the scope of Chapter 39.

With regard to heading 4202 the Explanatory Notes state in relevant part:

This heading covers only the articles specifically named therein and similar containers.

These containers may be rigid or with a rigid foundation, or soft and without foundation.

As the heading is silent on the matter of coolers and lunch boxes, the issue is whether these articles are similar to the containers which are specifically referenced.

The enumerated containers of heading 4202 are a disparate group. They are designed to hold a range of articles including, but not limited to, clothing, papers, toiletries, spectacles, binoculars and guns. As a general matter, they are used to carry, store or protect personal items.

In Prepac, Inc. v. United States, 433 F. Supp. 339 (1977), plastic bags with handles, zippered enclosures and which were insulated with fiberglass or polyethylene were classified as luggage in item 706.60, Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS), the predecessor tariff to the HTSUSA. In Aladdin Int'l. Corp. v. United States, Slip Op. 89-171 (CIT 1989), a plastic lunch box was held to be classifiable under item 706.62, TSUS. There the court stated:

In the case at bar...the lunch box was clearly intended to be covered by the provision for luggage under TSUS item 706.62. The lunch box is ejusdem generis with the enumerated articles in headnote 2(a)(ii). Like the exemplars listed in the headnote, the lunch or "sandwich" box is designed to store, organize and protect the lunch (food or beverages) or the sandwich contained within, from which the container derives its name. Furthermore, like the exemplars in headnote 2(a)(ii), the lunch box is designed to be carried with the person.

Since the function of the cooler at issue is to carry and store one's food, we think it is ejusdem generis with the containers of heading 4202 and consequently, that it is excluded from heading 3923 by virtue of Note 2(h), Chapter 39.


The plastic lunch box/cooler is classifiable in subheading 4202.12.2090, HTSUSA, under the provision 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, and is dutiable at the rate of 20 percent ad valorem.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the restraint (quota/visa) categories, you should contact your local Customs office prior to importation of this merchandise to

determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division