CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 089760 STB

Mr. David A. Eisen
Siegel, Mandell & Davidson, P.C.
One Whitehall Street
New York, N.Y. 10004

RE: Spare Key Keeper

Dear Mr. Eisen:

This letter is in response to your inquiry of May 16, 1991, requesting the tariff classification of a plastic, magnetic "Spare Key Keeper" to be imported from China and/or Taiwan. A sample was submitted with your request.


The sample submitted with your inquiry is a black, plastic box with a ceramic magnet attached to the underside. The box, measuring approximately 3-1/2 inches in length, 2 inches in width, and 11/16 inch in height, opens and closes by sliding the top section forward. A foam pad inside the box provides a tight fit for the key and prevents rattling in instances in which the box with key is attached to a moving object. The box, with a key inside, is designed to attach to any metal surface.

In an additional submission dated October 2, 1991, you forwarded to our office marketing information concerning this merchandise. This submission consists of an advertisement for several items, one of which is the "Spare Key Keeper." The headline of the one paragraph of text reads "Ever Been Locked Out of Your Car?"; the advertisement continues by describing the merchandise, emphasizing the advantages inherent in using the item in an automobile.



Whether the Spare Key Keeper is classified as an automobile accessory, a ceramic magnet, or as a plastic box.


Classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). The systematic detail of the harmonized system is such that virtually all goods are classified by application of GRI 1, that is, according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relevant 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 otherwise require, the remaining GRI's may then be applied.

First, we must determine whether the subject item is classifiable as a part or accessory of one of the motor vehicles of headings 8701 to 8705. To qualify for this classification, an article must meet three criteria set forth and explained in the General Explanatory Notes to Section XVII, and the notes for heading 8708. Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, Explanatory Notes, Vol.4, pp. 1410-1412, and pp. 1432- 1433. The criteria set forth in the General Explanatory Notes to Section XVII provide that parts or accessories must:

(a)...not be excluded by the terms of Note 2 to this Section...;

(b) They must be suitable for use solely or principally with the articles of Chapters 86 to 88...; and,

(c) They must not be more specifically included elsewhere in the Nomenclature....

The notes for heading 8708 provide that parts or accessories of the motor vehicles of headings 8701 to 8705 must meet the following conditions:

(i) They must be identifiable as being suitable for use solely or principally with the above-mentioned vehicles; and

(ii) They must not be excluded by the provisions of the Notes to Section XVII....

It is our determination that the subject key keeper is not classifiable as an automobile part or accessory because it is not "suitable for use solely or principally" with motor vehicles.


This item is suitable for a variety of uses in a variety of locations and is no less suitable for other possible uses than it is for use with motor vehicles. Items such as these are sometimes used on refrigerators to keep spare keys readily available. They can be used with a boat, motorcycle, a private home or apartment (such as by being attached to the underside of an air conditioner), an office, garage, locker, tool shed, etc. The importer contends that the black color of the box renders it especially suitable for use with automobiles because it will blend in with, and thus be camouflaged by, a black automobile bumper or the dark undercarriage of a vehicle. We believe, however, that the dark color of the item renders it easier to hide in any of the various possible locations and does not indicate that the item is principally suited for use with motor vehicles. Although the spare key keeper may be marketed as being principally for use with automobiles, as your submission seems to indicate, the item itself does not exhibit this limitation.

Heading 8505, HTSUSA, provides for, among other things, "[p]ermanent magnets...permanent magnet chucks, clamps and similar holding devices." The Explanatory Note to heading 8505 indicates, in pertinent part, that the heading does not cover "permanent magnets...when presented with machines, apparatus, toys, games, etc., of which they are designed to form part (classified with those machines, apparatus, etc.)."

Here, the magnet component was designed to form part of the subject article. Since the magnet is presented with and incorporated into the plastic box, it is precluded from classification as a permanent magnet in heading 8505.

The item in question is made of two components, the ceramic magnet and the plastic box. As a result, the merchandise is possibly classifiable under several headings, namely: heading 3924, HTSUSA, which provides for other household articles of plastics; heading 3926, HTSUSA, which provides for other articles of plastics; heading 6912, HTSUSA, which provides for household articles of ceramic; and heading 6914, HTSUSA, which provides for other ceramic articles.

First, we note that headings 3924, HTSUSA, and 6912, HTSUSA, can be eliminated from consideration. These headings refer to household articles; as described supra, there are a variety of possible uses for this merchandise. There is nothing about the design of the item which can be said to demonstrate that the key keeper is principally suited for use as a household article.


We are thus left with two possible headings; heading 3926, HTSUSA, which provides for other articles of plastics and heading 6914, HTSUSA, which provides for other ceramic articles. GRI 3(a) indicates that when an item is classifiable under two or more headings, the heading providing the most specific description shall be preferred; however, when each heading refers to part only of the materials contained in the composite item, those headings are to be regarded as equally specific, even if one of them gives a more complete description of the item. Here, each of the headings describes only part of the merchandise. Accordingly, both headings are regarded as equally specific, and the classification of the refrigerator magnet cannot be determined by the application of GRI 3(a).

GRI 3(b) provides that composite goods made up of different components, which cannot be classified by reference to GRI 3(a), are classified by the component which gives them their essential character. "Essential character" may be determined by the nature of the component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods.

We find that the ceramic magnet provides the essential character of the "Spare Key Keeper." It is the magnet that allows the key to be attached to, and thus hidden under or above, various locations. It is the magnet that allows the key to be attached to various items, such as a refrigerator, for purposes of convenience if nothing else. Without the magnet, the plastic box would have very little, if any, use. Accordingly, since the magnet performs the crucial role in relation to the use of the article, the entire article must be classified under the heading which best describes the magnet, i.e., heading 6914, HTSUSA, the provision for other ceramic articles.


The subject item known as the "Spare Key Keeper" is properly classified in subheading 6914.90.0000, HTSUSA, the provision for other ceramic articles, other. The applicable duty rate is 8% ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division