CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 951404 JED

Mr. Bruce A. Bell
W.N. Proctor Division
Tower Group International
115 Broad Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02110

RE: Reconsideration of New York Ruling (NY) 870044; Classification of vanity cases

Dear Mr. Bell:

This is in reply to your letter of March 5, 1992, requesting reconsideration of NY 870044, a classification ruling placing two plastic vanity cases within Heading 4202, HTSUSA.


Two vanity cases are involved. Both are made of molded plastics. The larger of the two, identified by molded-in marking on the bottom of the case as NO. 22106, measures approximately 11" long x 5 1/2" high x 7 1/2" deep. There is a handle recessed into the lid and the case is closable by a heart-shaped plastic latch. There is a mirror attached to the inside of the lid. The bottom half of the case has two compartments, one subdivided into two smaller spaces, which slide on plastic tracks to permit access to the bottom portion of the case. The two sliding compartments are removable. The top half of the case has two stickers affixed to the exterior; one marked "PRETTY FACE VANITY CASE", the other displaying colorful geometric designs.

The smaller case measures approximately 8" long x 2 1/2" high x 4 1/2" deep. The case is closeable by a plastic latch. There is a mirror attached to the inside of the lid. When the case is opened, a user is presented with an attached upper tray, divided into two compartments, which swings up and back to permit access to the bottom portion of the case, also divided into two compartments.

New York Ruling Letter (NY) 870044 (January 7, 1992) placed these cases in subheading 4202.12.2020, HTSUSA, "Trunks, suitcases, vanity cases and similar containers, with outer -2-

surface of plastics...Structured, rigid on all sides."

Your request for reconsideration of that ruling stated your objections. First, you believe that for any article to be considered similar to the articles named in Heading 4202, HTSUSA, the article must show evidence that it was designed to be carried with the person. Next, you believe that the two cases do not comport with a definition of "vanity cases" as set forth in a Customs letter of February 12, 1985 (075548).


Are the above described plastic cases properly classified in Heading 4202, HTSUSA, as vanity cases, or in Heading 3923, HTSUSA, as articles for the conveyance or packing of goods, of plastics?


Classification of merchandise under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) taken in order. GRI 1 requires that classification be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative Section or Chapter notes.

Heading 3923, HTSUSA, provides for, "Articles for the conveyance or packing of goods, of plastics; stoppers, lids, caps and other closures, of plastics." Chapter 39, Note 2(h), in pertinent part, excludes from the chapter containers of heading 4202. The Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (EN's), although not legally binding, are the official interpretation of the HTSUSA at the international level. EN 39.23 (pg. 574) states in pertinent part,

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. * * * The heading excludes ... containers of headinq 42.02. (Emphasis in original.)

The choice between Headings 3923 and 4202, HTSUSA, has confronted Customs on several prior occasions. In HQ 087635 (October 24, 1990), an insulated plastic lunch box/cooler was determined to be properly classified in Heading 4202, HTSUSA. In deciding against classification in Heading 3923, HTSUSA, the ruling stated, -3- ... 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 explaining the classification of the lunch box in Heading 4202, HTSUSA, the ruling continued, in pertinent part,

In this regard, the instant lunch box which is used to carry small quantities of food for short distances, is distinguishable from articles as casks and carboys. *  * 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. * * * 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.

Mindful of the guidelines that have evolved from cases such as the above, and upon further analysis of the matter, it is our determination that the subject cases are properly considered vanity cases and, therefore, classifiable in Heading 4202, HTSUSA. We do not believe the cases are within the kind of article contemplated by Heading 3923, HTSUSA. The cases are not of a kind used to transport large quantities of goods over long distances. The vanity cases are made to hold and organize personal quantities of make-up and related items and keep them readily available for moving about with the case's owner. We also find the presence of a mirror in the lid of each case, although not required, to be influential. The mirror is present to aid the case's owner in the application of the make-up articles carried therein. Finally, supporting documents included with your request for reconsideration include purchase orders between your client and the foreign supplier of the cases. The purchase orders include reference to stickers. This indicates to us that "PRETTY FACE VANITY CASE" stickers were ordered contemporaneously with the cases evidencing an intention to import and market an item recognizable as a vanity case, not a generalized container.

As to your specific objections, we believe the vanity cases are capable of being carried with the person. The larger case has a functional handle. We note that a handle is-4-

typically present on articles identified as vanity cases, however the nomenclature does not impose a handle requirement. The smaller case is easily held in the hand, or would easily fit into a handbag, backpack or suitcase.

The case you cite as defining "vanity case" was a decision interpreting the scope of "flat goods" under the Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS). It is no longer precedent under the HTSUSA.


NY 870044 (January 7, 1992) is affirmed.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division