CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 954862 DFC
A.N. Deringer, Inc.
30 West Service Road
Champlain, New York 12919-9703
RE: Boards, bulletin; Boards, writing; Composite goods
Dear Mr. Baker;
This is in reply to your letter dated July 15, 1993, to the
District Binding Rulings Coordinator in Champlain, on behalf of
Delta Products, Ltd., of Victoriaville, Canada, concerning the
tariff classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the
United States (HTSUS), of bulletin boards and bulletin/writing
boards. Your letter, together with the representative samples
submitted, have been referred to this office for a response.
The samples designated as items 16-1612-43 and 16-1824-43
are round-cornered bulletin boards having plastic frames. They
consist of an agglomerated cork face sheet (about 1mm thick)
laminated to a wood fiberboard backing about 11 mm thick. The
samples designated as items 11-1824-43 and 11-2436-43 are
basically the same, except that they are perfectly rectangular
and have aluminum frames. The sample designated as item 11-
2412-31/43 is a combination bulletin board and writing board.
Half the surface area of this 12" x 24" aluminum-framed article
is the same type of bulletin board as described above, while the
other half has a smooth, hard, reusable writing surface (white
What material imparts the essential character to the
bulletin boards and the bulletin/writing board?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Classification of goods under the HTSUS is governed by the
General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 provides that
"classification shall be determined according to the terms of the
headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and provided
such headings or notes do not otherwise require, according to
[the remaining GRI's taken in order]." In other words
classification is governed first by the terms of the headings of
the tariff and any relative section or chapter notes.
GRI 2(b), HTSUS, provides in part that "[t]he classification
of goods consisting of more than one material or substance shall
be according to the principles of Rule 3."
GRI 3, HTSUS, provides as follows:
3. When, by application of Rule 2(b) or for any other
reason, goods are prima facie classifiable under
two or more headings, classification shall be
effected as follows:
(a) The heading which provides the most specific
description shall be preferred to headings
providing a more general description.
However, when two or more headings each refer
to part only of the materials or substances
contained in mixed or composite goods . . .
those headings are to be regarded as equally
specific in relation to those goods, even if
one of them gives a more complete or precise
description of the goods.
(b) Mixtures, composite goods consisting of
different materials or made up of different
components, and goods put up in sets for
retail sale, shall be classified as if they
consisted of the material or component which
gives them their essential character, insofar
as this criterion is applicable.
(c) When goods cannot be classified by reference
to 3(a) or 3(b), they shall be classified
under the heading which occurs last in
numerical order among those which equally
The round-cornered bulletin boards having plastic frames and
the rectangular shaped bulletin boards having aluminum frames are
prima facie classifiable under subheading 4421.90.95, HTSUS,
which provides for other articles of wood, other. The plastic-
framed boards and the aluminum-framed boards are also prima
facie classifiable, under subheading 4504.90.40, HTSUS, and
subheading 7616.90.00, HTSUS, respectively. Subheading
4504.90.40, HTSUS, provides for agglomerated cork (with or
without a binding substance) and articles of agglomerated cork,
other, other. Subheading 7616.90.00, HTSUS, provides for other
articles of aluminum, other. These bulletin boards are
considered composite goods because no HTSUS subheading completely
The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System
Explanatory Notes to the HTSUS (EN), although not dispositive,
should be looked to for the proper interpretation of the HTSUS .
See, 54 FR 35128 (August 23, 1989).
Composite goods are classifiable as if they consisted of the
component which gives them their essential character. EN VIII to
GRI 3(b), at page 4, reads as follows:
(VIII) The factor which determines essential character
will vary as between different kinds of goods. It
may, for example, be determined by the nature of
the materials or component, its bulk, quantity,
weight or value, or by the role of a constituent
material in relation to the use of the goods.
It is our view that the function of the bulletin boards
is crucial in determining their essential character. They are
"tack boards" for posting messages, announcements, pictures,
etc., in the office, school or home. In order to carry out that
function, they are designed essentially to be articles capable of
holding and displaying loose papers by the use of tacks, push-
pins or the like. Consequently, they must be made of materials
which will receive such fasteners efficiently, reliably and
repeatedly, and hold them securely. Although both the cork and
the fiberboard perform that function together, it seems that the
fiberboard plays the predominant role. The cork is too thin, in
and of itself, to do the job. Its main purpose seems to be to
provide an attractive surface and perhaps create the illusion
that the boards are solid cork. The frames are superfluous. The
articles could carry out their function with the fiberboard
alone. Thus, the fiberboard, considering its functional
dominance together with the fact that it gives the bulletin
boards their structure, stability and most of their weight can be
considered as imparting the essential character to the bulletin
In view of the foregoing, items 16-1612-43, 16-1824-43, 11-
1824-43 and 11-2436-43 are classifiable under subheading
4421.90.95, HTSUS, which provides for other articles of wood,
The last article to be considered, item 11-2412-31/43, is a
combination bulletin board and writing board. Half the surface
area of the 12" x 24" aluminum-framed article is the same type of
bulletin board described above, while the other half has a
smooth, hard, reusable writing surface (white "Permo-Delta").
This article is also considered a composite good because no HTSUS
subheading completely describes it.
The bulletin board component of item 11-2412-31/43 is prima
facie classifiable under the subheadings described above. The
writing board component is prima facie classifiable under
subheading 9610.00.00, HTSUS, which provides for slates and
boards, with writing or drawing surfaces, whether or not framed.
GRI 3(b) is not viable because the article has a dual
purpose (ie., as a bulletin board and as a writing board).
Consequently, we are unable to ascertain which component of the
article imparts the essential character thereto.
Pursuant to GRI 3(c), HTSUS, the combination bulletin board
and writing board is classifiable under subheading 9610.00,
HTSUS, as "the heading which occurs last in numerical order among
those which equally merit consideration."
Items 16-1612-43, 16-1824-43, 11-1824-43 and 11-2436-43 are
classifiable under subheading 4421.90.95, HTSUS, with duty at the
rate of 5.1% ad valorem, or at the rate of 2.5% ad valorem under
the U.S-Canada Free-Trade Agreement (CFTA), if otherwise
Item 11-2412-31/43 is classifiable under subheading
9610.00,00, HTSUS, with duty at the rate of 5.1% ad valorem, or
2.5% ad valorem under the CFTA, if otherwise qualified.
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division