CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 955946 BC

Cam Sigler
Cam Sigler Company
11061 Patten Lane, S.W.
P.O. Box 656
Vashon Island, WA 98070

RE: Classification of a tote/seat cushion carry bag with pouch accessories; travel, sports and similar bags; combination tote bag/seat cushion; tote bag; seat cushion

Dear Mr. Sigler:

This responds to your letter of February 22, 1994, wherein you requested a binding classification ruling on the referenced combination tote/seat cushion carry bag. A sample was submitted for our examination. We have reviewed the matter and our decision follows.


The sample submitted, identified as style no. 5484 Tote Seat, is a cylinder-shaped carry bag made of 100% cotton fabric with an army camouflage pattern. (While you state in your letter that the bag is made of cotton, the advertsiement you submitted indicates nylon. For purposes of this ruling, we assume that it is made of cotton.) The tote/seat (also referred to as the bag or carry bag) measures 12 inches in diameter and 11 inches deep. There are no pockets or compartments inside. About three inches from the top of the tote/seat, a zipper follows nearly the entire circumference of the bag. The top one inch of the upper part of the bag (above the zipper) is padded with foam to form a seat cushion. The tote/seat is designed to have inserted into it a cylindrically shaped 5 gallon molded container that provides insulated storage. The tote/seat fits tightly around the container, and the cushion provides padding for a seat that can be used when the top of the bag is closed and zippered over the container. The tote/seat can also be used to carry other personal belongings when the container is not inside. It comes with a detachable/adjustable shoulder strap for carrying ease. It is imported without the container.

The tote/seat comes with three large removable pouches with snap closure flaps. They are made of the same material as the bag and measure 11 and 1/2 inches long by 9 and 3/4 inches deep by 2 inches wide. These attach to the tote/seat by means of a belt loop that runs the length of the pouch at the top. A belt can be run through the loop on the pouch and then through four one inch loops located on the outside of the tote/seat, just below the zipper. The pouches also can be attached to a persons waist through belt loops.


What is the proper classification for the subject combination tote/seat cushion carry bag?


Classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 provides that classification is determined in accordance with the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes. Where goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, the remaining rules will be applied in sequential order.

The tote/seat carry bag at issue consists of two components. It is a tote bag for carrying an insulated container - or, at the discretion of the user, other personal effects - that has a seat cushion component. Thus, it is an article prima facie classifiable in two separate headings: heading 4202, HTSUSA, providing generally for various containers and bags, and heading 9404, HTSUSA, providing for various articles including seat cushions. Consequently, classification must be made by application of GRI 3.

Under GRI 3, classification of an article is achieved by application of the following rules:

When, by application of rule 2(b) [pertaining to the classification of goods consisting of more than one material or substance] 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 or to part only of the items in a set put up for retail sale, 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, which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), 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 merit consideration.

Considering the tote/seat as a tote bag or carry bag, we look to Chapter 42, HTSUSA. Under Additional U.S. Note 1, Chapter 42, HTSUSA, the following is provided:

For the purposes of heading 4202, the expression "travel, sports and similar bags" means goods, other than those falling in subheadings 4202.11 through 4202.39, of a kind designed for carrying clothing and other personal effects during travel, including backpacks and shopping bags of this heading, but does not include binocular cases, bottle cases and similar containers.

The tote/seat carry bag at issue is designed to carry an insulated container that can hold ice, food, beverages, bait, and other things requiring insulation. The container can also hold other personal effects that do not require insulation, such as bait, food, clothing, gear for fishing or hunting, etc. Without the container, the bag could hold these latter things as well. The bag, in these ways, could be used for camping, hunting, fishing, picnicking, ballgames, visits to the beach or park, etc. Thus, as a tote bag for carrying personal effects during travel, it would be classifiable in subheading 4202.92.1500, HTSUSA, which provides for travel, sports and similar bags, with outer surface of textile materials, of vegetable fibers and not of pile or tufted construction, of cotton.

As a seat cushion, the tote/seat would be classifiable in heading 9404, HTSUSA, which provides for, among other things, articles of bedding and similar furnishings, including cushions, pouffes and pillows. (See Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 089776 (October 21, 1991), HRL 950252 (December 4, 1991), HRL 950492 (January 28, 1992), and New York Ruling Letter (NYRL) 895290 (March 17, 1994), where seat cushions were held to be classifiable in subheading 9404.90.2000, HTSUSA.)

In applying GRI 3 to the classification of the instant tote/seat, we conclude that GRI 3(a) does not apply. Headings 4202 and 9404, HTSUSA, each refer to only one component of this composite good. Thus, under GRI 3(a), they must be regarded as equally specific, and classification by this rule of specificity is unavailing. This means that classification will be accomplished by either GRI 3(b) or GRI 3(c).

In HRL 953523, dated April 22, 1993, we classified what was described as a combination seat cushion and utility pack by application of GRI 3(c). In that ruling, we determined that neither the utility pack component (tote bag) nor the seat cushion component imparted essential character. Thus, classification by GRI 3(b) was inappropriate. Since the heading pertaining to the seat cushion appears later in the tariff than the heading for the tote/utility bag, the article was classified under heading 9404, HTSUSA, by application of GRI 3(c). This was also the result in NYRL 895290, cited above, which classified a similar article.

Classification by application of GRI 3(b) is a particularly fact specific exercise. In one scenario, a component of a particular multi-component article may be considered, under GRI 3(b), sufficiently predominant (in some way) to confer essential character upon that article. In another scenario, the same kind of article may be classified by application of GRI 3(c) because none of its components are considered sufficiently predominant. Whether GRI 3(b) or 3(c) applies to an article depends on the precise characteristics of that article. Application of one or the other must be made on a case by case basis after careful examination of the article.

The instant tote/seat carry bag is different from the articles classified in HRL 953523 and NYRL 895290. Although it has both tote/carry bag and seat cushion components, as do the articles classified in those rulings, a close examination leads to a different conclusion.

The article in HRL 953523 is described as a stadium seat cushion and utility pack. Its construction allows for its ready use as either a tote bag, seat cushion, or both. For this reason, we found that neither the tote bag nor the seat cushion component of the article was sufficiently predominant to confer essential character. Thus, application of GRI 3(c). The article classified in NYRL 895290 is essentially the same. It too was described as a stadium seat cushion utility pack and was designed to be used in the same way. Thus, GRI 3(c) was applied. (In accord is HRL 954473, dated August 23, 1993, where we found that neither of the article's component uses (combination travel bag and back/neck rest) was incidental or subordinate to the other. Thus, an essential character determination (GRI 3(b)) could not be made, and application of GRI 3(c) was appropriate. This ruling cited other rulings that classified combination travel bags and seats under GRI 3(c) on this theory that neither component use was predominant.)

The instant tote/seat carry bag is far more likely to be used as a tote carry bag than a seat cushion, with or without the insulated container. Its construction is such that, unlike the above articles, its use solely as a seat cushion is most unlikely. The seat cushion aspect of the article appears to be subordinate or ancillary to its tote bag aspect. Thus, it is readily usable as a tote bag and as a combination tote bag/seat cushion (when container is inside), but not solely as a seat cushion. Based on this finding, we conclude that an essential character determination can be made here; to wit, the tote/seat carry bag is primarily a tote carry bag (with or without the container) and is thus classifiable, under GRI 3(b), as a travel, sports, and similar bag in heading 4202, HTSUSA.

Regarding the pouch attachments, these pouches are yet another component of the tote/seat carry bag and, as such, are subject to classification under GRI 3. As components of a composite good, they are classifiable with that composite good. Since the carry bag component imparts essential character to the tote/seat (the composite good), the pouches are classifiable therewith under heading 4202, HTSUSA. If the pouches are imported as attachments to other composite goods, such as the Delux Field Seat (item #5611) you referenced in your letter, they would be classified with that composite good.


The subject tote/seat carry bag with utility pouch attachments is classifiable under subheading 4202.92.1500, HTSUSA, as a travel, sports, or similar bag, with outer surface of textile materials, not of pile or tufted construction, of cotton. The applicable duty rate is 7.2% ad valorem, and the quota category is 369.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the restraint (quota/visa) categories applicable to textile merchandise, you should contact your local Customs office prior to importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.

The designated textile and apparel category may be subdivided into parts. If so, visa and quota requirements applicable to the subject merchandise may be affected. Since part categories are the result of international bilateral agreements which are subject to frequent renegotiations and changes, to obtain the most current information available, we suggest that you check, close to the time of shipment, the Status Report On Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), an internal issuance of the U.S. Customs Service, which is available for inspection at your local Customs office.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division