Mr. Jeffrey Carlson
Transportation Manager
Penguin Group (USA) Inc. DBA Dorling Kindersley
405 Murray Hill Parkway
East Rutherford, NJ 07073

RE: Classification of children’s “Science Kit”

Dear Mr. Carlson:

This is in response to your letter of October 24, 2011, on behalf of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. DBA Dorling Kindersley (“DK”), in which you request a binding ruling on the tariff classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) of the “Science Kit.” Your ruling request was forwarded to this office from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) National Commodity Specialist Division for reply. Per your request, the provided sample will be returned.


“The Science Kit” is a kit which features an assortment of various materials intended to be used by a child to perform simple science experiments. It is packaged in a cardboard window box and is presented in a flimsy plastic container with molded cut-outs for the various materials. The front side of the box indicates that it “contains more than 100 experiments”; writing on the flip sides provides an overview of the content’s uses and various safety warnings. There are also photographs of children using the contents on the box. The text “8+” also appears on a warning label to indicate that the product is designed for children of eight years of age and over. A retail price of $29.99 is listed on the bottom corner of the box.

The kit includes three books. The first, “Experiment cards”, is a 44-page flip book. This book provides instructions in the form of text and photographs on how to use the contents of the kit with materials commonly found in a house, such as a ruler, scissors, tape, cardboard, lemons, vinegar and food coloring. The second book is a 48-page bound book, entitled “Explore Science”, and it contains text and photographs which provide instructions on how to conduct experiments principally using materials commonly found in one’s home, such as lemons, salt, tin foil, electrical tape, along with materials found in the kit. The photographs depict the children using the materials and provide further explain the textual instructions. The third book consists of 16-page blank workbook, entitled “Science Workbook”. In addition to the books, the Science Kit contains the following items: four colored inflatable rubber balloons, six glass marbles of two different sizes, four sheets of stickers, two plastic spools, one plastic test tube accompanied by a plastic cap resembling the type of cap used to seal a plastic soda bottle, one foam arrow, one small piece of molding clay, one piece of yellow thread, two rectangular magnets, one hex nut, two pieces of wire 8 inches in length, three LED (“light emitting diodes”) light bulbs, four round diskettes composed of cardboard, one small pipette composed of flimsy plastic, four colored plastic straws, five wooden dowels, one bag of polystyrene beads, two filters, one sheet of golden paper, two pieces of colored film paper, one small plastic case containing iron filings, five double-sided paperboard sheets consisting of various pictures for pressing out and assembly.

A picture of the kit follows:


Whether the collection of items is classified as children’s picture books of heading 4903, HTSUS, as a toy of heading 9503, HTSUS, or whether it is classified separately? LAW AND ANALYSIS:

Classification under the HTSUS is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 provides that the classification of goods shall be determined according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative 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 GRIs 2 through 6 may then be applied in order.

The 2012 HTSUS provisions at issue are:

4903 Children's picture, drawing or coloring books

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9503 Tricycles, scooters, pedal cars and similar wheeled toys; dolls’ carriages; dolls, other toys; reduced-scale (“scale”) models and similar recreational models, working or not; puzzles of all kinds; parts and accessories thereof * * * * *

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. While not legally binding, and therefore not dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System and are thus useful in ascertaining the classification of merchandise under the System. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127 (Aug. 23, 1989).

The EN for 95.03 provides, in pertinent part:           (D) Other toys. This group covers toys intended essentially for the amusement of persons (children or adults).  However, toys which, on account of their design, shape or constituent material, are identifiable as intended exclusively for animals, e.g., pets, do not fall in this heading, but are classified in their own appropriate heading.  This group includes: (xviii)  Educational toys (e.g., toy chemistry, printing, sewing and knitting sets).


  Collections of articles, the individual items of which if presented separately would be classified in other headings in the Nomenclature, are classified in this heading when they are put up in a form clearly indicating their use as toys (e.g., instructional toys such as chemistry, sewing, etc., sets).

* * * * *

You submit that the instant Science Kit is a set classified in heading 4903, HTSUS, which provides for “[c]hildren’s picture, drawing or coloring books,” by application of GRI 3(b). We must first determine whether the Science Kit can be classified by GRI 1, before resorting to GRI 3.

Heading 9503, HTSUS, is the provision for “other toys”. Although the term “toy” is not defined in the HTSUS, in Minnetonka Brands, Inc. v. United States, 24 C.I.T. 645, 650, 110 F. Supp. 2d 1020, 1026 (Ct. Int’l Trade 2000), the Court of International Trade (CIT) held that an “object is a toy only if it is designed and used for amusement, diversion or play, rather than practicality.” Ibid.

In Minnetonka Brands, the CIT concluded that heading 9503, HTSUS, is a "principal use" provision within the meaning of Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(a), HTSUS. Minnetonka Brands, 110 F. Supp. at 1027. Therefore, classification under the heading is controlled by the principal use of goods of that class or kind to which the imported goods belong in the United States at or immediately prior to the date of the importation. In determining whether the principal use of a product is for amusement, and thereby classified as a toy, CBP considers a variety of factors, including: (1) the general physical characteristics of the merchandise; (2) the expectation of the ultimate purchasers; (3) the channels, class or kind of trade in which the merchandise moves; (4) the environment of the sale (i.e., accompanying accessories and the manner in which the merchandise is advertised and displayed); (5) usage, if any, in the same manner as merchandise which defines the class. United States v. Carborundum Co., 536 F.2d 373, 377 (1976).

Since we are presented with a collection of items which is packaged and sold as a children’s science kit, we must determine whether the instant item is classifiable as an educational toy. EN 95.03 refers to toy chemistry, printing, sewing and knitting sets as examples of educational toys. Based upon EN 95.03, these educational toys all have 1) limited use, 2) limited capacity and 3) are representational of a grown-up version of the same article. Educational toys are designed to allow the user to mimic or even undertake the basic activities of actual chemistry, printing, sewing or knitting sets. They take advantage of a child’s natural curiosity and desire to role-play at being an adult. Any actual learning of principles of chemistry or development of sewing skills is incidental to the entertainment value of role-playing. See HQ H123917, dated March 28, 2011.

In this instance, since the kit contains one or more items, (e.g., the two 8-inch pieces of wire, drinking straws, and the LEDs) which have potential utilitarian value, “the question becomes one of determining whether the amusement is incidental to the utilitarian purpose, or the utility purpose incidental to the amusement.” Ideal Toy Corp. v. United States, 78 Cust. Ct. 28 at 33 (1977). Given that the retail cost of the kit is $30, it would be impractical and expensive to purchase the Science Kit for its utilitarian items. We observe that the kit is composed of lightweight, non-durable and flimsy materials. (See HQ 966484, dated August 12, 2003, for the proposition that a rock tumbler kit was classifiable as a toy due to its flimsy construction and limited use). As noted above, the packaging contains photographs of children using the contents. Our online research confirms the instant item is not marketed and sold as a utilitarian item, but rather, to entertain the “burgeoning science-lover, as well as those who are not enthused by the topic.” The Carborundum factors therefore indicate that the instant Science Kit is principally used as a toy.

The Science Kit resembles toy chemistry sets in that both items are not intended to produce useful results or matter. For example, as noted above, the “Explore Science” book provides instructions on how a child can create battery power using a lemon. However, one would not actually attempt to harness this battery “juice” to provide electrical power for a device. The point of the experiments is therefore to provide educational and amusement value, and not utilitarian value.

Our conclusion that the Science Kit is an educational toy set is consistent with CBP’s prior rulings on this issue in that the Science Kit offers manipulative play value. See HQ 967798, February 28, 2006 and H037544, dated September 3, 2009. In HQ 960279, dated December 9, 1997, we listed four factors that an educational toy must possess and explained that an educational toy must possess some form of manipulative play value. We find that the Science Kit functions as an educational toy because it enables manipulative play in that it encourages self-learning or natural curiosity, and it allows for trial and error in that the kit includes instructions and ideas for experiment. It offers manipulative play value independent of its educational attributes regardless of whether the child uses the books as directed, since the child could mimic a scientist by creating his or her own experiments with the materials provided. The instant kit is a semi-representation of a real science experimentation kit and is incapable of performing higher-level experiments and therefore has the “limited use” and “representational of real items” characteristics which we require for educational toys. See HQ 959686, dated March 31, 1998, in which we found that “Fun with Electronics” was an educational toy set; see also HQ 966721, dated April 14, 2004, and HQ H123917, dated March 28, 2011, in which we found an electronic learning system and an electronic learning device were not educational toys because they were surrogate instructors.


By application of GRI 1 and Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(a), HTSUS the subject “Science Kit” is classified together as an “other toy” in heading 9503, HTSUS. It is specifically provided for in subheading 9503.00.0073, which provides for: “Tricycles, scooters, pedal cars and similar wheeled toys; dolls’ carriages; dolls, other toys; reduced scale models, working or not; puzzles of all kinds; parts and accessories thereof…Other: Labeled or determined by importer as intended for use by persons: 3 to 12 years of age.” The column one, general rate of duty is free.

Duty rates are provided for your convenience and subject to change. The text of the most recent HTSUS and the accompanying duty rates are provided on the World Wide Web at

A copy of this ruling letter should be attached to the entry documents filed at the time the goods are entered. If the documents have been filed without a copy, this ruling should be brought to the attention of the CBP officer handling the transaction.


Ieva K. O’Rourke, Chief
Tariff Classification and Marking Branch