CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 087760 KWM

Mr. Thomas J. O'Donnell
Sonnenberg, Anderson, O'Donnell & Rodriguez
200 West Adams Street
Chicago, Illinois 60606

RE: Revocation of HRL 086775; Jewelry boxes; Wholly or mainly covered with textile materials; Outer surface.

Dear Mr. O'Donnell:

This letter is in regard to your request for reconsideration of Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 086775, dated July 9, 1990. We are in receipt of your letter of August 14, 1990, and the accompanying samples. In addition, we have also received your letter dated September 27, 1990, regarding the topics discussed at our meeting of September 26th. After careful consideration of all arguments raised by you, we have determined that HRL 086775 is incorrect and we hereby revoke it.


The goods at issue here are jewelry boxes. The boxes have a plastic frame or structure, and are designed or fitted to hold one or more pieces of jewelry. The exterior of the box presents a covering of textile dust to which a stenciled pattern had been applied. During manufacture, the dust is adhered to a sheet of paper by means of glue, which is then itself glued to the plastic box. Your original request covered three styles of jewelry box, the particulars of each is presented in HRL 086775. Your letter of September 27, 1990, provides detailed value and weight breakdowns for each of the component materials. They are presented below where relevant.

HRL 086775 classified the jewelry boxes in subheading 4202.92.9020, HTSUSA, which provides for jewelry boxes and other containers wholly or mainly covered with textile material and having an outer surface of textile material. Your request questions that classification, asserting grounds for reconsideration.


Are the goods classified as jewelry boxes of heading 4202, HTSUSA?

If not, what is the proper HTSUSA classification?


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.

Your request asserts three grounds for reconsideration of HRL 086775. First, you assert that our characterization of the boxes as wholly covered with textile material is in error. Second, you assert that "textile materials" does not include the textile dust present on these boxes. Third, you believe that the tariff rate resulting from the classification in HRL 086775 is in violation of the intent of the HTSUSA conversion to be trade neutral.

Classification in heading 4202, HTSUSA

Heading 4202, HTSUSA, provides for, in pertinent part:

Trunks, suitcases, . . .holsters and similar containers; toiletry bags, knapsacks, purses, map cases, cigarette cases, tobacco pouches, toolbags, sports bags, bottle cases, jewelry boxes, powder case, cutlery cases and similar containers, of leather or of composition leather, of plastic sheeting, of textile materials, of vulcanized fiber or paperboard, or wholly or mainly covered with such materials.

(Emphasis added). The heading contains two parts separated by a semicolon. To be classified under heading 4202, HTSUSA, those items listed after the semicolon must be of or wholly or mainly covered with the materials enumerated in the heading; i.e., leather or composition leather, plastic sheeting, textile materials, vulcanized fiber, or paperboard. In HRL 086775, we held that the subject boxes were "jewelry boxes" as described in the Explanatory Notes, and that they were "of textile materials." Your letter takes issue with the second part of that holding, that the boxes are "of textile materials."

In HRL 086775, we did not hold that the covering of a jewelry box is that portion which is tactile and visible, or that the tactile and visible material will determine classification. At the four-digit level, heading 4202, HTSUSA requires that a good be "of" or "wholly or mainly covered with" a specified material. However, at the six-digit level the nomenclature classifies goods by the material which comprises the "outer surface." As HRL 086775 states, "[t]he 'outer surface' is that which is both tactile and visible." In classifying goods such as these, we must distinguish between the requirements of the four- and six-digit headings, since they dictate different criteria for classifying goods.

You assert that the boxes here are covered with a flocked paper, and that paper is not one of the specified materials of heading 4202, HTSUSA. As in your original submission, you argue that the flocked paper, if imported separately would be classified as paper. The classification of flocked paper as an independent article of commerce is not, in and of itself dispositive of the jewelry boxes' classification. However, Customs recognizes that heading 4202, HTSUSA, is material specific in providing for certain items. Therefore, we have reconsidered whether the flocked paper, as a constituent material used as an element of the boxes should be considered a textile material or a paper covering. We determine here that it is in fact a paper covering and on that basis we revoke HRL 086775.

The terms "wholly or mainly covered" are not defined in either the legal or Explanatory notes. Customs has, in classifying other goods, considered "covers" of flatgoods to include that material which constitutes the outermost layer. The outermost layer may be a composite material, as in this case. Here we have a plastic box covered with a paper and textile material which has been cut from stock considered to be a paper product. The paper is the medium which binds and makes useful the textile dust; The paper allows the textile to be cut to shape and manipulated for easier incorporation into the finished product. Against this we weigh the visual and tactile contribution of the textile dust. We find that, used as a covering, the paper and textile material should be considered a paper for purposes of heading 4202, HTSUSA. As such it is excluded from classification in that heading. We note that this finding does not address what the outer surface of the article might be for purposes of subheading classification.

Classification as a composite good

Failing classification in heading 4202, HTSUSA, the instant goods are considered to be composite goods, consisting of two elements: a flocked paper covering and the frame or structure. For style numbers 6307 and 6161, the frame is a plastics material. For style number 6269, the frame is wood. Any other miscellaneous components are considered de minimis for purposes of classification. Your letter of September 27, 1990, indicates that the predominant component in terms of both weight and value is the shell material. In addition, we find that the shell gives shape and form to the completed merchandise. Therefore, in accordance with GRI 3(b), the essential character of the jewelry boxes is provided by the shell.

Style numbers 6307 and 6161 are considered articles of plastic classified in subheading 3926.90.9050, HTSUSA, as other articles of plastic. Style number 6269 is considered an article of wood, classified in subheading 4420.90.4000, HTSUSA, as jewelry boxes, not lined with textile fabrics.

Remaining issues

Since we revoke HRL 086775 on other grounds, we need not address the remaining issues raised in your letter. We take no position with regard to your assertions that the textile dust is not considered a textile material, or those assertions regarding the intent of Congress to provide rate neutrality in adopting the HTSUSA. HOLDING:

The jewelry boxes at issue are classified depending on the component material which makes up their shell/frame/structure. Those items with frames of plastic are classified in subheading 3926.90.9050, HTSUSA, as other articles of plastic. The applicable rate of duty will be 5.3 percent ad valorem. Those items with frames of wood are classified in subheading 4420.90.4000, HTSUSA, as jewelry boxes of wood, not lined with textile materials. The applicable rate of duty for that classification is 6.7 percent ad valorem.

This notice to you should be considered a revocation of HRL 086775 under 19 CFR 177.9(d)(1). For the purposes of future transactions in merchandise of this type. HRL 086775 will not be valid precedent. We recognize that pending transactions may be adversely affected by this modification in that current contracts for importation arriving at a port subsequent to this decision will be classified pursuant to it. If such a situation arises, you may, at your discretion, notify this office and may apply for relief from the binding effects of this decision as may be warranted by the circumstances. However, please be advised that in some instances involving import restraints, such relief may require separate approvals from other government agencies.


John A. Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division