CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 950779 JED

Mr. J.R. Robinson
J.R. Robinson & Associates, Inc.
18115 Second Avenue, N.
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55447

RE: Revocation of NYRL 868266; molded plastic container

Dear Mr. Robinson:

This is in response to your request for reconsideration of New York Ruling Letter (NYRL) 868266, issued November 4, 1991, concerning the tariff classification of a molded plastic container.


The merchandise at issue is a molded plastic container of a trapezoidal shape. Placed in the upright, front-facing position, it measures approximately 2" wide on the front, 3" wide on the rear, 2" deep, and approximately 4 1/2" tall when closed. The body of the container is 3 3/8" tall and the 1 1/2" tall lid overlaps the body and rests on a 7/16" tall lip. A rubber gasket sits on the lip of the body to provide a purported water-tight seal when the top is secured by the plastic lift locks attached to the side of the body. An adjustable webbed nylon strap is threaded through a clip on the rear of the body of the container. The strap, with attached plastic clips, extends approximately 38"- enough to allow placement around the waist of most users. The sample viewed was red and had a decal affixed diagonally across the front panel with the word "SUBMARIN".

Promotional literature states that the purpose of the product is to permit the user to "enjoy your favorite outdoor leisure activities without worrying about your personal objects." Examples of objects that can be protected from "water, sand, shock, or theft" are "money, credit cards, keys, cigarettes, lighter, watch, film, etc."

By a letter of October 15, 1991, you submitted a request for a binding classification ruling on the above-described product to Customs in New York. In response you received NYRL 868266,


classifying the product under subheading 4202.99.0000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUSA), a provision for "trunks, suitcases, traveling bags and similar containers, other, other, other." Such classification carries a duty rate of 20% ad valorem.

On November 19, 1991, you requested this office reconsider NYRL 868266. You stated your belief that the merchandise is properly within Chapter 39, HTSUSA, Plastics and Articles Thereof, under either Heading 3923- Articles for the conveyance or packing of goods, of plastics; stoppers, lids, caps and other closures, of plastics; or Heading 3926- Other articles of plastics and articles of other materials of headings 3901 to 3914.

ISSUE: Is the molded plastic container properly classified under Heading 3923, HTSUSA; Heading 3926, HTSUSA or Heading 4202, HTSUSA?


The General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) taken in their appropriate order provide a framework for classification of goods under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). The majority of imported goods are classified by application of GRI 1, that is according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative Section or Chapter Notes. Further, the Explanatory Notes (EN's) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, which are the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, facilitate classification under the HTSUSA by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and GRI's. Customs believes the EN's should always be consulted.

Heading 4202, HTSUSA, provides for:

Trunks, suitcases, vanity cases, attache cases, briefcases, school satchels, spectacle cases, binocular cases, camera cases, musical instrument cases, gun cases, holsters and similar containers; traveling bags, toiletry bags, knapsacks and backpacks, handbags, shopping bags, wallets, purses, map cases, cigarette cases, tobacco pouches, tool bags, sports bags, bottle cases, jewelry boxes, powder cases, cutlery cases and similar containers, of leather or of composition leather, of plastic sheeting, of textile materials, of vulcanized fiber, or of paperboard, or wholly or mainly covered with such materials:

Heading 4202 is divided into two portions. Articles listed -3-

before the semicolon are not restricted as to material, whereas articles listed in the second portion must be of leather or composition leather, sheetings of plastics, textile material, vulcanized fiber, or paperboard, or wholly or mainly covered with such materials.

If the subject plastic container is to be considered in the second portion of Heading 4202, it must be of, or wholly or mainly covered with one of the specified materials. The container in question is clearly not of, or covered with, leather, composition leather, textile material, vulcanized fiber or paperboard. However, if the container is of plastic sheeting, it is eligible for consideration in the second portion of Heading 4202.

Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (1986) defines sheet and sheeting as:

sheet 5: A broad thinly expanded portion of metal or other substance.

sheeting 1: a material in the form of sheets * * * b: material (as a plastic) in the form of a continuous film * *.

See also Sekisui Products, Inc. v. United States, 63 Cust. Ct. 123, C.D. 3885 (1969), citing the Webster's definition of sheets with approval.

It is Customs opinion that an article which is made directly from a mass of plastic which never becomes a sheet or sheeting, and which never has a sheet or sheeting applied to its surface cannot be classified in the second portion of Heading 4202, HTSUSA. Accordingly, the container at issue here which is made from molded plastic cannot be considered for classification in the second portion of Heading 4202. (See HQ 082829, March 6, 1990; HQ 083131, September 13, 1989).

In the first portion of Heading 4202 are listed trunks, suitcases, vanity cases, attache cases, briefcases, school satchels, spectacle cases, binocular cases, camera cases, musical instrument cases, gun cases, holsters and similar containers. As the plastic container is not one of the named articles, its classification in the first portion of Heading 4202 would depend on its similarity to one of the named articles. EN 42.02 states that the expression "similar containers" in the first part includes hat boxes, camera accessory cases, cartridge pouches, sheaths for hunting or camping knives, etc.

The SUBMARIN is not similar to the first six articles. They are large (in the case of trunks possibly quite large) articles, often hand-carried by means of an attached handle, used to carry items other than small items normally carried in the pocket or -4-

handbag. The SUBMARIN is small, constructed to be worn around the waist, and designed to carry small pocket or handbag items like keys, money or cigarettes.

Neither is the SUBMARIN similar to the remaining six articles. They are containers made to carry one specific article (although they may also accommodate small accessories or parts like a lens cap or cleaning rod) and are often form-fitted to the particular item to be carried. In this regard, we note that the exemplars listed in EN 42.02 as "similar" to the containers in the first part of Heading 4202 are items that are arguably containers specialized for carrying specific items. The SUBMARIN is capable of carrying numerous small items and is not fitted to any one particular item.

Pursuant to the above analysis, the SUBMARIN is not classifiable in Heading 4202, HTSUSA. It is Customs opinion that the SUBMARIN is properly classified in one of the headings you suggested, namely Heading 3923, HTSUSA, which provides for, in pertinent part, articles for the conveyance or packing of goods, of plastics.

EN 39.23 states that the "heading covers all articles of plastics commonly used for the packing or conveyance of all kinds of products." The SUBMARIN is an article used to convey goods, i.e., the wearer uses it to transport their personal belongings about from place to place. We also note that the SUBMARIN is quite similar to the articles of HQ 083131 and HQ 082829. In HQ 083131 the article was "made of molded plastic and is 4" tall and 3" wide. ... It is designed to be carried on the person by hanging the cord around the wearer's neck. Small items are placed in the tube for protection from water and sand." In HQ 082829, the article was "a molded plastic tote tube. The article is designed to house money, keys, etc., during sporting events when lugging a wallet or purse would be inconvenient. The main body of the article consists of a cylindrical lower portion, a screw-on top portion, with a rubber-like seal in the middle." In both of those rulings the plastic container was classified in subheading 3923.10.0000, HTSUSA.


The molded plastic container known as the SUBMARIN is not classifiable in Heading 4202, HTSUSA, and this letter to you is notice of revocation of NYRL 868266 under 19 CFR 177.9(d)(1). The SUBMARIN is classifiable in subheading 3923.10.0000:

3923 Articles for the conveyance or packing of goods, of plastics;... 3923.10.0000 Boxes, cases, crates and similar articles

Such classification carries a rate of duty of 3% ad valorem. We -5-

note however that the SUBMARIN is marked "HECHO EN MEXICO" (translation- "MADE IN MEXICO") in molded-in letters on the inside of the lid portion. An article of subheading 3923.10.0000 imported from Mexico is free of duty provided the article is the "growth, product, or manufacture" of Mexico, pursuant to General Note 3(c)(ii)(C), HTSUSA.

In regard to the marking described above, you may wish to contact the Value and Marking Branch, U.S. Customs Service, 1301 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20229, for a ruling concerning the SUBMARIN's compliance with country of origin marking requirements. Section 304 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304), provides that every article of foreign origin (or its container) imported into the United States shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly and permanently as the nature of the article (or container) will permit, in such a manner as to indicate to the ultimate purchaser in the United States the English name of the country of origin of the article.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division