CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 953663 ch

District Director
Los Angeles
300 South Ferry Street
Terminal Island
San Pedro, California 90731

Re: Application for further review of protest 2704-XX- XXXXXX; classification of a plastic lunch box.

Dear Sir/Madam:

The above-referenced protest was forwarded to this office for further review. We have considered the protest and our decision follows.


The subject merchandise is described as "plastic lunch boxes" by the protestant, Associated Premium Corporation. The lunch boxes are comprised of injected-molded plastics. We infer from this description that they are rigid rectangular or square containers designed to carry food and beverages from place-to- place.


Whether the plastic lunch boxes are classifiable under heading 4202, HTSUSA, which provides in part for trunks, suitcases, vanity cases, attache cases, briefcases, school satchels and similar containers, or heading 3924, HTSUSA, which provides for tableware, kitchenware, other articles and toilet articles, of plastics?


Classification of goods under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 provides that classification is determined first in accordance with the terms of the headings of the tariff and any relative section or chapter notes. Where goods cannot be classified on the basis of GRI 1, the remaining GRI will be applied in order.

Heading 4202, HTSUSA, for:

Trunks, Suit-Cases, Vanity-Cases, Executive-Cases, Briefcases, School Satchels, Spectacle Cases, Binocular Cases, Camera Cases, Musical Instrument Cases, Gun Cases, Holsters and Similar Containers; Travelling- Bags, Toilet Bags, Rucksacks, Handbags, Shopping-Bags, Wallets, Purses, Map-Cases, Cigarette-Cases, Tobacco- Pouches, Tool Bags, Sports Bags, Bottle-Cases, Jewellery Boxes, Powder-Boxes, Cutlery Cases and Similar Containers, of Leather or of Composition Leather, of Sheeting of Plastics, of Textile Materials, of Vulcanised Fibre or of Paperboard, or Wholly or Mainly Covered with Such Materials or With Paper. (Emphasis added).

Therefore, heading 4202 encompasses the enumerated articles and containers similar thereto.

We have consistently determined that plastic lunch boxes are containers similar to those enumerated in heading 4202. See Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 953044, dated April 19, 1993; HRL 952702, dated April 9, 1993; HRL 951029, April 7, 1992; HRL 950049, dated April 21, 1992; HRL 950467, dated December 24, 1991; HRL 088076, dated October 24, 1990; HRL 088075, dated October 24, 1990; HRL 087635, dated October 24, 1990; HRL 082488, dated February 21, 1989. These decisions have emphasized the fact that lunch boxes are designed primarily for the convenience of the traveler to carry and store food and beverages. We note that articles such as suitcases, vanity cases, attache cases and briefcases, all of which are enumerated in heading 4202, are designed for a similar purpose; i.e. to carry and store personal effects during travel. Accordingly, we conclude that the instant plastic lunch boxes are ejusdem generis with the containers enumerated in heading 4202.

The protestant advances several arguments in support of its position that heading 4202 is not applicable in this instance. First, protestant notes that heading 4202 concludes with a requirement that certain containers of this heading be composed "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." As the instant merchandise is not of, or covered with, such materials, protestant concludes that heading 4202 is inapplicable.

However, the articles specified in heading 4202 are broken into two sections separated by a semi-colon. The Explanatory Notes (EN), which are the official interpretation of the Nomenclature at the international level, state in pertinent part that:

[T]he articles covered by the first part of the heading may be of any material...The articles covered by the second part of the heading must, however, be only of the materials specified therein or must be wholly or mainly covered with such materials or with paper.

As we conclude that the subject lunch boxes are similar to containers enumerated in the first half of the heading, there is no requirement that they be composed of a particular material. Hence, heading 4202 encompasses lunch boxes composed of molded plastic.

Second, protestant cites Chapter 42, additional U.S. note 1, which states:

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, camera cases, musical instrument cases, bottle cases and similar containers.

Protestant contends that the purpose of a lunch box "is not for carrying clothing like backpacks or shopping bags, but is obviously used to transport food on a continuing basis." On this basis, protestant concludes that a lunch box is not a container similar to those enumerated in heading 4202.

By its terms, additional U.S. note 1 describes travel, sports and containers similar thereto. Travel and sports bags are found in the second part of heading 4202, and are classified within subheadings 4202.91 and 4202.92 (and not subheading 4202.99 as the protestant suggests). In this case, the merchandise is classifiable under heading 4202 as a container similar to those enumerated in the first part of the heading, and is not classified within subheadings 4202.91 and 4202.92. While the lunch boxes are not classified as "travel, sports and similar bags," this fact does not preclude their classification within heading 4202. As we find that the lunch boxes are similar to other containers of this heading, we need not reach protestant's claim that lunch boxes have a different purpose from backpacks and shopping bags.

Finally, protestant directs our attention to Chapter 42, U.S. additional note 2, which states:

For purposes of classifying articles under subheadings 4202.12, 4202.22, 4202.32, and 4202.92, articles of textile fabric impregnated, coated, covered or laminated with plastics (whether compact or cellular) shall be regarded as having an outer surface of textile material or of plastic sheeting, depending upon whether and the extent to which the textile constituent or the plastic constituent makes up the exterior surface of the article.

Protestant has inferred from this passage that "for the purposes of classifying articles under heading 4202 the item in question should be a textile fabric which may or may not be impregnated, coated, covered, or laminated with plastics." This conclusion is unsupported by the plain language of the heading in several respects. However, for the purposes of this decision we need merely refer again to the fact that containers of the first part of the heading may be of any material. It follows that U.S. additional note 2 has no bearing on the classification of the instant lunch boxes.

Chapter 39, note 2(h), provides that containers classifiable under heading 4202 are precluded from classification under Chapter 39. As we find that the plastic lunch boxes are classifiable under heading 4202, heading 3924 is inapplicable.


Based on the foregoing discussion, this protest should be denied in full. The subject merchandise shall be classified under subheading 4202.12.2025, which provides for trunks, suitcases, vanity cases, attache cases, briefcases, school satchels and similar containers: with outer surface of plastics or of textile materials: with outer surface of plastics, structured, rigid on all sides: other. The applicable rate of duty is 20 percent ad valorem.

A copy of this decision should be attached to the CF 19 Notice of Action to satisfy the notice requirement of section 174.30(a), Customs Regulations.


John Durant, Director