CLA-2 RR:CC:GC 959522 MMC

Ms. Debi Klein
Import Administrator
Family Dollar
P.O. Box 1017
Charlotte, NC 28201-1017

RE: Pencil Case with Sharpener and Loose-Leaf Pencil Pouch

Dear Ms. Klein:

On May 16, 1996, you submitted a request for a ruling letter to the Customs National Commodity Specialist Division in New York. The request concerned the classification of an article known as a pencil case/sharpener, PO number 20441, STYLE/8-PC-1489/2, IBM 1323014 and a plastic loose-leaf pouch, PO number 20660, STYLE/8-PNC-150, IBM 1323003, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). On July 18, 1996, that letter, together with samples, was forwarded to this office for reply. We regret the delay in responding. FACTS:

The "Dynamic Three-In-One Pencil-Shaped School Box" is a cyndrical-shaped plastic container with a threaded neck. A green pencil-point shaped top is screwed onto one end. The other end has a green threaded plastic lid with a pencil sharpener molded into the top. Additionally, an arch-like piece of molded plastic has been affixed to this end, through which a metal ball chain has been threaded.

The loose-leaf pencil pouch measures 8« inches by 5 inches and is made of plastic sheeting sealed at the edges. One of the two long edges contains 5 holes so that the pouch may be carried in a loose-leaf binder. The other long edge contains a metal zipper closure. A small flap pocket with a snap closure and the words "LUNCH MONEY" appear in the left upper corner of the front panel. Additionally, underneath the flap pocket appear the words "This Case Belongs To" and a space for the owner's name. The words "pencil case" appear underneath the place for the owner's name. The remainder of the front panel is decorated with cat, mouse and nurse cartoons.

Both articles are used to contain various school supplies such as pens, pencils and erasers.


Whether the pencil pouches and cases are classifiable as containers or as personal articles.


Classification under the HTSUS is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). 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 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 may then be applied. The headings under consideration are: 3923 Articles for the conveyance or packing of goods, of plastics; stoppers, lids, caps and other closures, of plastics

3926 Other articles of plastics and articles of other materials of headings 3901 to 3914

In HRLs 953177 dated April 7, 1993, 954072 dated September 2, 1993, 954816 dated December 7, 1993, 957894 and 957895 both dated December 14, 1995, 955660 dated September 27, 1994, 955047 dated October 6, 1994, and 958174 dated January 31, 1996, Customs indicated that subheading 3923, HTSUS, provides for cases and containers of bulk goods and commercial goods, not personal articles. As the pencil pouches and cases transport pens, pencils, erasers, etc. for personal use, they are not described by heading 3923, HTSUS.

In understanding the language of the HTSUS, the Explanatory Notes (ENs) of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System may be utilized. The ENs, although not dispositive or legally binding, provide a commentary on the scope of each heading, and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of the HTSUS. See, T.D. 89-90, 54 FR 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989). EN 39.26 indicates that:

This heading covers articles, not elsewhere specified or included, of plastics (as defined in Note 1 to the Chapter) or of other materials of headings 39.01 to 39.14. They include:

* * * (4) Dust-sheets, protective bags, awnings, file-covers, document-jackets, book covers and reading jackets, and similar protective goods made by sewing or glueing together sheets of plastics.

(5) Paperweights, paper-knives, blotting-pads, pen-rests, book-marks, etc.

* * * (10) Tool boxes or cases, not specially shaped or internally fitted to contain particular tools with or without their accessories (see the Explanatory Note to heading 42.02).

(11) Various other articles such as fasteners for handbags, corners for suit-cases, suspension hooks, protective cups and glides for placing under furniture, handles (of tools, knives, forks, etc.), beads, watch "glasses", figures and letters, luggage label-holders.

The pencil cases and pouches are described by heading 3926, HTSUS, because they have substantial similarities to the articles listed in EN 39.26 and therefore belong to the same class or kind of articles. The pencil cases and pouches are classifiable under heading 3926, HTSUS, specifically, subheading 3926.10, HTSUS, which provides for "[o]ther articles of plastics and articles of other materials of headings 3901 to 3914: [o]ffice or school supplies." For a further discussion of the classification of pencil pouches and cases see 31 Customs Bulletin 18, dated May 15, 1997.


The pencil cases and pouches are classifiable under subheading 3926.10, HTSUS, which provides for "[o]ther articles of plastics and articles of other materials of headings 3901 to 3914: [o]ffice or school supplies" and has a 1998 column one duty rate of 5.3 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division