CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 961066 RH

Port Director
U.S. Customs Service
P.O. Box 619050
DEW Airport
TX 75261

RE: Protest No. 5501-97-100246; heading 4911, HTSUSA; heading 4819, HTSUSA;

Dear Sir:

This is in reply to the memorandum dated October 29, 1997, from the Director of Trade Compliance at your port, forwarding the Application for Further Review of Protest (AFR) 5501-97-10246 to our office for review.

MSAS Customs Logistics timely filed the AFR on behalf of Adbox, on August 8, 1997, and review is warranted pursuant to 19 CFR §174.24.


The record reflects that in January 1997, the protestant filed two entries covering “lithographs on paper” under subheading 4911.91.3000 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), as other printed matter.

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The Customs National Import Specialist for this commodity examined samples of the imported merchandise and described it as follows:

The article in contention is a black colored box of coated corrugated paper or paperboard, imported flat. When assembled, by mere hand pressure, it becomes a three-dimensional box measuring about 34 cm in length, 25 cm in width, and 6 cm in thickness. It is not printed on five sides, and minimally printed on a sixth side with the name of the protestant, and a country of origin marking.

Its closure consists of flaps that are not designed to seal in any contained article, but rather to act as clasps with which printed pictures, designated “covers”, may be fastened to the long surfaces of the box. In a word, the boxes are mounting platforms on which the advertising pictures are secured, for display purposes.

The protestant further describes the merchandise as “lithographically printed visual promotional tools” and states that it is used to boost merchandise awareness prior to a particular sales period. According to the protestant, the merchandise can be used as counter top display or suspended from a ceiling or store fixtures, and each article can be fitted with interchangeable covers to highlight a variety of merchandise items.

Moreover, the protestant advised us that the boxes and covers are imported together as one product, and that the covers or add-ons are not sold separately. We assume, then, that the products will be used together in the manner described by the protestant, i.e., for display purposes.

On May 15 and 21, 1997, Customs issued a rate advance on the merchandise and liquidated the entries on July 11 and June 9, 1997, under subheading 4819.10.0040, HTSUSA, as cartons, boxes and cases, of corrugated paper or paperboard.


Are the articles in question classifiable under heading 4811, HTSUSA, as cartons or boxes, or under subheading 4911, HTSUSA, as other printed matter?


Classification of goods under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes. Moreover, in interpreting the terms of the headings, Customs looks to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes, which, although not legally binding, are recognized as the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. - 3 -

Heading 4819 provides, in part, for cartons, boxes and cases, of corrugated paper or paperboard. The EN to heading 4819 reads, in pertinent part, that cartons, boxes, cases and other packing containers “covers containers of various kinds and sizes generally used for the packing, transport, storage or sale of merchandise, whether or not also having a decorative value. . . .”

The protestant argues that the merchandise is not used as boxes or containers for the conveyance of goods but that its intended use and actual use are limited to display functions for increasing sales of the items promoted.

Heading 4911 provides for “Other printed matter, including printed pictures and photographs.” The protestant cites the EN to heading 4911 in support of its claim that the merchandise falls within that heading. The note states that the heading includes:

Advertising matter (including posters), year books and similar publications devoted essentially to advertising, trade catalogues of all kinds (including book or misc. publishers lists, and catalogues of works of art) and tourist propaganda. . . .”

After examining a sample of the merchandise at issue, we find that it is made up of components of both heading 4819 (the black colored box of corrugated paper or paperboard) and heading 4911 (the printed covers for the boxes). GRI 3(b) states:

Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale, which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

The EN to GRI 3(b) provides in pertinent part that:

For the purpose of this Rule, composite goods made up of different components shall be taken to mean not only those in which the components are attached to each other to form a practically inseparable whole but also those with separable components, provided these components are adapted one to the other and are mutually complementary and that together they form a whole which would not normally be offered for sale in separate parts.

The box and cover in this case meet the criteria for a composite good. They are adapted one to the other and are mutually complimentary. The flaps on both components interlace so that the printed cover may be attached to, and become part of, the closed box. The box becomes a mounting platform on which the advertising materials are secured. Additionally, the two components form a whole; they are designed to be joined together to create a display. They are not sold separately.

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We further find that the essential character of the composite good is imparted by the cover which contains the lithographically printed advertising material. It is the advertising material that “boosts merchandise awareness” and promotes the merchandise prior to a particular sales period. Accordingly, the box and cover are classifiable under heading 4911.


The protest should be ALLOWED. The boxes and covers are classifiable under subheading 4911.10.0080, HTSUSA, which provides for “Other printed matter, including printed pictures and photographs: Trade advertising material, commercial catalogs and the like: Other.” Merchandise liquidated under that tariff provision is free of duty.

In accordance with Section 3A(11)(b) of Customs Directive 099 3550065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, you are to mail this decision, together with the Customs Form 19, to the protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry or entries in accordance with the decision must be accomplished prior to the mailing of this decision.

Sixty days from the date of the decision, the Office of Regulations and Rulings will make the decision available to Customs personnel, and to the public on the Customs Home Page on the World Wide Web at, by means of the Freedom of Information Act, and other methods of public distribution.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division