CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 963339 SG

Port Director
U.S. Customs Service
400 Michigan Avenue
Detroit, Michigan 48226

Re: Application for Further Review of Protest No.: 3501-99-00028 Lunch Box Style Metal Container; Tinplated Iron or Steel; Subheading 7326.90.1000, HTSUS.

Dear Port Director:

This is in response to the request for further review of a protest timely filed by Schylling Associates, Inc., against your decision on the proper classification of a lunch box style metal container. The item was originally entered under subheading 9503.90.0045, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), the provision for other toys, and was liquidated under subheading 4202.19.0000, HTSUSA, the provision for trunks, suitcases, vanity cases, attache cases, briefcases, school satchels and similar containers, other. The protester contends that the proper classification for the lunch box is under subheading 7326.90.1000, HTSUSA, the provision for other articles of iron or steel, other, of tinplate. Our decision follows.


The article at issue is identified on the invoice as "Curious George Tin Box with Red Handle PMS 485C". The UPC number on the sample submitted with the application for further review is 19649 20275. The sample submitted is a container in the shape of traditional school lunch box manufactured wholly of tinplated steel. The metal container measures seven and one-half (7 1/2) inches in width, six (6) inches in height and three and three-eighths (3 3/8) inches in depth. It has a flat plastic handle that is attached to the top of the container and swivels from side to side. One of the sides of the containers opens outward by means of three loop-style hinges on the bottom. The opening secures closed through the use of a metal clasp on the top. The outside of the container has a Kermit the Frog motif. Customs is advised that the container will be imported empty. The container is made of tinplated steel; however, it is not constructed for long-term or rigorous use. The handle, hinges, and the metal clasp are not designed or constructed for significant wear.


Is the merchandise properly classifiable in subheading 4202.19.0000, HTSUSA, or in subheading 7326.90.1000, HTSUSA?


The federal agency responsible for initially interpreting and applying the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is the U.S. Customs Service. The Customs Service, in accordance with its legislative mandate, classifies imported merchandise pursuant to the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI) and the Additional U.S. Rules of Interpretation.

General Rule of Interpretation 1 provides, in part, that classification decisions are to be “determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes.” General Rule of Interpretation 1. General Rule of Interpretation 1 further states that merchandise which cannot be classified in accordance with the dictates of GRI 1 should be classified pursuant to the other General Rules of Interpretation, provided the HTSUSA chapter headings or notes do not require otherwise. According to the Explanatory Notes (EN), the phrase in GRI 1, “provided such headings or notes do not otherwise require,” is intended to “make it quite clear that the terms of the headings and any relative Section or Chapter Notes are paramount.” General Rules for the Interpretation of the Harmonized System, Rule 1, Explanatory Note (V).

The Explanatory Notes constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. See Joint Explanatory Statement supra note 1, at 549. The Explanatory Notes, although neither legally binding nor dispositive of classification issues, do provide commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS. The EN’s are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of the headings. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127-28 (Aug. 23, 1989); Lonza, Inc. v. United States, 46 F. 3rd 1098, 1109 (Fed. Cir. 1995).

Commencing classification of the traditional school lunch box shaped container in accordance with the dictates of GRI 1, the Customs Service examined the headings of Chapter 73, Articles of Iron or Steel, of the HTSUSA. Customs concludes that all of the containers subject to this protest are properly classified in heading 7326, HTSUSA, pursuant to GRI 1. Heading 7326, HTSUSA, more specifically than any other heading in the tariff schedule, describes the containers.

Customs notes that heading 7326, HTSUSA, is a residual or basket provision into which merchandise of iron or steel not described by any other heading of Chapter 73 is classified. Although the classification decision arrived at by this office relies on General Rule of Interpretation 1, this determination was made by a process of elimination, only subsequent to considering all of the headings of Chapter 73, particularly headings 7310, HTSUSA, and 7323, HTSUSA.

Heading 7310, HTSUSA, provides for “Tanks, casks, drums, cans, boxes and similar containers, for any material (other than compressed or liquefied gas), of iron or steel, of a capacity not exceeding 300 liters, whether or not lined or heat insulated, but not fitted with mechanical or thermal equipment.” The EN to heading 7310, HTSUSA, Explanatory Note 73.10, provides an illustrative list of “larger containers,” as well as “smaller containers” that are properly classified in heading 7310, HTSUSA. Explanatory Note 73.10. The smaller containers “include boxes, cans, tins, etc.” and are “mainly used as sales packings for butter, milk, beer, preserves, fruit or fruit juices, biscuits, tea, confectionery, tobacco, cigarettes, shoe cream, medicaments, etc.” Explanatory Note 73.10.

Although the container subject to this protest falls within the EN description of “boxes, cans, tins, etc.,” they are not “mainly used as sales packings.” Explanatory Note 73.10. See generally HQ 963670 (April 12, 2002) (discussing merchandise classified in heading 7310, HTSUSA, and providing a list of precedential Customs Service ruling letters).

Heading 7323, HTSUSA, provides, in pertinent part, for the classification of “Table, kitchen or other household articles and parts thereof, of iron or steel.” The Explanatory Notes to heading 7323, HTSUSA, state that this heading “comprises a wide range of iron or steel articles…used for table, kitchen or other household purposes.” Explanatory Note 73.23. The EN further provides an extensive list of articles considered being for kitchen, table and other household uses. See Explanatory Note 73.23. Kitchen articles include items “such as saucepans, steamers…; frying pans…; kettles; colanders; …jelly and pastry moulds;…kitchen storage tins and canisters…funnels.” Explanatory Note 73.23(A)(1). Articles for table use include “trays, dishes, plates…sugar basins, butter dishes…coffee pots…tea pots; cups, mugs…cruets; knife rests;…serviette rings, table cloth clips.” Explanatory Note 73.23(A)(2). Items enumerated as “other household articles” encompass articles such as “wash coppers and boilers; dustbins, buckets…watering cans; ash-trays;…baskets for laundry, fruit vegetables, etc.; letter-boxes…luncheon boxes.” Explanatory Note 73.23(A)(1).

It is the conclusion of the Customs Service, subsequent to a review of this list, that the container subject to this protest is not analogous. Merchandise properly classified in heading 7323, HTSUSA, is limited in scope to table, kitchen or other household articles made of iron or steel. The container under review in this protest may not reasonably be described as table, kitchen or household articles. See generally HQ 956218 (Aug. 23, 1994), NY C88472 (June 24, 1998), NY 813291 (Aug. 23, 1995) and NY 808180 (Mar. 24, 1995).

The container subject to classification consideration in this protest may be used in the kitchen or around the home, but it is not designed nor specifically intended for kitchen or household use. Customs also concludes that it is not table articles.

It is Customs determination that the heading that is most descriptive of the lunch box style container is heading 7326, HTSUSA. Heading 7326, HTSUSA, provides very simply for “Other articles of iron or steel.” Heading 7326, HTSUSA, as previously stated is a residual provision and encompasses the classification of “all articles of iron or steel…other than articles included in the preceding headings of this Chapter or …more specifically covered elsewhere in the Nomenclature.” Explanatory Note 73.26.

Understanding that heading 7326, HTSUSA, is a residual or basket provision into which all merchandise properly classified in Chapter 73, HTSUSA, falls by default when a more descriptive heading in the chapter does not exist, the variety of iron or steel merchandise that is properly classified in heading 7326, HTSUSA, is broad. This is confirmed by a further reading of the Explanatory Notes. The Explanatory Note that correspond to heading 7326, HTSUSA, Explanatory Note 73.26, offers an extensive listing of merchandise that is classified in heading 7326, HTSUSA.

Explanatory Note 73.26 (3) provides that heading 7326, HTSUSA, covers “Certain boxes and cases, e.g., 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); botanists’, etc., collection or specimen cases, trinket boxes; cosmetic or powder boxes and cases; cigarette cases, tobacco boxes, cachou boxes, etc. but not including containers of heading 73.10, household containers (heading 73.23), nor ornaments (heading 83.06). (Emphasis added). The container subject to this protest is not easily analogous to the “boxes and cases” specifically identified in the EN, but this is not necessary. The drafters of the EN’s, by employing the phrases “e.g.” and “etc.” in EN 73.26, exhibited an intent that the identified articles were only intended to be representative or illustrative.

It is the conclusion of the Customs Service that the container in issue and the articles identified by example in EN 73.26 share enough common features to warrant the classification of the container in heading 7326, HTSUSA. The container in issue is essentially a steel box, the size of which according to a reading of EN 73.26 may vary significantly. The container is larger than trinket and cachou boxes, smaller than tool boxes. It is not specially shaped nor internally fitted. The possible uses of the container are similar to the anticipated uses of the containers referenced in the EN. It may carry a variety of items, none of which fall into any particular category that might preclude classification of the container in heading 7326, HTSUSA. As should be appreciated, there is no single example provided for in EN 73.26 to which Customs may point as the perfect example of a container similar to that subject to this protest. Customs has, however, demonstrated that there are a significant number of common characteristics between the container in issue and the “boxes and cases” illustrated in Explanatory Note 73.26 to warrant classification in heading 7326, HTSUSA.

Although Customs has discussed the similarities between the relevant merchandise and the items identified in the Explanatory Notes to heading 7326, HTSUSA, it is important to remember that since heading 7326, HTSUSA, is a basket or residual provision it is only necessary to determine that the merchandise subject to this protest is not excluded from heading 7326, HTSUSA, nor specifically provided for elsewhere in the tariff schedule. Customs concludes that the merchandise is not precluded from classification in heading 7326, HTSUSA, nor is it specifically provided for in another tariff schedule heading.

Continuing the classification of the traditional school lunch box shaped containers at the subheading level, the container is classified in subheading 7326.90.1000, HTSUSA. See generally NY H81764 (June 19, 2001), NY F81395 (Jan. 13, 2000) and NY B80840 (Jan. 10, 1997). Subheading 7326.90.1000, HTSUSA, provides for the classification of

7326 Other articles of iron or steel:


Of tinplate.

The Customs Service specifically notes that is has not undertaken a laboratory analysis to confirm that the containers in issue are tinplated. Should the containers not prove to be tinplated, this would significantly impact the classification and rate of duty of this merchandise and, additionally, bear negatively on the importer’s obligation to use reasonable care in the classification, value and entry of its merchandise.

Although not raised as an issue in this protest, substantially similar merchandise is frequently imported with edibles. Headquarters Ruling Letter 963670 addressed the classification of the containers and the edibles when imported together. Supra.

It is noted that Customs liquidated the entries in subheading 4202.19.0000, HTSUSA. Heading 4202, HTSUSA, provides for the classification of:

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, insulated food or beverage 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 sheeting of plastics, of textile materials, of vulcanized fiber, or of paperboard, or wholly of mainly covered with such materials or with paper.

Customs, during the course of this administrative review, determined that the merchandise in issue was not similar to the items designated by name in the first part of heading 4202, HTSUSA, that aspect which precedes the semi-colon. It was also determined that consideration of the items listed in the second part of the heading was unnecessary because those articles must be made of specific materials and iron and steel, of which the containers are composed, are not enumerated materials. Since Customs determined that the metal container here is not similar to the containers designated eo nomine in heading 4202, HTSUSA, Customs re-examined the headings of the HTSUSA and has concluded that the merchandise is properly classified in heading 7326, HTSUSA.

The Customs Service is aware of HQ 964234 (April 23, 2001), HQ 961707 (Mar. 19, 1999) and PD C85024 (Mar. 31, 1998) classifying similar metal containers in Chapter 42, HTSUSA. Customs is re-examining the classification of this merchandise and considering whether this merchandise should be classified in heading 7326, HTSUSA, of Chapter 73. If a decision is made to re-classify the merchandise addressed in the identified ruling letters, the Customs Service will proceed in accordance with 19 U.S.C. 1625 (c).


The Protest is ALLOWED.

The traditional school lunch box shaped container is properly classified in subheading 7326.90.1000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated.

The General Column 1 Rate of Duty is FREE.

In accordance with Customs Directive 099 3550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, section 3 A. (11) (b), you are to mail this decision and the Protest (Customs Form 19) to the Protesant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry or entries in accordance with this decision must be accomplished prior to mailing the decision.

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


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division