Mr. John M. Peterson
Neville Peterson LLP
17 State Street, 19th Floor
New York, NY 10004
RE: The tariff classification of plastic screen protectors from China
Dear Mr. Petersen:
In your letter dated August 16, 2010, on behalf of Import Marketing Solutions Inc./PROMark Inc., you requested a tariff classification ruling.
Two sample packages were provided with your letter. The plastic screen protectors are designed to fit over the iPhone 3G and 3GS to keep the touch-screen clean and protect it against scratches and abrasions. There are two screen protectors to a package. Each screen protector consists of a flat plastic sheet with rounded corners and measures approximately 4 ¼ inches by 2 3/16 inches. There is a small circular cut-out at the bottom end of the protector which is designed to allow a person access to a button on the front of the iPhone. There is a small oval cut-out at the top end designed to access the ear speaker for the phone.
Item 080 08 0053 is marketed as a twin pack containing one mirror finish screen protector and one clear screen protector. The mirror finish protector looks like a mirror until the screen is activated, at which point the screen protector becomes transparent. Item 080 08 0144 is marketed as a privacy screen protector kit that includes a bonus clear protector. The privacy protector is a smoky colored sheet that prevents onlookers from seeing what is on the screen by blocking images seen from side angles. Each of the assortments is packaged with a small wiping cloth used to clean the screen of the iPhone. No reference is made to this cloth on the packaging.
The samples are being returned as you requested.
You suggest classification of the screen protectors with wiping cloth as a set, with the essential character imparted by the screen protectors. The Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized Tariff System provide guidance in the interpretation of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System at the international level. Explanatory Note X to GRI 3(b) provides that the term "goods put up in sets for retail sale" means goods that: (a) consist of at least two different articles which are, prima facie, classifiable in different headings; (b) consist of articles put up together to meet a particular need or carry out a specific activity; and (c) are put up in a manner suitable for sale directly to users without repacking. Goods classifiable under GRI 3(b) are classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, which may be determined by the nature of the material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the article. This office agrees that each assortment, which consists of two screen protectors and one wiping cloth, comprises a set for tariff classification purposes, and that the essential character is imparted by the screen protectors.
You believe that the screen protectors should be considered to be accessories to the devices that they protect, and you suggest classification in subheading 8522.90.75, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), which provides for other parts and accessories suitable for use solely or principally with the apparatus of headings 8519 to 8521. This office agrees that the protectors are accessories for the devices. However, although you state that the screen protectors are exclusively for use with the iPod Touch and the iPhone, the retail packaging clearly indicates that the screen protectors are designed for use with the iPhone. Such devices are described in heading 8517, not 8519 through 8521, so an accessory to such devices cannot be classified as an accessory to an article of headings 8519 through 8521. Since the screen protectors are accessories and there is no accessory provision within heading 8517, classification of the screen protectors within heading 8517 is inapplicable.
In your description you state that the screen protectors have a light adhesive so that they can be adhered to the touch-screen. Heading 3919 provides for self-adhesive flat shapes of plastics. The Explanatory Notes to heading 3919 states that the heading is “limited to flat shapes which are pressure-sensitive, i.e., which at room temperature, without wetting or other addition, are permanently tacky (on one or both sides) and which firmly adhere to a variety of dissimilar surfaces upon mere contact, without the need for more than finger or hand pressure.” The adhesive has only enough tackiness to adhere it lightly onto the screen and then only if it is applied immediately upon removal of the protective backing onto a screen that has no dust. It does not firmly adhere to a variety of dissimilar surfaces and does not meet the requirements for classification in heading 3919.
The applicable subheading for the iPhone 3G and 3GS screen protectors, assortments 080 08 0053 and 080 08 0144, will be 3926.90.9980, HTSUS, which provides for other articles of plastics, other. The rate of duty will be 5.3 percent ad valorem.
Duty rates are provided for your convenience and are subject to change. The text of the most recent HTSUS and the accompanying duty rates are provided on World Wide Web at http://www.usitc.gov/tata/hts/.
This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 177).
A copy of the ruling or the control number indicated above should be provided with the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If you have any questions regarding the ruling, contact National Import Specialist Joan Mazzola at (646) 733-3023.
Robert B. Swierupski
National Commodity Specialist Division