Mr. Michael Hostrawser
220 Myrtle Street East
Stillwater, MN 55082
RE: The tariff classification of Stationery Items from China
Dear Mr. Hostrawser:
In your letter, dated October 5, 2018, you requested a tariff classification ruling on several stationery items. Photographs and descriptive literature were provided in lieu of samples.
Item 33445, is a set of 15 paper thank you cards with matching envelopes. On the face of each bifolded card is printed, “Thank You” with a decorative illustration within the letter A. The inside is blank.
Item 30433 you describe as “flat note cards.” The set of 40 note cards and envelopes are packaged together. Each paperboard note card (3.3” x 4.7”) has rounded corners and features a face printed with a floral design over much of its surface. The back is blank to allow for a written message.
Item number 81163, the “Wedding Invitation Kit” includes 30 paper invitations (4.75” x 6.75”) with corresponding envelopes, 30 invitation cover jackets, 30 RSVP cards with corresponding envelopes, and decorative cordage that can be wrapped around each finished invitation as embellishment. The stationery items are packaged together for retail sale. The invitations, which are creased for folding after retail purchase, are blank inside and bear a printed design of two birds perched on a tree branch on the face. The RSVP cards are blank except for the image of two small birds near the top center of the cards. Information pertaining to the date, time, location and other particulars of the event will be added by the consumer after purchase.
Item 61302 you describe as “program cards.” The 50 uncoated paperboard cards (3.25” x 8.5”) packaged for retail sale are blank and feature a white-on-white embossed and foil-stamped border on one side of the card. The cards are creased for folding after retail purchase. You identify the cards as “bifold”, but the photo provided shows a card that is creased twice for trifold presentation. After retail purchase, the consumer will print details on the cards regarding the social function for distribution to guests.
Item 32314 you describe as “flat panel note cards.” The set of 10 pale pink note cards and matching envelopes are packaged together. Each paperboard card (3.5” x 5”) is blank on its face, but for a simple, subtle white border. The back is also blank. The interior flaps of the envelopes are printed with a floral pattern.
Beginning with item 33445, the thank you cards with envelopes, you propose classification in subheading 4909.00.4000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), as a printed card bearing a personal greeting, message or announcement. We agree. The pre-printed message of thanks constitutes a personal greeting or message.
The applicable subheading for item 33445, the thank you cards, will be 4909.00.4000, HTSUS, which provides for “Printed or illustrated postcards; printed cards bearing personal greetings, messages or announcements, whether or not illustrated, with or without envelopes or trimmings.” The rate of duty will be free.
For items 30433, 81163, 61302, and 32314 you propose classification in various subheadings within heading 4911, HTSUS, which provide for printed articles, including printed pictures, designs and photographs,
The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System. While not legally binding nor dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings.
The General EN to Chapter 49, HTSUS, provides in pertinent part: “With the few exceptions referred to below, this Chapter covers all printed matter of which the essential nature and use is determined by the fact of its being printed with motifs, characters or pictorial representations...” An exception referred to later in the notes are goods “…in which the printing is merely incidental to their primary use (e.g. printed wrapping paper and printed stationery) fall in Chapter 48.”
Therefore, we must also consider classification in chapter 48, HTSUS. Heading 4817, HTSUS, provides for “Envelopes, letter cards, plain postcards and correspondence cards, of paper or paperboard; boxes, pouches, wallets and writing compendiums, of paper or paperboard, containing an assortment of stationery.”
The ENs to Heading 4817, HTSUS, state “These articles may be printed with addresses, names, trademarks, decorations, crests, initials etc., merely incidental to their use as stationery.” Therefore, this heading provides for blank stationery items and those with printed elements that are merely incidental to their use as stationery.
Item 30433, the “flat note cards,” and item 32314, the “flat panel note cards,” are “correspondence cards” as specifically provided for in the heading language of heading 4817, HTSUS. Correspondence cards are further described in the ENs to heading 4817, HTSUS, as follows: “Correspondence cards do not fall in this heading unless they have deckled or gilt edges or rounded corners, or are printed or otherwise prepared in such a manner as to clearly indicate their use as stationery.” The instant “flat note cards” have rounded corners and are packaged with envelopes indicating their use as stationery. The blank reverse of the card allows the writer to add a personal message of correspondence. The “flat panel note cards” are printed or otherwise prepared and packaged with corresponding envelopes indicating their use as stationery. The blank space on both the front and reverse allow for written correspondence. As such, heading 4817, HTSUS, best describes the articles. The cards and envelopes constitute a set for the purposes of GRI 3(b) and will be classified according to the item that imparts the essential character, the cards.
The applicable subheading for item 30433, the “flat note cards” and item 32314, the “flat panel note cards,” will be 4817.20.4000, HTSUS, which provides for “Letter cards, plain postcards and correspondence cards: Other.” The rate of duty will be free.
It is the opinion of this office that the decorative printing used to ornament the “Wedding Invitation Kit” (Item 81163) stationery items is merely incidental to their use as stationery. Their essential nature and use is not determined by the printed motifs or pictorial representations. Rather, the significant open space provided on the stationery items will allow the consumer to add the key information, including the date, time and location of the wedding.
The applicable subheading for item 81163, the “Wedding Invitation Kit,” will be 4817.30.0000, HTSUS, which provides for “Boxes, pouches, wallets and writing compendiums, of paper or paperboard, containing an assortment of paper stationery.” The rate of duty will be free.
In your request, you suggest that the “program cards” (Item 61302) are classifiable under subheading 4911.99.8000, HTSUS, as other printed matter. We disagree. The foil stamping and embossing on the cards are merely incidental to their use; the cards’ use would be unchanged without these treatments. Therefore, classification in heading 4911, HTSUS, as printed matter, is precluded. The program cards do not have a function akin to stationery, and while marketed with wedding merchandise, can be used for multiple purposes. Simply, they are embossed, foil-stamped paperboard that has been creased for folding. These operations together preclude classification in any standard paper classification in Chapter 48, HTSUS. Therefore, they will be classified as other articles of paper.
The applicable subheading for Item 61302, “program cards”, will be 4823.90.8600, HTSUS, which provides for Other paper, paperboard, cellulose wadding and webs of cellulose fibers, cut to size or shape; other articles of paper pulp, paper, paperboard, cellulose wadding or webs of cellulose fibers: Other: Other: Other: Other: Other. The rate of duty will be free.
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 the World Wide Web at https://hts.usitc.gov/current.
Effective July 6, 2018, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) imposed an additional tariff on certain products of China classified in the subheadings enumerated in Section XXII, Chapter 99, Subchapter III U.S. Note 20(b), HTSUS. The USTR imposed additional tariffs, effective August 23, 2018, on products classified under the subheadings enumerated in Section XXII, Chapter 99, Subchapter III U.S. Note 20(d), HTSUS. Subsequently, the USTR imposed further tariffs, effective September 24, 2018, on products classified under the subheadings enumerated in Section XXII, Chapter 99, Subchapter III U.S. Note 20(f) and U.S. Note 20(g), HTSUS. For additional information, please see the relevant Federal Register notices dated June 20, 2018 (83 F.R. 28710), August 16, 2018 (83 F.R. 40823), and September 21, 2018 (83 F.R. 47974). Products of China that are provided for in subheading 9903.88.01, 9903.88.02, 9903.88.03, or 9903.88.04 and classified in one of the subheadings enumerated in U.S. Note 20(b), U.S. Note 20(d), U.S. Note 20(f) or U.S. Note 20(g) to subchapter III shall continue to be subject to antidumping, countervailing, or other duties, fees and charges that apply to such products, as well as to those imposed by the aforementioned Chapter 99 subheadings.
Products of China classified under subheadings 4817.20.4000, HTSUS, 4817.30.0000, HTSUS, and 4823.90.8600, HTSUS, unless specifically excluded, are subject to the additional 10 percent ad valorem rate of duty. At the time of importation, you must report the Chapter 99 subheading, i.e., 9903.88.03, in addition to subheadings 4817.20.4000, HTSUS, 4817.30.0000 and 4823 listed above.
The tariff is subject to periodic amendment so you should exercise reasonable care in monitoring the status of goods covered by the Notice cited above and the applicable Chapter 99 subheading.
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 Charlene Miller at [email protected].
Steven A. Mack
National Commodity Specialist Division