CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 085012 SLR
John A. Bessich, Esquire
Follick & Bessich, P.C.
New York, New York 10007
RE: Classification of earmuffs
Dear Mr. Bessich:
This ruling is in response to your letter of June 6, 1989,
on behalf of your client, Arlington Hat Co., Inc., requesting the
classification of earmuffs under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule
of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). Samples were provided.
The submitted merchandise consists of five different styles
of earmuffs: Regular, Jumbo, Halo, Pet and Rabbit. Each of the
earmuffs is constructed of a nylon plastic frame, acrylic textile
fabric (or rabbit fur in the case of the Rabbit earmuffs)
forming the outer surface of the portion covering the ears.
Polyurethane foam (or Thinsulate in the case of the Regular
earmuffs) lies between the plastic frame and the outer textile
material or rabbit fur.
Whether the earmuffs are classifiable under the HTSUSA as
plastic apparel accessories or textile clothing accessories
(except for the Rabbit earmuffs); or, in the case of the Rabbit
earmuffs only, clothing accessories of furskin.
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is in
accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI), taken
in order. (GRI) 1 provides that classification is determined
according to the terms of the headings and any relevant section
or chapter notes. No heading within the HTSUSA exists in which
to classify articles made of textile fabric (or rabbit fur) and
plastic such as the earmuffs at issue. GRI 2, therefore, must be
GRI 2(a) refers to incomplete or unfinished articles, and
so does not apply to this case. GRI 2(b) refers to goods
consisting of more than one material or substance as being
classifiable according to GRI 3.
Following GRI 2(b), two headings may apply to the Regular,
Jumbo, Halo and Pet style earmuffs: 3926, other articles of
plastic, and 6117, other made up clothing accessories of knit
textile fabric. As for the Rabbit earmuffs, headings 3926 and
4303, other articles of furskin, may apply. Under 3(a), the
competing headings must be regarded as equally specific since
each refers to only part of the materials from which the earmuffs
Since the concept of relative specificity is of no value to
this case, classification must be determined by the application
of GRI 3(b). That rule provides that composite goods of
different materials, which cannot be classified by reference to
3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material
which gives them their essential character.
The Explanatory Notes (EN) to the HTSUSA constitute the
official interpretaion of the tariff at the international level.
The Explanatory Note to GRI 3(b) states that the essential
character 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 goods.
It is the opinion of this office that the role of the
acrylic knit in relation to the use of the merchandise at issue
clearly indicates that the textile portion is indispensable to
the functioning of this product. The same can be said for the
rabbit fur. These materials ease the discomfort felt around the
outer ear caused by cold temperatures. Plastic alone cannot
function in this manner.
As a separate but equally important matter, the Regular,
Jumbo, Halo, and Pet earmuffs constitute "apparel and clothing
accessories" not "other garments" under the HTSUSA. The notes
for Chapter 61 limit the application of headings involving
"garments" to those items which cover the trunk of the body.
They exclude items which cover only the head or lower legs or
arms. The general Explanatory Notes to Chapter 61, along with EN
61.14, also support this position. Here, the earmuffs in
issue closely resemble several of the articles deemed
"accessories" according to EN 61.17: scarves, mufflers, muffs,
mantillas, and veils.
The Regular, Jumbo, Halo, and Pet earmuffs are classifiable
under subheading 6117.80.0030, HTSUSA, as other made up clothing
accessories, knitted, other accessories, of man-made fibers,
textile category 659, dutiable at 15.5% ad valorem.
The Rabbit earmuffs are classifiable under subheading
4303.10.0060, HTSUSA, as articles of apparel, clothing
accessories and other articles of furskin, other, dutiable at
5.8% ad valorem.
Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation
(the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the
restraint (quota/visa) categories, you should contact your local
Customs office prior to importation of this merchandise to
determine the current status of any import restraints or
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division