CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 089019 CRS
Ms. Denise Roy
Customs and Excise
Ottawa, Canada K1A 0L5
RE: Roofing material consisting of nonwoven substrate completely
enveloped in a heavy layer or coating of asphalt classifiable as
article of asphalt. HRL 084035. Goods originating in Canada.
Dear Ms. Roy:
This is in reply to your letter dated March 25, 1991, on
behalf of IKO Industries, Ltd, concerning the classification of
roofing boards under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United
States Annotated (HTSUSA). Samples were submitted.
The merchandise in question consists of modified bitumen
roofing membranes from Canada known commercially as Armourplast
APP and Modiflex/Torchflex SBS. These products are manufactured
in various thicknesses but are otherwise roughly similar, being
comprised of a nonwoven polyester reinforcing mat or substrate
coated on both sides with Atactic Polypropylene (APP) or Styrene
Butadiene Styrene (SBB) modified bitumen. In some instances,
e.g., Armourplast 45 Cap, ceramic-clad mineral granules are
embedded in the upper surface of the bitumen membranes. A
protective film of thin, light polypropylene film may be bonded
to the underside of the membranes.
The membranes are manufactured in the following thicknesses:
Armourplast 45 Cap, 4.5 mm; Armourplast 40 Classic, 4.0 mm;
Armourplast 35 Classic, 3.5 mm; Armourplast Roofwalk, 8.5 mm;
Modiflex MP Cap, 4.0 mm; Modiflex MF-95-SS-Base, 2.2 mm; Modiflex
MF-95-FS-Base, 2.2 mm; Modiflex MP-180-FS-Base, 2.2 mm; Torchflex
TP Cap, 4.0 mm; Torchflex TP-180-FF-Base, 3.0 mm.
In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 083541 dated November
22, 1989, a roofing product 3 mm thick consisting of a single ply
nonwoven polyester substrate coated on both sides with asphalt,
which itself was coated on one side with a layer of stone chips,
was classified in heading 5603, HTSUSA. Similarly, in HRL 087565
dated November 13, 1990, two nonwoven membranes, 3 mm and 4 mm
thick, coated on both sides with an elastomeric bitumen, were
classified in heading 5603. You have asked that we reconsider
HRL 083541 and, by implication, HRL 087565.
Whether roofing membrane consisting of a textile substrate
embedded in asphalt is classifiable as a coated or covered felt
or as an article of asphalt.
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
In this case, there are two headings in which the instant
merchandise may be classified: heading 5603; and heading 6807.
Heading 5603, HTSUSA, provides for nonwovens, whether or not
impregnated, coated, covered, or laminated. The Harmonized
Commodity Description and Coding System, Explanatory Notes (EN),
while not legally binding constitute the official interpretation
of the Harmonized System at the international level. EN 56.03,
775, provides that heading 5603 covers:
certain "roofing felts" in which the textile fibres are
agglomerated with tar or similar substances, and
certain products known as "bitumen felts" obtained in
the same way but incorporating a small quantity of cork
On this basis we held in HRL 083541 and HRL 087565 that nonwoven
substrates embedded in asphalt were classifiable in heading 5603.
In contrast, heading 6807, HTSUSA, provides for articles of
asphalt or of similar material (for example, petroleum bitumen or
coal tar pitch). EN 68.07 provides in pertinent part that the
(2) Roofing boards consisting of a substrate (e.g., of
paperboard, of web or fabric of glass fibre, of
fabric of man-made fibre or jute, or of aluminium
foil) completely enveloped in, or covered on both
sides by, a layer of asphalt or similar material.
The products in question are made from a layer of nonwoven fabric
completely enveloped in asphalt bitumen.
In addition to HRL 083541 and HRL 087565, HRL 084035 dated
December 18, 1990, also concerned the classification of roofing
products, specifically, roll roofing and strip shingles
consisting of a felt substrate (paper fibers and wood particles)
coated and impregnated with asphalt and covered on one side with
crushed gravel. The issue was whether these products were
properly classifiable as asphalted paper of heading 4811, or as
articles of asphalt of heading 6807. Citing EN 68.07 we stated
in pertinent part at 6:
Although the term "roofing board" is not specifically
defined . . . the above-discussed language from the
Explanatory Notes clearly indicates that the heading
6807 provision for "articles of asphalt" contemplates
and encompasses within its coverage products consisting
of a substrate that is completely enveloped in a heavy
or thick (as opposed to light or superficial) layer or
coating of asphalt and used for roofing. (This
analysis does not include consideration of a substrate
completely enveloped in a heavy or thick layer or
coating of asphalt while also containing on one surface
a layer of mineral granules in support of the asphalt's
weather-resistant properties. Of course, such a
product would be something more than merely "asphalted
paper and paperboard," and could only be classified as
that of an "article of asphalt" under heading 6807.
ALthough the competing provision here is heading 5603 rather than
heading 4811, the principle of HRL 084035, viz., that a product
consisting of a substrate that is completely enveloped in a heavy
or thick layer of asphalt is encompassed by the terms of heading
6807, is applicable to the instant merchandise. The roofing
membranes are made from a nonwoven substrate completely enveloped
in asphalt; accordingly, they are classifiable in heading 6807.
The articles classifiable in heading 5603, in contrast, are
fabrics to which a light or superficial coating has been applied.
HRL 084035 at 6. Indeed, this is suggested by the language of EN
56.03 which states that heading 5603 covers roofing felts where
textile fibres are agglomerated with tar or similar substances,
i.e., clustered or gathered together, but which nevertheless
remain visible through the coating.
General Note 3(c)(vii), HTSUSA, provides that goods
originating in the territory of Canada are eligible for the
tariff treatment set forth in the "Special" subcolumn of the
HTSUSA, in accordance with section 201 of the United States-
Canada Free-Trade Agreement Implementation Act of 1988. The
roofing products at issue are wholly produced in Canada and
therefore qualify as goods originating in Canada. General Note
If imported in rolls, the roofing membranes in question are
classifiable in subheading 6807.10.0000, HTSUSA, under the
provision for articles of asphalt or of similar material (for
example, petroleum bitumen or coal tar pitch); in rolls. As
goods originating in Canada, the roofing membranes are dutiable
at the rate of 1.9 percent ad valorem. The general rate of duty
for products in the above subheading is 4.9 percent ad valorem.
If imported other than in rolls, the roofing membranes are
classifiable in subheading 6807.90.0010, HTSUSA, under the
provision for articles of asphalt . . . ; other; articles of a
kind used for roofing or siding. As goods originating in Canada,
the roofing membranes are dutiable at the rate of 2.1 percent.
The general rate of duty for articles classifiable in this
subheading is 5.3 percent ad valorem.
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division