CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 951640 jb

William J. LeClair
Trans-Border Customs Services, Inc.
One Trans-Border Drive
P.O. Box 800
Champlain, NY 12919

RE: Neck protector and hockey official's pants; subheading 9506.99.2580, HTSUSA and 6114.30.3060, HTSUSA; pants qualify for inclusion under Chapter 99, HTSUSA

Dear Mr. LeClair:

This is in response to your letter dated March 17, 1992, on behalf of your client, Sport Maska, Inc., requesting classification of two items used in the game of hockey; a player's neck protector and pants worn by officials. Samples were provided to this office and will be returned under separate cover.


The submitted merchandise consists of two articles used in the game of hockey. One sample is identified as a neck collar, Style No. HT820, stated to be worn by hockey players. The collar has a polyurethane foam center covered by nylon pile fabric. The sample elliptical-shaped collar is approximately 18 inches overall in length and two inches in height. It fits around the neck and is secured in the front by Velcro tabs. A cotton web tab on the front allows the collar to be attached to the player's uniform shirt. The neck collar is available in various lengths.

The second sample is a pair of black knit pants, identified as Style No. PP9L, constructed of 100 percent polyester fabric. You assert that the pants are exclusively designed and made for use by hockey officials. Extra fullness at the legs and hips to accommodate the protective equipment to be worn underneath is characteristic of the pants. The pants feature a web belt with plastic locking buckle and web belt loops, metal buttons for suspenders, four extra large pockets to hold hockey pucks (one zippered) and a zippered fly front. Both the neck collar and hockey pants are made in Canada. ISSUE:

1. Whether the neck collar is classifiable under Chapter 95, HTSUSA, which provides for toys, games and sports equipment; parts and accessories thereof ? 2. Whether the hockey pants are classifiable under heading 6103, HTSUSA, as pants, or under heading 6114, HTSUSA, as other garments?

3. Whether the ice hockey pants qualify for inclusion under subheading 9902.62.01, HTSUSA?


Classification of merchandise under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 requires that classification be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, taken in order. Where goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, the remaining GRI will be applied, in the order of their appearance.

Neck Collar

An examination of heading 9506, HTSUSA, reveals that the items specifically provided for include skis, skates, balls, rackets, golf clubs or other exercise equipment. These items are apparatus for use while engaging or participating in the sport; a physical necessity for the sport.

The submitted sample is not a sports article or equipment, necessary in the conduct or pursuit of a sport, in this case, ice hockey. While it may be worn as a neck support for increased comfort or to compensate for an existing weakness in the physical condition of the player, it is not equipment necessary in the play of the sport. The relationship of the apparatus is to the player, not to the actual playing of the game or sport.

The Explanatory Notes (EN) to the HTSUSA, while not legally binding, constitute the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level. It has been the practice of the Customs Service to follow, whenever possible, those terms when interpreting the HTSUSA.

Though the EN to heading 9506, HTSUSA, excludes sports clothing of textile materials, of Chapter 61 and 62, the notes also indicate that the heading does cover: (B) Requisites for other sports and outdoor games:

(13) Protective equipment for sports or games, e.g., fencing masks and breast plates, elbow and knee pads, cricket pads, shin-guards.

A limited survey of local sport equipment wholesalers and retailers has led us to ascertain that when worn, this neck collar is used primarily for its specially designed protective qualities, especially against skate blade and high stick strikes. As such, we believe that the subject neck protector is specially designed protective equipment for use in the sport of ice hockey and classified under subheading 9506.99.2580, HTSUSA, which provides for ice-hockey and field-hockey articles and equipment, except balls and skates and parts and accessories thereof, other, including parts and accessories. Hockey Pants Comparisons were done on the submitted merchandise with specifications for men's pants size medium. The results revealed the following approximate oversizing: the waist- four inches; the front rise (above the belt)- two and one quarter inches; the seat width- two inches, and the thigh width- one half inch. We believe the extra fullness in these areas is commensurate with the fullness required if one intended to wear normal protective padding or a hockey girdle under the pants.

As was discussed previously, heading 9506, HTSUSA, embraces only certain forms of protective gear, whereas sports clothing is specifically excluded. Heading 6103 is also not applicable as it does not specifically provide for pants used in sports, but trousers in general. Classification thus devolves to heading 6114, HTSUSA, a "basket" provision which encompasses other garments, knitted or crocheted. The EN to that heading state:

This heading covers knitted or crocheted garments which are not included more specifically in the preceding headings of this Chapter.

The heading includes, inter alia,

(5) Special articles of apparel used for certain sports or for dancing or gymnastics (e.g., fencing clothing, jockeys' silks, ballet skirts, leotards).

As was stated in HQ 086973, dated April 30, 1990, regarding similar merchandise,

...while Customs is of the opinion that hockey pants are 'special articles of apparel used for certain sports'..., Customs also considers that the term 'certain' limits the scope of the heading to those articles of sporting apparel which, protective or otherwise, are as a general matter, worn only while engaging in the activity for which they were designed.

The particular function of these pants is manifested in the way in which they are specially sized to fit over protective padding worn during the course of a hockey game. The sizing is proportional to the protective equipment to be worn underneath and as such the pants would not be worn except while engaged in this activity.

No distinction is made in the EN which would limit the subheading to garments worn only by active participants in a sport, i.e., a player as opposed to a referee or other official. Based on the construction and stated purpose of this garment, the ice-hockey pants would be classified under subheading 6114.30.3060, HTSUSA, which provides for other garments, knitted or crocheted, of man-made fibers: other: other: men's or boys'.

Qualification Under Chapter 99, HTSUSA

The purpose of Chapter 99, HTSUSA, is to afford temporary reduction in the rates of duty applicable. Subchapter II, U.S. Note 12 (a), to Chapter 99, HTSUSA, states:

12. (a) For the purposes of subheading 9902.62.01--

(1) The terms "sports clothing" refers to:

(A) ice hockey pants, provided for in subheadings 6113.00, 6114.30, 6210.40, 6210.50, 6211.33 or 6211.43

In classifying the garment in the HTSUSA heading, we determined that these were pants worn by an official during hockey games and were considered special clothing for "certain sports". Subheading 9902.62.01 provides for sports clothing, however provided for in Chapters 61 and 62. In the absence of clear legislative intent limiting this heading to garments solely worn by the players, subheading 9902.62.01, HTSUSA, would apply to this garment.

Subchapter II, U.S. Note 12 continues to state:

(b) The column 1-general rate of duty for articles entered under heading 9902.62.01 is a rate equal to the column 1 rate of duty that would have applied to such goods under the Tariff Schedules of the United States Annotated (TSUSA) on December 31, 1988.

On December 31, 1988, under the Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS), pants similar to these would have been classified in item 381.88, TSUS, the provision for other men's or boys' wearing apparel, not ornamented: of man-made fibers: trousers and slacks, dutiable at the rate of 30 percent ad valorem.


The neck protector is classified under subheading 9506.99.2580, HTSUSA, which provides for ice-hockey and field hockey articles and equipment, except balls and skates, and parts and accessories thereof, other, including parts and accessories. This provision carries a free rate of duty.

The ice hockey pants are classifiable under subheading 6114.30.3060, HTSUSA, which provides for other garments, knitted or crocheted, of man-made fibers: other: other men's or boys'. The applicable rate of duty for this merchandise has been temporarily increased by subheading 9902.62.01 to 30 percent ad valorem, and the textile category is 659.

The designated textile and apparel category may be subdivided into parts. If so, visa and quota requirements applicable to the subject merchandise may be affected. Since part categories are the result of international bilateral agreements which are subject to frequent negotiations and changes, we suggest that your client check, close to the time of shipment, the Status Report on Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), an issuance of the U.S. Customs Service, which is updated weekly and is available at the local Customs office.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the restraint (quota/visa) categories, your client should contact the local Customs office prior to importing the merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durant, Director