CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 961080 RH
Mr. Paul M. Lichstein
Ms. Melodie Wong
Beijing Trade Exchange, Inc.
701 E Street, SE.
Washington, DC 20003
RE: Classification of sleeve protectors; heading 6217; accessory
Dear Mr. Lichstein and Ms. Wong:
This is in reply to Mr. Lichstein’s two letters dated October 8, 1997, and Ms. Wong’s letter of October 15, 1997, requesting a classification ruling on sleeve protectors.
We received samples of the merchandise to aid us in our determination, and they are being returned to you, as requested, under separate cover.
Three sleeve protectors are at issue in this case. Style A06576BX is made of a woven nylon base coated with polyurethane on one side. The polyurethane completely obscures the underlying material. The sleeve protectors cover the area from the wrist to the elbow. They have a single seam on one side and elastic at both ends. The sleeve protectors are worn to protect factory workers and food processors from animal fats and chemicals.
Style A2833BX is made of woven cotton coated with neoprene on both sides. Factory workers and food processors also wear this article to protect against animal fat and chemicals.
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The articles described in Ms. Wong’s letter are disposable sleeve protectors. They are twenty-one inches long and are made of 100 percent spunbonded and meltblown polypropylene nonwoven material (SMS). The disposable sleeve protectors have elasticized openings at the wrist and arm. They are used in the medical and industrial market by workers in laboratories and factories to protect their “arms” from chemicals and dirt.
What is the tariff classification of the subject sleeve protectors under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA)?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
The classification of goods under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI’s), taken in order. GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI’s may be applied, taken in order. Additionally, the Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (EN), although not legally binding, are the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level.
Heading 6217, HTSUSA, provides for “Other made up clothing accessories; parts of garments or of clothing accessories, other than those of heading 6212.” The EN to heading 6217 list “sleeve protectors” among the merchandise classifiable within that heading.
The term "accessory" is not defined in the tariff schedule or Explanatory Notes. Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, (1977), defines "accessory" as a thing of secondary or subordinate importance or an object or device not essential in itself but adding to the beauty, convenience, or effectiveness of something else. Moreover, in Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 080498, dated December 28, 1989, Customs held that other made up clothing accessories can cover a wide variety of articles, including those which may be functional as opposed to purely decorative.
In HQ 959672, dated September 20, 1996, Customs classified elasticized sleeves worn to protect clothing from the wrist to the elbow under heading 6217, HTSUSA, as accessories to a bib apron. See also, HQ 961737, dated December 8, 1998 (Sleeve protectors used by welders to protect both their clothes and bodies from flames during welding were classified in heading 6217, as accessories to an apron).
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We also note that Ms. Wong received a ruling from Customs (PD B89009) on September 16, 1997, concerning similar, if not identical, merchandise described as sleeve protectors “made from spunbonded polyproplyene material, coated on the inside surface, and . . . intended for use by ‘workers in laboratories and food processing plants’.” The sleeve protectors in that ruling were also classified under heading 6217, as clothing accessories.
In this case, the sleeve protectors add to the effectiveness of a garment and are purely functional articles designed to be worn over the long sleeve of a shirt to protect it, or to be worn in lieu of the sleeve when worn with a short sleeve shirt to protect the arms. Accordingly, they are classifiable as clothing accessories in heading 6217, HTSUSA.
Finally, we note that style A2833BX is made of a cotton fabric which is coated on both sides with neoprene. Pursuant to Note 1, Chapter 40, HTSUSA, the expression “rubber” includes products of neoprene, which is a synthetic rubber. Note 1(ij) to Section XI, HTSUSA, provides that any textile fabric impregnated, coated, covered or laminated with rubber, and classifiable in Chapter 40, HTSUSA, is excluded from Section XI. Likewise, Chapter Note 2(a) to Chapter 40, HTSUSA, provides that any material classifiable as a textile of Section XI, HTSUSA, is excluded from those provisions. The intent is to classify those combinations which are rubber in nature in Chapter 40, and those which are textile in nature in Section XI, HTSUSA.
Furthermore, the General EN to Chapter 40 describes, in pertinent part, the coverage of the Chapter as including:
(c) Textile fabrics (as defined in Note 1 to Chapter 59) impregnated, coated, covered or laminated with rubber, weighing more than 1,500 g/m² and containing 50% or less by weight of textile material.
Note 4, Chapter 59, HTSUSA, reads, in pertinent part:
For the purposes of heading 5906, the expression “rubberized textile fabrics” means:
(a) Textile fabrics impregnated, coated, covered or laminated with rubber:
(i) Weighing not more than 1,500 g/m²; or
(ii) Weighing more than 1,500 g/m² and containing more than 50 percent by weight of textile material.
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Accordingly, if the fabric of style A2833BX is determined to weigh more than 1,500 grams per square meter and contain 50 percent or less by weight of textile material, it will be classifiable in heading 4016, HTSUSA, as other articles of vulcanized rubber other than hard rubber. If the fabric is determined to weigh not more than 1,500 grams per square meter, or if it weighs more than 1500 grams per square meter and contains more than 50 percent by weight of textile material, it will be classifiable in heading 6217, HTSUSA.
The sleeve protector styles A06576BX and SMS disposable sleeves are classifiable under subheading 6217.10.9530, HTSUSA, which provides for “Other made up clothing accessories; parts of garments or of clothing accessories, other than those of heading 6212: Accessories: Other: Of man-made fibers.” They are dutiable at the general column one rate at 15 percent ad valorem and the textile category is 659.
If the fabric of style A2833BX is determined to weigh not more than 1,500 grams per square meter, or if it weighs more than 1500 grams per square meter and contains more than 50 percent by weight of textile material, it will also be classifiable in heading 6217.10.9530, HTSUSA.
If the fabric of Style A2833BX is determined to weigh more than 1,500 grams per square meter and contain 50 percent or less by weight of textile material, it will be classifiable in
subheading 4016.99.6050, HTSUSA, which provides for “Other articles of vulcanized rubber other than of hard rubber: Other: Other: Other: Other: Other.” Articles classifiable under that tariff provision are dutiable at the general column one rate at 2.5 percent ad valorem.
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 the subject of frequent negotiations and changes, to obtain the most current information available, we suggest that you 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, you 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
Commercial Rulings Division