CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 961108 RH
Mr. J. Ruben Cota D.
Collectron of Arizona, Inc.
225 N. Freeport Drive
Nogales, AZ 85621
RE: Classification of sleeve protectors; heading 6217; accessory
Dear Mr. Cota:
This is in reply to your letter of November 4, 1997, on behalf of Mexicap, Inc., requesting a classification ruling on disposable Tyvek? sleeves.
You submitted a sample of the merchandise to aid us in our determination.
The articles at issue are disposable Tyvek? sleeve protectors produced in Mexico. They are made of spun-bonded olefin (fabric of high density polyethylene fibers which are bonded together with heat and pressure).
You state that the sleeve protectors are used by hospitals, laboratories, chemical companies, food and poultry processing companies, hazardous waste disposal companies as well as in office and clerical jobs to protect people from contaminated areas, hazardous materials, sterilized environments, and for protection of clothes from stains.
What is the tariff classification of the subject sleeve protectors under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA)?
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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).
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 and the wearer, 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, under the principles of GRI 1.
Finally, your claim that the sleeves are classifiable under heading 6307, HTSUSA, as other made up textile articles, under the principles of GRI 3(c) is without merit. Heading 6307 is a residual provision covering articles not more specifically provided for in another tariff provision. The other heading you cite, 6210, HTSUSA, is not applicable to this merchandise because it encompasses garments.
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The disposable Tyvek? 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.
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