CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 963488 jb
Ms. Joanna Cheung
Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office
1520 18th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036
RE: Classification of nursing pads
Dear Ms. Cheung:
This is in response to a letter, dated November 5, 1999, from Ms. Fiona Chau, on behalf of Gerber Products Company, regarding the classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) of nursing pads. A sample was submitted to this office for review.
The submitted sample consists of a nursing pad which is round in shape and measures approximately 4 inches in diameter. The composition of the nursing pad is as follows: the front consists of a nonwoven 100 percent polypropylene fabric, the back consists of a woven 100 percent cotton fabric and the center is filled with wadding. All three layers are sewn together with overlock stitching.
You state that the importer attempted entry for this merchandise with a category 669 (non-apparel) visa and was denied by Customs in Chicago which required a 659 (clothing accessory) visa for this merchandise. You ask that this office review the classification of this merchandise and find that the proper classification for this merchandise is as a non-apparel item.
What is the proper classification for the subject merchandise?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is in accordance with 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. Where goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, the remaining GRI will be applied, in the order of their appearance.
First, we would like to emphasize that classification of merchandise in the HTSUS is based on the terms of the headings and not on a comparison of statistical suffixes and textile quota categories. Accordingly, any comparison that is executed is between the competing headings, based on the terms of the headings and any applicable section or chapter notes.
Customs, in requesting a 659 visa for this merchandise, believes the subject merchandise to be a clothing accessory of heading 6217, HTSUS. You however, appear to believe that this merchandise is best described as an article of wadding, classified in heading 5601, HTSUS, with corresponding quota category 669. We note that similar merchandise has been the subject of past Customs rulings which have held that the merchandise is classified in heading 6307, HTSUS, which provides for other made up textile articles. This office is currently in the process of reviewing those rulings.
Heading 6217, HTSUS, provides for, other made up clothing accessories; parts of garments or of clothing accessories, other than those of heading 6212. It has been Customs position that clothing accessories bear some relation to clothing, are intended for use with clothing and are of secondary importance to clothing. Additionally, accessories have been viewed by Customs as articles of secondary or subordinate importance or items not in themselves essential, but adding to the beauty, convenience or effectiveness of something else. The Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (EN) to heading 6217, HTSUS, state, in part, that the heading covers inter alia:
(1) Dress shields, usually of rubberised fabric or of rubber covered with textile material. Dress shields wholly of plastics or of rubber are excluded (headings 39.26 and 40.15 respectively).
(2) Shoulder or other pads. They are usually made of wadding, felt, or textile waste covered with textile fabric. Shoulder and other pads consisting of rubber (usually cellular rubber) not covered with textile material are excluded (heading 40.15).
Heading 5601, HTSUS, provides for, among other things, articles of wadding. The EN to this heading state, in part, that this heading also covers wadding in the piece or cut to length, and articles of wadding other than those covered more specifically by other headings of the Nomenclature. Among the articles of wadding listed as not being classified under this heading are clothing pads of heading 6117 or 6217.
In the case of the subject merchandise, heading 6217 and heading 5601,
HTSUS, both appear to describe the subject merchandise. As such, we turn to GRI 3 for guidance, which states:
When, by application of rule 2(b) or for any other reason, goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings, classification shall be effected as follows:
(a) The heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description. However, when two or more headings each refer to part only of the materials or substances contained in mixed or composite goods or to part only of the items in a set put up for retail sale, those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to those goods, even if one of them gives a more complete or precise description of the goods.
(b) Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale, which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.
(c) When goods cannot be classified by reference to 3(a) or 3(b), they shall be classified under the heading which occurs last in numerical order among those which equally merit consideration
Based on GRI 3(a), and a review of this merchandise, it is our view that the subject merchandise is more specifically described as an other madeup clothing accessory and not an article of wadding; the latter which is descriptive of almost anything which might include wadding. We find further support for classification of this merchandise as clothing accessories in the EN to both heading 6217 and 5601, HTSUS. The submitted nursing pads are akin to the dress shields and other “pads” enumerated in the EN to heading 6217. Similar to the dress shields, the nursing pads at issue provide protection against moisture (leakage) and personal comfort. Additionally, as explicitly stated in the EN to heading 5601, HTSUS, clothing pads are precluded from classification in that heading. We see no difference between the nursing pads at issue, which are used in conjunction with women’s clothing, and the “clothing pads” excluded from heading 5601, HTSUS. Furthermore, the classification of nursing pads as accessories to garments of heading 6217, is consistent with Customs position that these articles, although not in themselves essential, add to the beauty, convenience or effectiveness of the primary garments with which they will be worn.
However, as the nursing pads are composed of different fabrics, we must turn to GRI 3 for a proper classification determination at the subheading level.
The subject nursing pads are composed of a nonwoven polypropylene
fabric, cotton fabric and wadding. As no one heading accurately describes the subject merchandise, that is, only referring in part to the composition of the nursing pads, a determination cannot be made pursuant to GRI 3(a). Similarly, a determination cannot readily be made pursuant to a GRI 3(b), essential character. All three fabrics contribute equally to the efficacy of these articles. The cotton fabric, the side of the pad which will face the wearer’s skin, is necessary for purposes of comfort, to ensure that an already sensitive area will not be further abraded. The wadding is also important for reasons of moisture absorption. Finally, the role of the nonwoven polypropylene backing, which will face the garment, is also important in terms of providing an additional barrier between the moisture absorbed by the wadding and the garment. As such, the classification of this merchandise is pursuant to GRI 3(c), the heading which occurs last in numerical order. Accordingly, the nursing pads are classifiable as either “of cotton” or “of man-made fibers” depending upon the fabric which determines the classification. As the subheading for “of man-made fibers” appears after that of “of cotton” in the tariff, the nursing pads are classified in subheading 6217.10.9530, HTSUSA.
For purposes of clarification, we note that we are precluded from classifying the subject merchandise in heading 6307, HTSUS, a basket provision for textile articles which are not elsewhere more specifically provided for under the tariff, because heading 6217, HTSUS, specifically describes the subject merchandise.
The subject nursing pads are classified in 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: other: other: of man-made fibers. The applicable general column one rate of duty is 15 percent ad valorem and the quota 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 renegotiations and changes, to obtain the most current information available, we suggest the consignee check, close to the time of shipment, the Status 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, the consignee should contact the local Customs office prior to importing the merchandise to determine the current applicability of any import restraints or requirements.
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division