CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 963734 JFS
Mr. Jorge O. Larrauri
9425 Fontainbleau Blvd.
Miami, Florida 33172
RE: Request for Binding Ruling; Classification of Arm Covers; Clothing Accessories.
Dear Mr. Larrauri:
This letter is in reply to your request for a binding ruling received by the U.S. Customs Service on November 16, 1999, on the classification of arm covers. Prior to the issuance of this ruling, samples of the merchandise and all submissions were considered. A meeting was not requested.
The items that are the subject of this ruling are 100% knitted cotton cone-shaped tubular sleeves. The sleeves are intended to be worn with any short sleeved shirt. They cover the arm from the biceps to the wrist. The upper end secures to the arm by means of a cotton-covered elastic band that closes around the biceps. The upper end fits under the sleeve of the short sleeved shirt so that it is not visible. There is a double knitted elastic cotton/polyester blend cuff ribbing sewed to the lower end of the arm cover that holds it securely to the wrist. The arm covers are to be imported from the Dominican Republic.
The arm covers are marketed as lightweight, loose, cool and absorbent sleeves made to protect the skin from harmful ultra violet (UV) rays. They are described as: Easy to wear and easy to take off; loose enough to allow unrestricted arm movement; and allowing aeration and sweat absorption for comfort while protecting the skin from harmful UV rays.
In response to questions by Customs, the importer provided the following information. The arm warmers have no special properties to provide UV protection. They provide as much UV protection, 82%, as any cotton fabric. They are not designed to promote wicking of sweat, other than the natural absorption of sweat by the cotton fiber content in the material and subsequent evaporation. They are intended to be loose enough to provide aeration. They are designed for the outdoor sportsman, especially golfers. They are “made to be used with any short-sleeve or normal shirt and can be removed at anytime without removing the short sleeved garment.”
Should the arm covers be classified under heading 6117, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), as clothing accessories, or under heading 6307, HTSUSA, as other made up textile articles?
Classification under the HTSUSA is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 provides that the classification of goods shall be determined according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule 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 may then be applied.
The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, Explanatory Notes (EN), represent the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level (for the 4 digit headings and the 6 digit subheadings) and facilitate classification under the HTSUSA by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and GRI. The EN, although not dispositive or legally binding, provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS, and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).
One of the two possible headings in which the arm covers can be classified is 6117, HTSUSA, providing, in pertinent part, for other made-up clothing accessories. However, there are no Legal Notes to either Chapter 61 or Section XI, HTSUSA, which expressly provide for the classification of arm covers. Moreover, the term "accessory" is not defined in the tariff schedule or EN. 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. In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 088540, dated June 3, 1991, Customs defined an accessory as an article that is related to the primary article, and intended for use solely or principally as an accessory. In heading 6117, HTSUSA, the primary article is clothing, and the accessories classifiable under this provision will be related to clothing, intended for use with clothing and of secondary importance to clothing. HQ 950470, dated January 7, 1992.
The alternative heading, 6307, HTSUSA, provides for other made up textile articles. This is not a true alternative in that heading 6307 is a "basket" provision intended to classify merchandise not provided for more specifically in other headings of the tariff.
The EN to 6117, HTSUSA, and 6307, HTSUSA, both provide examples of articles that have similar characteristics as the arm covers under consideration. EN (6) to heading 6117, HTSUSA, lists sleeve protectors as being covered by the heading. Sleeve protectors are similar to arm covers in that they both also provide protection for the arms. See HQ 961080, dated September 14, 1999 (ruling that polyurethane coated sleeve protectors that protect workers from animal fats and chemicals are clothing accessories); see also, HQ 961108 dated September 2, 1999; and HQ 961737, dated December 8, 1998.
Arm covers are similar in function to kneebands that are provided for in EN (7) to heading 6117, HTSUSA. The EN to heading 6307, HTSUSA, also covers kneebands. It provides for:
Support articles of the kind referred to in Note 1(b) to Chapter 90 for joints (e.g., knees, ankles, elbows or wrists) or muscles (e.g., thigh muscles), other than those falling in other headings of Section XI.
Kneebands and articles similar in function to kneebands, i.e., articles which provide warmth and support, that are classifiable in 6307, HTSUSA, will be classified in 6117, HTSUSA, if they are also clothing accessories. HQ 950659, dated January 21, 1992. Accordingly, we must first determine whether classification is proper under heading 6117, HTSUSA, as clothing accessories. If not, we will address whether classification is proper under heading 6307, HTSUSA.
The function of the arm cover is of primary importance when determining whether to classify it as a clothing accessory under 6117, HTSUSA. If the arm cover has a function completely divorced from any use with clothing and does not add to the beauty, convenience, or effectiveness, of clothing, it will not be considered a clothing accessory. HQ 952005, dated August 26, 1992.
In HQ 950659, Customs considered whether to classify arm covers that are similar to those now under consideration as clothing accessories. In that ruling, Customs revoked HQ 086378, dated April 9, 1990, that had classified arm covers as clothing accessories under heading 6117, HTSUSA. Customs reclassified the arm covers under the basket provision of 6307, HTSUSA. The arm covers were described as:
[T]ubular shaped items made of 43% angora, 18% lambswool, 26% polyamid and 13% elasthan which forms a fabric of a weft knit construction. They are specially designed to fit certain body parts, i.e., wrists, elbows, knees and backs. The articles are intended for use by people afflicted with arthritis or rheumatism. The primary purpose of these articles appears to be the maintenance of localized warmth, which in turn would provide greater comfort to the wearer. The wool and angora components also act to absorb perspiration and the elasticity of the items may in some cases provide support.
In making its decision to rescind its prior ruling, Customs considered whether the arm covers had a logical nexus with clothing. That is, did they either add to the clothing’s (1) beauty, (2) convenience, or (3) effectiveness? Customs examined the function and use of the arm covers and concluded that the arm covers could not be considered clothing accessories because they did not satisfy any of the three requirements.
Applying these principles to the arm covers now under consideration, Customs concludes that they are properly classifiable as clothing accessories. The arm covers satisfy two out of three of the requirements for clothing accessories, i.e., adding to clothing's convenience and effectiveness. The arm covers enable the outdoor sportsman to conveniently and easily convert a short sleeved shirt into a long sleeved shirt thereby providing protection from UV radiation. The arm covers also eliminate the inconvenience of having to change shirts. This is especially relevant to female golfers. Thus the arm covers add to the convenience and effectiveness of a short sleeved shirt by converting it into a long sleeved shirt.
The arm covers now under consideration are distinguishable from the arm warmers that have been previously considered by Customs. See HQ 952005, dated August 26, 1992 (merino wool arm cover intended to be used for therapeutic purposes is not a clothing accessory); HQ 950470, dated January 7, 1992 (arm cover composed of neoprene rubber, and designed to retain heat for the treatment of arthritis and sporting injuries, is not a clothing accessory); HQ 954342, dated September 10, 1993 (wool arm covers designed to keep muscles and joints warm to reduce the discomfort associated with rheumatism and arthritis, are not clothing accessories). The arm covers in those rulings are distinguishable from those now under consideration, because they have no logical nexus with clothing. Instead they are wholly independent and separate from any items of clothing. Their function is to serve a therapeutic or medicinal purpose by fitting tightly over the arm thereby providing warmth and support. In contrast, the arm covers that are the subject of this ruling are not only clothing accessories, but they also have no medicinal or therapeutic purpose. They are loose fitting to allow for aeration and comfort, thereby providing no support and minimal if any warmth.
The arm covers are accessories to short sleeved shirts and are properly classifiable at GRI 1 under heading 6117, HTSUSA.
The proper subheading for the arm covers is 6184.108.40.206, HTSUSA, which provides for “Other made up clothing accessories, knitted or crocheted; knitted or crocheted parts of garments or of clothing accessories: Other accessories: Other: Other: Of Cotton.” The duty rate is 15% ad valorem, and the textile category is 359.
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 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.
A copy of this ruling letter should be attached to the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is entered. If the documents have been
filed without a copy, this ruling should be brought to the attention of the Customs officer handling the transaction. Sincerely,
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division