CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 964430 mbg
Susan T. Mitchell
Acting Area Director
JFK International Airport
Jamaica, NY 11430
RE: Classification of Women’s Hybrid Knit Cardigan; Internal Advice 6/00
Dear Ms. Mitchell:
On August 17, 2000, the Office of Regulations & Rulings received a request for Internal Advice concerning the tariff classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (“HTSUSA”) of a women’s knit upper body garment. The garment was originally entered by the importer as a jacket under heading 6102, HTSUS by a notice of action dated Jan. 5, 2000. Customs informed the importer of record that the subject garment was properly classified in subheading 6110.20.2075, HTSUSA. The importer through counsel then requested the port seek Internal Advice and you submitted the matter to the Office of Regulations & Rulings to determine whether the subject merchandise is properly classified as a women’s jacket or cardigan.
The merchandise submitted, style number S1EZ304, is a women’s knitted garment with a full-front, zippered opening; long sleeves; an attached hood with a functional drawstring and two patch pockets sewn below the waist on the front of the garment. The sleeve ends and the bottom of the garment are hemmed and sewn closed with overlock stitching. The garment extends from the wearer’s neck and shoulders to the top of her hips. The garment is suitable for wear over outerwear such as a t-shirt or a blouse and may be worn either indoors or outdoors. The lightweight fabric of the garment has more than nine stitches per two centimeters, measured in the direction in which the stitches are formed. This fabric is not napped on either side.
This office has received conflicting information on the exact fiber content of the garment as well as on the country of origin of the merchandise. According to the marking label on the subject merchandise, the garment’s fiber content is 95 percent cotton and 5 percent spandex. However, the submission from the attorney of record states that the garment’s fiber content is 87 percent cotton, 8 percent polyester and 5 percent spandex. Furthermore, the garment’s marking label states that the country of origin is the United Arab Emirates; yet the C.I.E. Form 6, dated January 21, 2000, which was submitted as part of the Internal Advice referral, and which was completed at J.F.K. International Airport, lists the country of origin as Pakistan.
What is the proper classification of the subject merchandise?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Classification of goods under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (“GRIs”). GRI 1 provides that classification 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 Explanatory Notes (“EN”) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, which represent the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, facilitate classification under the HTSUSA by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and GRI.
The issue in the instant case is whether the submitted sample is properly classifiable as a women's cardigan or jacket. There are two possible tariff classifications for the subject garment, heading 6102, HTSUS, which provides for, among other things, women’s knit jackets, and heading 6110, HTSUS, which provides for, among other things, women’s knit sweaters and similar garments. Garments classified as similar to sweaters of heading 6110, HTSUS, may serve a dual purpose in that they may be worn either indoors or outdoors. The sole purpose of jackets on the other hand, is to provide the wearer protection against the elements over other outerwear, and thus they are worn principally outdoors. The determinative issue, therefore, is the manner in which this garment is intended to be worn.
In circumstances such as these, where the identity of a garment is ambiguous for classification purposes, reference to The Guidelines for the Reporting of Imported Products in Various Textile and Apparel Categories, CIE 13/88, (“Guidelines”) is appropriate. The Guidelines were developed and revised in accordance with the HTSUSA to ensure uniformity, to facilitate statistical classification, and to assist in the determination of the appropriate textile categories established for the administration of the Arrangement Regarding International Trade in Textiles.
The Guidelines state that garments possessing at least three of the cited jacket features will be classified as jackets if the result is not unreasonable:
Shirt-jackets have full or partial front openings and sleeves, and at the least cover the upper body from the neck area to the waist... The following criteria may be used in determining whether a shirt-jacket is designed for use over another garment, the presence of which is sufficient for its wearer to be considered modestly and conventionally dressed for appearance in public, either indoors or outdoors or both:
Shirt-jackets have full or partial front openings and sleeves, and at the least cover the upper body from the neck area to the waist . . . . The following criteria may be used in determining whether a shirt-jacket is designed for use over another garment, the presence of which is sufficient for its wearer to be considered modestly and conventionally dressed for appearance in public, either indoors or outdoors or both:
(1) Fabric weight equal to or exceeding 10 ounces per square
yard . . . .
(2) A full or partial lining.
(3) Pockets at or below the waist.
(4) Back vents or pleats. Also side vents in combination with back
(5) Eisenhower styling.
(6) A belt or simulated belt or elasticized waist on hip length or
(7) Large jacket/coat style buttons, toggles or snaps, a heavy-duty
zipper or other heavy-duty closure, or buttons fastened with
reinforcing thread for heavy-duty use.
(9) Long sleeves without cuffs.
(10) Elasticized or rib knit cuffs.
(11) Drawstring, elastic or rib knit waistband.
See Guidelines for the Reporting of Imported Products in Various Textile and Apparel Categories, CIE13/88 at 5-6 (Nov. 23, 1988).
The counsel for the importer submits that the subject merchandise is properly classified as a jacket in heading 6102, HTSUS, and cites the Guidelines in support of this claim. Specifically, the importer’s counsel states that the subject merchandise has four Guidelines features i.e., pockets below the waist, fabric over 10 ounces per square yard, heavy duty zipper, and long sleeves without cuffs.
Upon review of the subject merchandise and upon application of the Guidelines, it is the determination of this office that the women’s knit garment does not possess the requisite number of Guidelines criteria to meet the standards of a jacket. The garment does have pockets below the waist yet, testing by U.S. Customs reveals the fabric weight to be of 9.35 ounces per square yard and thus below the Guidelines standard. The garment’s zipper is not considered “heavy” nor is there a tightening at the bottom of the cuffs or bottom of the jacket.
Furthermore, the Explanatory Notes (EN) to heading 6101, which apply mutatis mutandis to the articles of heading 6102, HTSUSA, state:
[T]his heading covers ... [garments for women or girls’], characterised by the fact that that they are generally worn over all other clothing for protection against the weather.
Though it is feasible that the subject merchandise might be worn over a light weight shirt, it would not be worn over all other clothing for protection against the weather. Although we recognize the fabric weight, which is not “napped” in the present case, is not an absolute indicator of the garment’s status for classification purposes, it does provide some indication as to the garment’s suitability for different uses. In this case, the lightweight fabric construction of the subject garment would not likely provide sufficient protection from the elements to the wearer when worn outside on cold days. Additionally features such as pockets at the waist, and a hood, are not substantive proof that a garment is designed for use as outerwear. In fact, today these features are commonly found on a variety of upper body garments as part of a new fashion trend.
This office notes the lack of any tightening at the bottom of the subject merchandise and also the lack of a ribbed knit waistband. These features are often incorporated into many knit outer wear jackets as a way of keeping the bottom of the jacket close to the wearer’s body, and therefore keeping cold air from entering through the bottom of the garment. Although the presence of either one of these features should not be taken to be conclusive proof that a garment is designed for use as an “outerwear jacket, ” when combined with other significant features, it does lend support to classification as a jacket of heading 6102, HTSUS. (See also, HQ 962593, dated December 2, 1999, where similar merchandise was classified in heading 6110 as a cardigan; HQ 957238, dated February 27, 1995, where in the absence of any “tightening at the bottom hem or wrist,” the merchandise was found to lack “several of the features normally associated with jackets.”)
It is the opinion of this office that the submitted sample is worn and used much like a sweater and has similar characteristics of a sweater, except for the stitch count. The garment is knit and worn in the same manner as a sweater, i.e., over a shirt, indoors. Its appearance does not indicate use as a jacket, or windbreaker, to be worn outdoors on a day on which it is too cold and windy to wear a sweater or cardigan. Accordingly, we find that the classification of the subject merchandise was improperly entered by the importer due to the lack of Guidelines features and also due to the lightweight fabric construction and overall features of the garment. As such, the subject merchandise is properly classified as a cardigan of heading 6110, HTSUS.
The subject merchandise is properly classified under subheading 6110.20.2075, HTSUSA, which provides for "Sweaters, pullovers, sweatshirts, waistcoats (vests) and similar articles, knitted or crocheted: Of cotton: Other: Other: Other: Women’s or girls’.” The general column one rate of duty is 18.2 percent ad valorem. The applicable textile restraint category is 339.
You are to mail this decision to the internal advice applicant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. On that date, the Office of Regulations and Rulings will make the decision available to Customs personnel, and to the public on the Customs Home page on the World Wide Web at www.customs.gov, by means of the Freedom of Information Act, and other methods of public distribution.
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division