OT:RR:CTF:CPMM H290312 CKG
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Port of Jacksonville
10426 Alta Drive
Jacksonville, FL 32226
Attn: Jessica Alfred/Team 008
Re: Application for Further Review of Protest Number 1803-15-100031; tariff classification of plastic flooring mat
Dear Port Director,
This is in reply to the Application for Further Review (AFR) of Protest No. 1803-15-100031, dated September 2, 2015, on behalf of BJ’s Wholesale Club, Inc. (“Protestant”), contesting U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) classification and liquidation of one entry of plastic floor mats in heading 3918, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), as floor coverings of plastics.
The subject merchandise was entered on May 23, 2014, in heading 3918, HTSUS, which provides for, in relevant part, “Floor coverings of plastics, whether or not self-adhesive, in rolls or in the form of tiles.” The entry was liquidated on April 3, 2015, as entered. Protestant now claims classification in heading 3924, HTSUS, which provides for, inter alia, other household articles of plastics.
The subject foam mats, model # BS144TM, are constructed from Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate (EVA) foam and measure 46 inches wide by 93 inches long (approximately 30 square feet). They are sold under the brand name “Best Step”. The mats are black and have a diamond-patterned, textured surface. They are placed over existing flooring for additional cushioning and support while performing standing tasks, exercise, or to protect existing flooring from scratches and dings. The mats are infused with antimicrobial agents to impede the growth of mildew, bacteria and mold. They are sold in the rugs and flooring section of the Protestant’s website.
Whether the plastic foam mats are classified in heading 3918, HTSUS, as “[f]loor coverings … of plastics” or heading 3924, HTSUS, as “other household articles … of plastics.”
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Initially, we note that the matter is protestable under 19 U.S.C. § 1514(a)(2) as a decision on classification. The protest was timely filed, within 180 days of liquidation for entries made on or after December 18, 2004. See Miscellaneous Trade and Technical Corrections Act of 2004, Pub. L. 108-429, § 2103(2)(B)(ii), (iii) (codified as amended at 19 U.S.C. § 1514(c)(3)(2006)). Further review of Protest Number 1803-2015-100031 is properly accorded pursuant to 19 C.F.R. § 174.24(b) because the decision against which the protest was filed is alleged to involve a question of law or fact that has not previously been ruled upon by CBP or the courts.
The classification of goods under the HTSUS is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). 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 GRIs 2 through 6 may then be applied in order. In this case, the 2015 HTSUS headings under consideration are as follows:
3918 Floor coverings of plastics, whether or not self-adhesive, in rolls or in the form of tiles; wall or ceiling coverings of plastics, as defined in note 9 to this chapter
3924 Tableware, kitchenware, other household articles and hygienic or toilet articles, of plastics
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The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System (HS) at the international level. While not legally binding, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HS and are thus useful in ascertaining the proper classification of merchandise. See T.D. 89-90, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).
The ENs to heading 3918 state, in relevant part, as follows: “The first part of the heading covers plastics of the types normally used as floor coverings, in rolls or in the form of tiles. It should be noted that self-adhesive floor coverings are classified in this heading.”
The ENs to Heading 3924, specifically EN (C), define the scope of “other households articles” by listing the following exemplars: “ash trays, hot water bottles, matchbox holders, dustbins, buckets, watering cans, food storage containers, curtains, drapes, table covers and fitted furniture dust-covers (slipovers).”
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The two headings under consideration in this case are heading 3918, HTSUS, which provides for floor coverings of plastic, and heading 3924, HTSUS, which provides for household articles of plastic. Protestant argues that heading 3918 does not apply to the instant merchandise because the instant mats are not intended to serve as a permanent floor and are not as resilient as floor coverings of heading 3918, HTSUS. We disagree. These arguments have been addressed by CBP in the context of substantially similar merchandise—specifically, interlocking EVA foam tile floor mats also imported by BJ’s Wholesale Club and marketed under the name “Best Step”—in Headquarters Ruling Letter (“HQ”) H270254, dated June 9, 2016.
HQ H270254 similarly involved the classification of plastic foam mats, marketed and used as a covering for existing flooring, to provide extra protection for the flooring itself, or additional comfort, safety and support when standing, exercising, playing, etc. The Protestant, also BJ’s Wholesale Club, advanced the same argument in HQ H270254; i.e., that heading 3918 only covers products more durable, permanent and resilient than the foam mats at issue. CBP concluded in HQ H270254 that defining “floor coverings” to exclude plastic mats used as floor coverings would be inconsistent with CBP’s past rulings and unwarranted by the plain language of heading 3918, HTSUS, and that the floor mats at issue therein were therefore properly classified in heading 3918, HTSUS, on the basis of GRI 3(a). We agree, and hereby incorporate the analysis and conclusion of HQ H270254. We therefore affirm CBP’s longstanding position that floor coverings of plastic for use in the home such as carpets, rugs, mats, or tiles are classified under heading 3918, HTSUS, if imported in rolls or in the form of tiles, whether or not they are designed for permanent fastening or adhesion to the existing floor. Similar floor coverings in any form other than rolls or tiles are classified in heading 3924, HTSUS.
By application of GRIs 1, 3(a) and 6, the Best Step foam mats are classified under heading 3918, HTSUS, specifically subheading 3918.90.1000, HTSUS, which provides, in pertinent part, for: “Floor coverings of plastics, whether or not self-adhesive, in rolls or in the form of tiles …: Of other plastics: Floor coverings.” The 2015 column one, general rate of duty is 5.3% ad valorem.
You are instructed to DENY the protest. In accordance with Sections IV and VI of the CBP Protest/Petition Processing Handbook (HB 3500-08A, December 2007, pp. 24 and 26), you are to mail this decision, together with the CBP Form 19, to the protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry or entries in accordance with the decision must be accomplished prior to mailing the decision.
Sixty days from the date of the decision, the Office of International Trade, Regulations and Rulings, will make the decision available to CBP personnel, and to the public on the CBP Home Page on the World Wide Web at www.cbp.gov, by means of the Freedom of Information Act, and other methods of public distribution.
Myles B. Harmon, Director
Commercial and Trade Facilitation Division