CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 084172 HP 838458

Mr. John M. Peterson
Neville, Peterson & Williams
39 Broadway
New York, NY 10006

RE: Classification of Flooring Sections and Building Components

Dear Mr. Peterson:

This is in reply to your letter of March 17, 1989, concerning the tariff classification of certain flooring sections and building components, produced in Italy, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). Your reference file is 1605-01.


The merchandise at issue consists of floor and wall tiles, measuring twelve inches square by 1/2 inch thick, and building components, of the same thickness but measuring eleven feet high by four feet wide. The flooring sections and the building components are manufactured principally from small chips or bits of marble and stone, agglomerated with plastic resin, cast into form, polished, laminated, and cut. Each section is composed of approximately 5 percent by weight of plastic resins and 95 percent by weight of marble or stone chips. You state that the plastic resin accounts for approximately 65 percent of the cost of the materials contained in the merchandise.


What is the classification of the flooring sections and the building components under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA)?


Heading 6802, HTSUSA, provides for natural monumental or building stone (except slate) which has been worked beyond the stage of normal quarry products. For the purposes of Chapter 68, HTSUSA, however, if an artificial binding is added to natural marble, the marble is no longer considered to be natural but is considered artificial stone. The Explanatory Notes to the HTSUSA constitute the official interpretation of the tariff schedule at the international level. Explanatory Note 68.02 states, in pertinent part:

[a]rticles such as slabs, tiles, etc., obtained by agglomerating pieces of natural stone with cement or other binders (e.g., plastics), ... are classified as artificial stone articles in heading 68.10.

Heading 6810, HTSUSA, covers moulded, pressed or centrifuged articles of cement, concrete, or artificial stone. Explanatory Note 68.10 defines artificial stone as

... an imitation of natural stone obtained by agglomerating pieces of natural stone or crushed or powdered natural stone (limestone, marble, granite, porphyry, serpentine, etc.) with lime or cement or other binders (e.g., plastics). [emphasis added]

You assert that the plastics in the merchandise are not mere binders, but represent the essential character of the products. This contention is incorrect. The Explanatory Notes clearly indicate that stone agglomerated (clustered together) with plastics is to be classified, not as worked natural stone in Heading 6802, nor as plastics in Chapter 39, but as artificial stone in Heading 6810, HTSUSA. Whether the pieces of stone are chips or larger pieces, agglomeration clearly requires classification as artificial stone. Even if you had not requested a ruling on articles "agglomerated with plastice [sic] resin" (Request for Binding Ruling, p.2), merchandise of five percent plastic resin and 95 percent marble or stone by weight is by definition of artificial stone.

Under Schedule 4, Part 4, subpart A, headnote 2 of the Tariff Schedule of the Unites States (TSUS), marble agglomerated with plastic resin was classified as a plastics product. In that note, the term "synthetic plastics materials" was interpreted as embracing "products formed by the condensation, polymerization, or copolymerization of organic chemicals and to which a[] ... filler ... may have been added." Since marble is a type of "filler" material, agglomerated marble was considered to be a synthetic plastics material. This argument is irrelevant. The TSUS definition of plastics is no longer applicable, and has no effect on the classification of the merchandise at issue.


The flooring sections are classified under subheading 6810.19.1000, HTSUSA, as articles of cement, of concrete or of artificial stone, whether or not reinforced, tiles, flagstones, bricks and similar articles, other, floor and wall tiles. The applicable rate of duty is 21 percent ad valorem. While neither the HTSUSA nor its accompanying Explanatory Notes put any limitation on the size of tiles (besides width in Additional U.S. Note 2 to Chapter 68, HTSUSA), the description for the building components provided is substantially similar to the definition of "slabs," in Additional U.S. Note 1 to Chapter 68, heading 6802. It is our opinion that the building components in the instant matter are ejusdem generis to building slabs of Heading 6802, and, although similar to, are not classifiable as, tiles. The building components are therefore classified under subheading 6810.19.5000, HTSUSA, as articles of cement, of concrete or of artificial stone, whether or not reinforced, tiles, flagstones, bricks and similar articles, other, other. The applicable rate of duty is 4.9 percent ad valorem.

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 your 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