CLA-2 RR:TC:TE 959955 RH
Lawrence R. Pilon, Esq.
Hodes & Pilon
33 North Dearborn Street, Suite 2204
Chicago, ILL 60602-3109
Re: Classification of laparotomy sponges; Section XI, Note 7;
heading 6307; heading 3005;
made up articles
Dear Mr. Pilon:
This is in reply to your letter of October 28, 1996, on behalf of
your client, International Medsurg Connection, Inc., requesting a
ruling on the tariff classification of laparotomy sponges.
You submitted a sample of a laparotomy sponge for our
Your client manufactures and imports medical and surgical
supplies for use by health care providers such as hospitals,
nursing homes, and medical clinics.
The laparotomy sponges your client intends to import are woven
from 100 percent Indian-origin cotton gauze fabric. Each sponge
consists of four fabric layers formed from one large piece of
folded woven fabric. The folded fabric is sewn around all edges
and down the middle in both directions. The sponges are imported
in sizes 18" x 18", 12" x 12", 8" x 36" and 4" x 18". A four-inch barium sulfate monofilament is sewn into each sponge to
facilitate X-ray detection. Some of the sponges have a seven-inch 100 percent cotton blue loop sewn into one corner, and a
metal ring is attached to the end of some loops. You did not
explain the function of the blue loop or metal ring.
Laparotomy sponges of equal size and style will be imported
banded together in groups of five in a paper band. Some of the
banded together groups will be "CSR" wrapped. They will be
imported into the United States in a carton containing 600
sponges and sold directly to U.S. medical and surgical suppliers.
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Furthermore, you state that the U.S. medical supply companies
will package and sterilize the laparotomy sponges in the United
States and sell them to U.S. hospitals and other health care
providers. The sponges will be used exclusively by the staff of
the hospitals and health care facilities.
You seek classification of the laparotomy sponges under heading
6307 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States
Annotated (HTSUSA ), as other made up articles.
Are the laparotomy sponges classifiable under heading 3005,
HTSUSA (wadding, gauze, bandages and similar articles) or under
heading 6307, HTSUSA (other made up articles)?
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 and any relative section or chapter notes, taken in
their appropriate order. Laparotomy sponges are specifically
provided for in subheading 3005.90.5010, HTSUSA. That provision
Wadding, gauze, bandages and similar articles (for
example, dressings, adhesive plasters, poultices),
impregnated or coated with pharmaceutical substances or
put up in forms or packings for retail sale for
medical, surgical, dental or veterinary purposes:
Other: Other: Laparotomy sponges.
In interpreting the headings and subheadings, Customs looks to
the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System
Explanatory Notes, which are not legally binding, but are
recognized as the official interpretation of the Harmonized
System at the international level. In this case, the Explanatory
Note for heading 3005 clarifies the intent of the heading text.
The Explanatory Note states:
Wadding and gauze for dressings (usually of absorbent
cotton) and bandages,
etc., not impregnated or coated with pharmaceutical
substances, are also classified
in this heading, provided they are exclusively intended
(e.g., because of the labels
affixed or special folding) for sale directly without
re-packing, to users (private
persons, hospitals, etc.) for use for medical,
surgical, dental or veterinary purposes.
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You concede that the laparotomy sponges in question do not
qualify for classification under heading 3005, because they will
be packaged and sterilized in the United States. Thus, they are
not "put up in forms or packings for retail sale" upon
importation into the United States.
As the gauze sponges do not meet the requirements for
classification in heading 3005, we must look to alternative
classifications. The laparotomy sponges are made of cotton woven
fabric with a four-inch barium sulfate monofilament.
Additionally, some sponges have a blue loop sewn into one corner.
A small metal ring is attached to the end of some loops.
The barium sulfate strip is classifiable under heading 2833,
HTSUSA (sulfates; alums; peroxosulfates (persulfates). See,
Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 956806, dated November 1, 1994
and the rulings cited in that case. Your letter did not provide
us with sufficient information to definitively classify the metal
ring and blue loop. However, the metal ring is probably
classifiable under heading 7326, HTSUSA (other articles of iron
or steel), heading 7616, HTSUSA (other articles of aluminum) or
7419, HTSUSA (other articles of brass), depending upon its
composition. The blue loop may be classifiable under heading
5808, HTSUSA (braids in the piece).
The cotton gauze fabric consists of four fabric layers formed
from one large piece of folded woven fabric. It is folded and
sewn down the middle in both directions and the edges are sewn.
Section XI provides for textiles and textile articles. Note 7 to
Section XI states that for purposes of this section, the
expression "made up" means:
(a) Cut otherwise than into squares or rectangles;
(b) Produced in the finished state, ready for use (or
merely needing separation by cutting dividing
threads) without sewing or other working (for
example, certain dusters, towels, tablecloths,
scarf squares, blankets);
(c) Hemmed or with rolled edges, or with a knotted
fringe at any of the edges, but excluding fabrics
the cut edges of which have been prevented from
unravelling by whipping or by other simple means;
(d) Cut to size and having undergone a process of drawn
(e) Assembled by sewing, gumming or otherwise (other
than piece goods consisting of two or more lengths
of identical material joined end to end and piece
goods composed of two or more textiles assembled
in layers, whether or not padded); or
(f) Knitted or crocheted to shape, whether presented
as separate items or in the form of a number of
items in the length.
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In this case, the laparotomy sponges satisfy the definition of
"made up" provided by Note 7. They are assembled by sewing,
hemmed so that the edges will not unravel, and are ready for use
without [further] sewing. Consequently, they are classifiable
under heading 6307.
GRI 2(b) directs that goods consisting of more than one material
or substance, like the laparotomy sponges in this case, are to be
classified according to the principles of GRI 3. GRI 3(a)
provides, among other things, that when two or more headings
refer to part only of the materials or substances in a composite
good, the headings are to be considered equally specific.
Customs has long held that a cotton gauze sponge with a barium
sulfate strip is a composite good. HQ 956806 and HQ 952369,
dated December 17, 1993. Thus, the headings in question are
equally specific and GRI 3(b) is applicable.
GRI 3(b) provides that classification is to be determined by the
material or component which imparts the essential character to
the good. Customs has also long held that it is the gauze fabric
and not the barium strip which constitutes the essential
character of a laparotomy sponge because the fabric serves the
primary function - to absorb bodily fluids. The barium sulfate
strip serves merely as a marker or identifier. HQ 956806 and HQ
952369. Accordingly, we agree with you that the laparotomy
sponges in this case are classifiable under heading 6307, as
other made up articles.
The laparotomy sponges are classifiable under subheading
6307.90.9989, HTSUSA, which provides for "Other made up articles,
including dress patterns: Other: Other: Other." They are
dutiable at the general column rate of duty at 7 percent ad
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
Tariff Classification Appeals