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HQ 081945

JANUARY 29, 1990

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 081945 PR


TARIFF NO.: 4818; 6217; 4823.90.8500; 6307.90.9050

Lynn S. Baker, Esquire
Katten, Muchin & Zavis
525 West Monroe Street, suite 1600
Chicago, Ill. 60606-3693

RE: Classification of Disposable Shoe Covers

Dear Ms.Baker:

This ruling is in response to your letter of November 3, 1988, and subsequent letters, on behalf of Baxter Healthcare Corporation, concerning the tariff status of disposable shoe covers.


The products which are the subject of this ruling are three types of disposable shoe covers. Each of the covers consist of a light-weight material stitched closed on the bottom and an elasticized opening at the top, thus creating an article that can be slipped over a shoe for the protection of the shoe. The covers differ only in the material from which they are made. Style 4668 consists of a material that has two plies of tissue paper internally reinforced with nylon. Style 4870 is made from spunbonded polypropylene fibers. Style 4811 is made from a two layer material called "Assure" which is manufactured on a fourdrinier paper making machine utilizing what is commonly referred to as the "wet process". It is a two layered sheet; a layer of tissue paper made entirely of wood pulp, laminated to a layer of wood pulp combined with a polyester fiber fabric. It appears reasonable from the figures provided that we assume the polyester fibers exceed the wood pulp in weight in the layer in which those two materials are combined.


There are three primary issues involved in this ruling. (1) Where wood pulp and textile fibers are formed into a fabric, how is it determined whether the resultant material is paper or a textile nonwoven fabric? (2) Is Style 4811, which consists of two layers of material, classifiable in Section XI, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), as a textile article, or under Heading 48, HTSUSA, as a paper article? and (3) Are shoe covers classifiable as clothing accessories, or as other textile or paper articles?



It is Customs view that where wood pulp and textile fibers are combined, the material which predominates by weight will determine whether the resultant mixture is classifiable as paper or as a nonwoven textile fabric.

This view is supported by the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, Explanatory Notes, which are the official interpretation of the HTSUSA at the international level (the 4 and 6 digit headings). The Explanatory Notes, at page 774, in explaining the coverage of Heading 5603, HTSUSA (nonwovens, whether or not impregnated, coated, covered, or laminated), states, "A nonwoven is a sheet or web of predominately textile fibers oriented directionally or randomly and bonded." (underscoring added) In addition, The Explanatory Notes For Chapter 48, HTSUSA, wherein most paper and paper products are classifiable, state:

Paper consists essentially of the cellulosic fibers of the pulps of Chapter 47 felted together in sheet form. Many products, such as certain tea-bag [sic] materials, consist of a mixture of these cellulosic fibers and of textile fibers (in particular man-made fibers as defined in Note 1 to Chapter 54). Where the textile fibers predominate by weight, the products are not regarded as paper and are classified as nonwovens (heading 56.03). (at page 664, underscoring added).

ISSUES 2 and 3

These two issues are interrelated and are treated together. As noted above, where pulp and textile fibers are combined into a single sheet, the predominate material by weight will determine whether the sheet is paper or textile for tariff purposes. In this instance, Style 4811 is composed of a two layer material, one layer of paper and one layer of a combination of pulp and textile fibers, with the textile fibers predominating by weight. Therefore, that second (combination) layer is considered to be a nonwoven textile fabric.

In determining whether Style 4811 is classifiable as a textile or a paper article, General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 1 requires that we look not only at the wording of the headings, but also at any relevant section and chapter notes. In this connection, Section XI, Note 1(m), HTSUSA, provides that Section XI, wherein most textile articles are located, does not cover "Products or articles of Chapter 48". Accordingly, if Style 4811 is an "article of Chapter 48", it is classifiable as such and not as a textile article.

It is Customs view that an article consisting of separate layers of textile fabric and paper laminated together, should not automatically, by virtue of Note 1(m), be classified in Chapter 48. To do so would nullify both Subheading 6307.90.60, in Section XI, which provides for surgical drapes of fabric formed on a base of paper or lined with paper, and the Explanatory Notes at page 675, which state that Heading 4807, HTSUSA, which provides for composite paper, includes

. . . paper and paperboard which are internally reinforced with . . . textile . . . provided the essential character of the products remains that of paper or paperboard.

Without clear and compelling reasons, Customs will not nullify either a statutory provision in the HTSUSA, or a clear pronouncement in the Explanatory Notes. In this situation, there is no specific provision in Chapter 48 covering Style 4811. In the absence of such a provision, and considering both the statutory language in Heading 6307 and the language of the Explanatory Notes for Heading 4807, Customs is unable to find that Style 4811 is a "product or article of Chapter 48" within the meaning of Chapter XI Note 1(m).

As a laminate comprised of two separate component materials, the Style 4811 is considered to be mixed or composite goods, within the purview of GRI 3, HTSUSA. In order to ascertain whether GRI 3(a), relative specificity, applies, it must be determined which provisions are competing.

Shoe covers are not classifiable in Chapter 64, HTSUSA, which contains the provisions for footwear, because the Explanatory notes state:

For the purposes of this Chapter, the term "footwear" does not, however, include disposable foot or shoe coverings of flimsy material (paper, sheeting of plastics, etc.) without applied soles. These products are classifiable according to their constituent materials. (at pg. 874)

Both Chapter 48 and Chapter 62 contain provisions for apparel and clothing accessories. In our view, shoes are commonly considered to be apparel accessories and not "clothing". While shoe covers may be considered to be shoe accessories, accessories of clothing accessories are not, themselves, clothing accessories. This is in consonance with an opinion of the Customs Cooperation Council contained in its 1987 Compendium of Classification Opinions. While that opinion is not binding on the United States, it is an added factor to be considered along with all other factors.

In Chapter 48, there are two possible provisions that may be applicable to shoe covers. The first is Heading 4818, HTSUSA, which provides for specifically listed articles and similar sanitary and hospital paper articles. The problem with applying Heading 4818 is that none of the named articles are similar to the instant shoe covers. Therefore, even though Heading 4818 refers to sanitary and hospital articles, shoe covers can not be classified under that heading. The second possibility is Heading 4823, HTSUSA, which provides for, among other things, other articles of paper.

In Section XI, the applicable provision would be under Heading 6307, HTSUSA, which provides for other made up articles of textile fabric.

GRI 3(a) states, in part, that the heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description. However, when two or more headings each refer to part only of the materials or substances contained in mixed or composite goods, those headings are to be regarded as equally specific. In this instance, Headings 4823 and 6307 each refer in to part only of the material in the shoe covers, which are composite goods. Accordingly, GRI 3(a) is not applicable.

GRI 3(b) states that if composite goods cannot be classified in accordance with GRI 3(a), they shall be classified as if they consisted of that component or material which gives them their essential character. In this regard, we believe that neither the paper nor the nonwoven fabric imparts the essential character to the merchandise. Both are present in substantial quantity and value, and each is necessary to the use and function of the article. Accordingly, the shoe covers cannot be classified in accordance with the requirements of GRI 3(b) and, therefore, GRI 3(c) becomes applicable.

GRI 3(c) provides that when goods cannot be classified by reference to GRI's 3(a) and 3(b), they shall be classified under the heading which appears last in numerical order among those being considered.


In accordance with the above, the subject shoe covers are classifiable as follows:

1. Style 4668, which is made of two plies of paper internally reinforced with nylon, a material of Heading 4807 (composite paper), is classifiable under the provision for other articles of paper, in Subheading 4823.90.8500, HTSUSA, with duty at the 1989 rate of 5.3 percent ad valorem. This merchandise is currently not subject to international textile restraints.

2. Style 4870, which is made from a spunbonded nonwoven fabric, is classifiable under the provision for other made up textile articles, in Subheading 6307.90.9050, HTSUSA, with duty at the 1989 rate of 7 percent ad valorem. This merchandise is currently not subject to international textile restraints.

3. Style 4811, which is made from a two ply material, paper and nonwoven textile fabric, is classifiable under the provision for other made up textile articles, in Subheading 6307.90.9050, HTSUSA, with duty at the 1989 rate of 7 percent ad valorem. This merchandise is currently not subject to international textile restraints.


John Durant, Director

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