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HQ 082644

March 2, 1990

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 082644 CRS


TARIFF NO.: 5903.20.2000, 5903.20.2500

Mr. Eugene Milosh
American Association of Exporters and Importers
11 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036

RE: Coated Fabrics; Use of Magnification

Dear Mr. Milosh:

This is in reply to your letter dated August 4, 1988, in which you requested clarification as to what constitutes a visible coating for fabrics under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). The initial inquiry was not accompanied by a sample; however, two fabric swatches were subsequently submitted by Saxton Hall Ltd., a member of the American Association of Exporters and Importers.


You have asked for further clarification as to when Customs will use magnification to determine whether an impregnation, coating, covering or lamination is visible to the naked eye such that garments made from such coated fabrics are classifiable in heading 6210, HTSUSA.

The samples submitted in connection with this ruling request are two swatches of 65 percent polyester, 35 percent cotton, polyurethane-coated fabric. The two swatches of fabric appear to be of different weight. Moreover, while both fabrics have been sprayed with a coating of plastics, the nature of the coatings is different. The "silver backed" coating applied to swatch "A" has caused the underlying fabric to turn a dull, silver-grey color. The application of the coating is uneven.

In contrast, a "silverized" coating has been applied to the second sample, swatch "B." The coating is lustrous and also more uniform than that applied to swatch "B." Nevertheless, there are numerous spots which suggest a "broken bubble" effect or pitting on the surface.


1) Under what circumstances will Customs use magnification to determine whether coatings are visible to the naked eye; 2) whether Customs requires that coatings be uniform and that fibers not be visible through the coating; and 3) whether the coatings applied to the fabrics in question are visible to the naked eye such that garments made therefrom are classifiable in heading 6210, HTSUSA.


Articles are classified under the HTSUSA in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 provides that the classification of articles is determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes and, provided the headings or notes do not otherwise require, according to the remaining GRIs taken in order.

Note 2, Chapter 59, HTSUSA, states that heading 5903 applies to all textile fabrics impregnated, coated, covered or laminated with plastics other than those in which the impregnation, coating or covering cannot be seen with the naked eye. No account is to be taken of changes in color. Heading 6210, HTSUSA, applies to garments made up of fabrics of heading 5903, as well as to garments made up from fabrics of headings 5602, 5603, 5906 or 5907.

Using only the naked eye, however, it can be difficult to distinguish impregnations, coatings, coverings or laminations, from processing operations such as heat calendaring, water repellency applications, etc. For example, heat calendaring is a process which partially melts the fibers, thereby forming a smooth plastic surface. Thus in order to distinguish heat calendaring from a surface coating it is occasionally necessary to examine the fabric under magnification to determine whether heat deformation (melted fibers, which indicate that calendaring has taken place) is present.

Customs has previously ruled that the naked eye test can be augmented by magnification in certain circumstances. In a memorandum dated March 14, 1988, to the Area Director of Customs, New York Seaport, file 082994, we ruled that magnification is allowable as an aid in determining whether what could be seen on the surface of a fabric was a coating or merely the textile itself.

Nevertheless, before using magnification, it is Customs' practice to examine textiles with the naked eye alone in order to ascertain whether a coating is present. If nothing resembling a coating is observed, the fabric will not be considered coated for classification purposes. Nevertheless, if a visual examination suggests the presence of a coating, it is within Customs' discretion to examine the fabric under magnification to confirm or refute the initial observation.

You state that it is your understanding that fabric coatings must be uniform and that fibers may not be visible through the coating. This, however, is not Customs' position with regard to what constitutes a coating visible to the naked eye. On the contrary, we have ruled previously that coatings which were not uniform were nevertheless classifiable in heading 6210. HRL 083127, dated November 8, 1989, held that a men's ski jacket was coated and therefore classifiable in heading 6210. There it was stated in pertinent part:

In this case, the jacket's plastic coating is not uniform. Instead of forming a smooth, even layer, the coating is broken by the presence of numerous small pores. The existence of these openings permit one to see through to the underlying fabric of the ski jacket.

Thus while Customs would require more than a mere spot coating, there is no requirement that a coating be uniform or that a fabric's underlying fibers be completely covered.

Neither of the two swatches in question, however, require the use of magnification. The silver-backed coating of swatch "A" has obscured the plain weave pattern which is readily apparent on the non-coated side of the fabric. Whereas the gaps between the weft and warp yarns are visible on the non-coated side, on the coated side the plastics application has blurred or obstructed these gaps so that in many instances it is difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish warp from weft.

The same is true, to a greater degree, of the second fabric in question. The silverized coating of swatch "B" imparts a sheen to the fabric but does not completely conceal its underlying blue color. The fact that it is possible to see through the coating to the fabric below suggests that what the eye perceives is not only a change in color but a layer of coating over a layer of fabric.

Thus we consider that the coatings of both swatches "A" and "B" are visible to the naked eye within the meaning of Note 2(a)(1), Chapter 59. Consequently, both fabrics are coated such that they are classifiable within heading 5903, HTSUSA. Garments made up from such fabrics would be classifiable, ceteris paribus, in heading 6210.


If the fabrics in question exceed 70 percent by weight of plastics, they are both classifiable in subheading 5903.20.2000, HTSUSA, under the provision for textile fabrics impregnated, coated...with polyurethane, of man-made fibers, other, over 70 percent by weight of rubber or plastics, and dutiable at a rate of 4.2 percent ad valorem. In this instance the fabrics would not be subject to quota.

If the fabrics in question are less than 70 percent by weight of plastics, they are classifiable in subheading 5903.20.2500, HTSUSA, under the provision for textile fabrics impregnated,coated...with polyurethane, of man-made fibers, other, other, and are dutiable at 8.5 percent ad valorem. The quota category is 229.

The designated textile and apparel category may be subdivided into parts. If so, visa and quota requirements applicable to the subject merchandise may be affected. Since part categories are the result of international bilateral agreements which are subject to frequent renegotiations and changes, to obtain the most current information available, we suggest that you check, close to the time of shipment, the Status Report on Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), an internal issuance of the U.S. Customs Service, which is available for inspection at your local Customs office.

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 importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


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