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HQ 084362

August 11, 1989

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 084362 JLJ 839674


TARIFF NO.: 6210.10.4010, 9902.62.10

Ms. Soraya Ellison, Import Dept.
Lucios & Lucios, Inc.,
1775 N.W. 70th Avenue
Miami, Florida 33126

RE: Tariff classification of a disposable surgical gown of Sontara

Dear Ms. Ellison:

On behalf of your client, Bolden Products, Inc., you request a tariff classification for a disposable surgical gown made of Sontara. The material is of United States origin. The manufacturer wants to have the fabric cut and stitched in the Dominican Republic. You submitted a sample along with your letter.


The sample submitted is of nonwoven DuPont Sontara material. Sontara is a two layer material made of a polyester fiber batt and a wood pulp paper which are hydraulically entangled together by a patented water jet spray. The final product is 45 percent plus or minus 2 percent polyester by weight and 55 percent plus or minus 2 percent wood pulp by weight.

The sample submitted is a sealed plastic package containing a large sterile surgical back gown and a hand towel. The package says "Contents of the unopened, undamaged package are sterile."


What is the tariff classification of the surgical gown under the Harmonized Tariff Shedule of the United States (HTSUSA)?


The material of the gown in question is Sontara, a two layer product composed of a layer of wood pulp fiber (i.e., paper) combined with a layer of polyester fiber batt (i.e., a nonwoven textile). As such, Sontara is a composite good within the purview of General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 3, HTSUSA. GRI 3, HTSUSA, reads as follows:

When, by application of rule 2(b) or for any other reason, goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings, classification shall be effected as follows:

(a) 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 or to part only of the items in a set put up for retail sale, those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to those goods, even if one of them gives a more complete or precise description of the goods.

(b) Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale, which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

(c) When goods cannot be classified by reference to 3(a) or 3(b), they shall be classified under the heading which occurs last in numerical order among those which equally merit consideration.

GRI 3(a) does not apply, because both Heading 4818 (articles of paper apparel) and Heading 6210 (garments made up of nonwoven fabrics) refer to only part of the materials contained in the composite good; therefore, they are considered to be equally specific.

GRI 3(b) says that if composite goods cannot be classified under GRI 3(b), they shall be classified as if they consisted of that 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. Each is necessary to the use and function of the article. Accordingly, the instant surgical gown cannot be classified in accordance with GRI 3(b), either.

GRI 3(c) provides that when goods cannot be classified by reference to GRI 3(a) or GRI 3(b), they shall be classified under the heading which appears last in numerical order among those being considered. Between Heading 4818 and Heading 6210, HTSUSA, Heading 6210 is the last in numerical order; therefore, it is the applicable heading under GRI 3(c), HTSUSA.

The polyester fiber batt is classifiable as a nonwoven textile material in Heading 5603, HTSUSA. The instant surgical gown is therefore classifiable under the provision for garments, made up of fabrics of heading 5602, 5603, 5903, 5906 or 5907: of fabrics of heading 5602 or 5603: other: nonwoven disposable apparel designed for use in hospitals, clinics, laboratories or contaminated areas, in subheading 6210.10.4010, HTSUSA, dutiable at the rate of 17 percent ad valorem. If the surgical gown is sterilized or in immediate packing ready for sterilization, it may be eligible for a 5.6 percent ad valorem duty rate under subheading 9902.62.10, HTSUSA, which provides for bonded fiber fabric disposable gowns, sterilized or in immediate packings ready for sterilization, for use in performing surgical procedures, of man-made fibers.

This surgical gown may qualify for duty-free treatment under the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBERA) provided it meets the requirements set forth in that act. The Customs Service would need to know the costs of all materials and processing and where these costs occurred before a decision could be reached.


The instant surgical gown of Sontara is classified in subheading 6210.10.4010, HTSUSA.


John Durant, Director

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