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HQ 085012

August 7, 1989
CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 085012 SLR


TARIFF NO.: 6117.80.0030, 4303.10.0060

John A. Bessich, Esquire
Follick & Bessich, P.C.
225 Broadway
Suite 500
New York, New York 10007

RE: Classification of earmuffs

Dear Mr. Bessich:

This ruling is in response to your letter of June 6, 1989, on behalf of your client, Arlington Hat Co., Inc., requesting the classification of earmuffs under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). Samples were provided.


The submitted merchandise consists of five different styles of earmuffs: Regular, Jumbo, Halo, Pet and Rabbit. Each of the earmuffs is constructed of a nylon plastic frame, acrylic textile fabric (or rabbit fur in the case of the Rabbit earmuffs) forming the outer surface of the portion covering the ears. Polyurethane foam (or Thinsulate in the case of the Regular earmuffs) lies between the plastic frame and the outer textile material or rabbit fur.


Whether the earmuffs are classifiable under the HTSUSA as plastic apparel accessories or textile clothing accessories (except for the Rabbit earmuffs); or, in the case of the Rabbit earmuffs only, clothing accessories of furskin.


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI), taken in order. (GRI) 1 provides that classification is determined according to the terms of the headings and any relevant section
or chapter notes. No heading within the HTSUSA exists in which to classify articles made of textile fabric (or rabbit fur) and plastic such as the earmuffs at issue. GRI 2, therefore, must be consulted.

GRI 2(a) refers to incomplete or unfinished articles, and so does not apply to this case. GRI 2(b) refers to goods consisting of more than one material or substance as being classifiable according to GRI 3.

Following GRI 2(b), two headings may apply to the Regular, Jumbo, Halo and Pet style earmuffs: 3926, other articles of plastic, and 6117, other made up clothing accessories of knit textile fabric. As for the Rabbit earmuffs, headings 3926 and 4303, other articles of furskin, may apply. Under 3(a), the competing headings must be regarded as equally specific since each refers to only part of the materials from which the earmuffs are made.

Since the concept of relative specificity is of no value to this case, classification must be determined by the application of GRI 3(b). That rule provides that composite goods of different materials, which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material which gives them their essential character.

The Explanatory Notes (EN) to the HTSUSA constitute the official interpretaion of the tariff at the international level. The Explanatory Note to GRI 3(b) states that the essential character may be determined by the nature of the material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods.

It is the opinion of this office that the role of the acrylic knit in relation to the use of the merchandise at issue clearly indicates that the textile portion is indispensable to the functioning of this product. The same can be said for the rabbit fur. These materials ease the discomfort felt around the outer ear caused by cold temperatures. Plastic alone cannot function in this manner.

As a separate but equally important matter, the Regular, Jumbo, Halo, and Pet earmuffs constitute "apparel and clothing accessories" not "other garments" under the HTSUSA. The notes for Chapter 61 limit the application of headings involving "garments" to those items which cover the trunk of the body. They exclude items which cover only the head or lower legs or arms. The general Explanatory Notes to Chapter 61, along with EN 61.14, also support this position. Here, the earmuffs in
issue closely resemble several of the articles deemed "accessories" according to EN 61.17: scarves, mufflers, muffs, mantillas, and veils.


The Regular, Jumbo, Halo, and Pet earmuffs are classifiable under subheading 6117.80.0030, HTSUSA, as other made up clothing accessories, knitted, other accessories, of man-made fibers, textile category 659, dutiable at 15.5% ad valorem.

The Rabbit earmuffs are classifiable under subheading 4303.10.0060, HTSUSA, as articles of apparel, clothing accessories and other articles of furskin, other, dutiable at 5.8% 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 importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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