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HQ 086629

May 4, 1990

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 086629 CB


TARIFF NO.: 6210.10.2000; 6307.90.6000

Lynn S. Baker, Esq.
Katten Muchin & Zavis
525 West Monroe Street
Suite 1600
Chicago, Illinois 60606-3693

RE: Request for Reconsideration of HQ 081946 issued December 29, 1989; Classification of Surgical Garments and Drapes

Dear Ms. Baker:

This is in response to your letter of February 26, 1990, on behalf of Baxter Healthcare Corp., requesting a reconsideration of HQ 081946 issued on December 29, 1989, classifying certain surgical garments and drapes under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA).


Seven articles assembled in Mexico of United States components were classified. All seven articles, used in hospitals during surgical procedures, are made of Sontara, a material made of a polyester fiber batt and a wood pulp paper which are hydraulically entangled together by a patented water jet process. The articles are intended to be disposed of after a single use.

The seven articles at issue are a perineal towel ("peri towel"); a surgical drape; a warm-up jacket; a scrub top; scrub pants; and two operating gowns. The peri towel was classified in subheading 6307.90.9010, HTSUSA, as other made up articles of textile materials. The surgical drape was classified in subheading 6307.90.7010, HTSUSA, as surgical drape of nonwoven man-made fibers. The garments were classified in subheading 6210.10.4010, as nonwoven disposable apparel designed for use in hospitals.

Classification of the subject articles as articles of paper or articles of textile on a base of paper is being sought.


Whether the subject articles are properly classifiable as textile or paper articles?


Classification of merchandise under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) 1 through 6. The systematic detail of the HTSUSA is such that virtually all goods are classified by application of GRI 1, that is, according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relevant section or chapter notes. Then, if GRI 1 fails to classify the goods, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI's may be applied, taken in order.


It is your opinion that the subject articles are more properly classifiable as hospital articles of paper or, in the alternative, as textile articles formed on a base of paper. You have made several assertions in support of your submissions to promote your view.

It is your contention that articles constructed from Sontara should be classified according to their essential character. GRI 3(b) provides that composite goods shall be classified as if they consisted of the component which gives them their essential character. You have stated that in HQ 081946 Customs summarily dismisses the application of GRI 3(b), or classification according to essential character. In fact, Sontara does qualify as a composite good within the scope of GRI 3(b). Sontara is a two layer product composed of a layer of wood pulp fiber combined with a layer of polyester fiber batt which are not provided for under a single heading. Therefore, an essential character determination is appropriate when classifying articles made from Sontara.

In your submission of February 26, 1990, you state that the paper component imparts the essential character of Sontara products because it predominates by weight, is greater in value, carries the fluid repellency treatment, and it is more "breathable". You also state that the polyester merely serves to add strength. According to the information you have provided, Sontara contains 55% by weight of paper and 45% by weight of polyester.

We are not persuaded by the information provided. Customs Laboratory analysis has shown that many of the polyester characteristics tend to predominate in the garments and drapes. The fabric consists by weight of 50.3% polyester fibers and 49.7% paper fibers. The polyester portion imparts the wearability and durability of the garment. Also, the polyester enhances the ability of the composite material to be cut and sewn into a garment. The Laboratory also found that the instant products do not possess the physical specifications associated with paper, i.e. burst strength, tensile strength, fold endurance, etc. Regarding the assertion that the paper portion is the sole medium for the fluid repellency treatment, Customs Laboratory testing has determined otherwise. The fabric's absorbency of the repellant cannot be credited solely to the presence of paper. Testing has indicated that if the polyester fibers did not pick up the fluorohydrocarbon finish the product's outer layer fluid resistance would be insufficient. In view of the foregoing, it is Customs position that the essential character of Sontara is not imparted by the paper portion of the product. Therefore, it is classifiable as a textile product.

The instant polyester fiber batt is classifiable as a nonwoven textile material in Heading 5603, HTSUSA. Garments made up of fabrics of heading 5603, HTSUSA, are classifiable in subheading 6210.10, HTSUSA. It is Customs opinion that the Sontara manufacturing process qualifies as a fabric formed on a base of paper. Therefore, the subject Sontara garments are classifiable in subheading 6210.10.20, HTSUSA, which provides for garments made of fabrics formed on a base of paper.

Perineal Towels

It is your contention that HQ 081946 erroneously classified the "peri towel" in subheading 6307.90.90, HTSUSA, which provides for other made up articles, other. You have argued that the "peri towel" is more properly classified under the provision for surgical drapes formed on a base of paper because they are used to cover a patient's body during surgical procedures as part of the draping system. We are in agreement. An industry survey indicated that these items are, in fact, used to drape a patient during surgical procedures. Additionally, surgical procedure manuals were also found to use the terms "towel" and "drape" interchangeably. Therefore, the "peri towel" is more properly classified under subheading 6307.90.60, HTSUSA, which provides for surgical drapes of a fabric formed on a base of paper. The surgical drape is also classifiable in subheading 6307.90.60, HTSUSA.


The warm-up jacket, scrub top, scrub pants, operating gown, and operating room gown are classifiable under subheading 6210.10.2000, HTSUSA, which provides for garments, made up of fabrics of heading 5602, 5603, 5903, 5906 or 5907: of fabrics of heading 5602 or 5603: of fabrics formed on a base of paper or covered or lined with paper. The rate of duty is 5.6 percent ad valorem.

The "peri towel" and surgical drape are classifiable in subheading 6307.90.6000, HTSUSA, which provides for other made up articles, including dress patterns: surgical drapes: of fabric formed on a base of paper or covered or lined with paper. The rate of duty is 5.6 percent ad valorem.

Pursuant to 19 CFR 177.9(d), HQ 081946 of December 29, 1989, is hereby revoked. If pending transactions are adversely affected by this modification, you may, at your discretion, notify this office and apply for temporary relief from the binding effects of this new ruling as may be dictated by the circumstances.


Harvey B. Fox, Director

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