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HQ 087194

June 13, 1990

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 087194 CB


TARIFF NO.: 5603.00.9010

Ms. Kristine L. Sharratt
Norman G. Jensen, Inc.
3050 Metro Drive
Suite 300
Minneapolis, MN 55425

RE: Classification of disinfecting cleaning wipes

Dear Ms. Sharratt:

This letter is in response to your inquiry of December 11, 1989 on behalf of Softsoap Enterprises, Inc., requesting a classification ruling under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), for certain disinfecting cleaning cloth.


The merchandise at issue consists of wipes of nonwoven construction that are imported in cut to size pieces measuring 22.86 cm x 30.48 cm. These cloths have been impregnated with a chemical disinfectant designed to kill bacteria and remove molds and mildew in such places as kitchens and bathrooms. The New York Customs Laboratory found the textile substrate portion to be composed of 64% rayon, 17% paper fibers, 2% polyester and 17% plastic binder, by weight. According to the information you have provided, these wipes are put up in packages for retail sale and are reusable as indicated on the retail sales package.


Whether the subject wipes are classifiable in Chapter 48, HTSUSA, as a paper wipe, in Chapter 38, HTSUSA, as a disinfectant, or in Chapter 56, HTSUSA, as a nonwoven?


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. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI's may be applied, taken in order.

Heading 3808, HTSUSA, provides for insecticides..., disinfectants and similar products, put up in forms or packings for retail sale or as preparations or articles.... The Explanatory Notes to heading 3808, HTSUSA, provide that products classified in this heading must be of the type put up in packings for retail sale. The Explanatory Notes constitute the official interpretation of the tariff schedule at the international level. You stated that the subject wipes are imported in bulk. After importation they are cut to size and packaged for retail sale. Therefore, since the wipes do not meet the packaged for retail sale at the time of importation requirement set forth in heading 3808, HTSUSA, they are not classifiable in this heading.

It is your contention that the subject merchandise is classifiable in subheading 4803.00.4000, HTSUSA, which provides for toilet or facial tissue stock, towel or napkin stock and similar paper of a kind used for household or sanitary purposes...: other. We do not agree with your conclusion. The General Explanatory Notes to Chapter 48 provide in part:

Paper consists essentially of the cellulosic fibres of the pulps of Chapter 47 felted together in sheet form. Many products, such as certain tea-bag materials, consist of a mixture of these cellulose fibres and of textile fibres (in particular man-made fibres as defined in Note 1 to Chapter 54). Where the textile fibres predominate by weight, the products are not regarded as paper and are classified as nonwovens (heading 5603).

A laboratory analysis of the subject wipes indicate the following composition by weight:

Rayon 64%
Paper Fibers 17%
Polyester 2%
Plastic Binder 17%

In the instant case, the textile fibres predominate by weight. Therefore, classification under heading 4803, HTSUSA, is precluded.

Legal Note 1, Chapter 56, provides that the chapter does not cover nonwovens impregnated with substances or preparations where the textile material is present merely as a carrying medium. In essence, when the merchandise subject to classification is a composite good, i.e. a nonwoven and the disinfectant, an essential character determination must be made pursuant to GRI 3(b). In the instant case, the nonwoven material and disinfectant are classifiable under different chapters (Chapters 56 and 38 respectively). It is Customs position that the textile portion imparts the essential character of the disposable wipes. The nonwoven material is an integral part of the final product. The textile portion of the product does not require the presence of the disinfectant in order to serve its purpose as a wipe. On the other hand, the disinfectant does require the presence of the nonwoven material. The packaging information you submitted with your request emphasizes the usefulness of the product as a bathroom wipe. Therefore, classification of the wipe lies in heading 5603, HTSUSA.


The subject disinfecting cleaning wipes are classifiable in subheading 5603.00.9010, HTSUSA, which provides for nonwovens, whether or not impregnated, coated, covered or laminated: other: impregnated, coated or covered with material other than or in addition to rubber, plastics,.... The rate of duty is 12.5% ad valorem and the textile category is 223.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the tariff number) 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.

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 issuance of the U.S. Customs Service, which is updated weekly and is available at your local Customs office.

A copy of this ruling letter should be attached to the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If the documents have been filed without a copy, this ruling should be brought to the attention of the Customs officer handling the transaction.


John Durant, Director

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