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HQ 086746

September 27, 1990

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 086746 RFC


TARIFF NO.: 6815.99.4000

Mr. William J. LeClair
Trans-Border Customs Services, Inc.
One Trans-Border Drive
P.O. Box 800
Champlain, NY 12919

RE: Industrial gasketing materials

Dear Mr. LeClair:

This ruling letter is in response to your request of February 15, 1990, on behalf of Donex Inc., concerning the tariff classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) of certain industrial gasketing materials used to seal pipe flanges. Samples were submitted for examination.


There exist four separate products for which classification rulings are sought. The products are identified as Optite 660, Optite 670, Optite 770, and Optite 880. Each product is imported in 60 inch widths and 60 inch lengths with thicknesses from 1/64th inch to 1/4 inch. Laboratory analysis of the submitted samples and information provided by the importer show that each product contains synthetic fibers (approximately 8-13 percent), a mineral filler (approximately 65-75 percent), and a rubber binder (approximately 13-25 percent). The products identified as Optite 660 and Optite 880 contain a nitrile rubber (NBR) binder and the products identified as Optite 670 and Optite 770 contain a styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) binder.

The rubber found in each of the four products acts primarily as a binder but also provides strength and thermal resistance. The mineral filler found in each of the four products consists of clay and silicon dioxide. This filler constitutes the major component of each product and is the principal source of the strength, sealing and thermal-resistant attributes of the gasketing materials. Finally, the synthetic fibers found in each of the four products consist of aramid fibers. The fibers are simply dispersed in random fashion throughout the other components in the gasketing materials for added strength and thermal resistance. The fibers are less than 5 mm in length, and, as such, they are neither spun nor woven and do not constitute a textile fabric.

After importation, the gasketing materials are die cut into gaskets for use "between pipe flanges to seal against leakage for a variety of liquid and gas medias."


What is the material or component that gives an industrial gasketing material consisting of synthetic fibers, a mineral filler, and a rubber binder its essential character?


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 states, in part, that "for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes...." When goods, however, are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings, classification is to be effected pursuant to the provisions of GRI 3. GRI 3(b) states, in part, that "[m]ixtures...which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a)...[(i.e., there exists no heading that provides the most specific description among headings providing a more general description)], shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character...." Explanatory Note Rule 3(b)(VIII) states, in part, that "[t]he factor which determines essential character will vary as between different kinds of goods. It 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."

In the instant classification analysis, the component materials of the above-described gasketing materials are classified under the following headings: The rubber is classified under heading 4008 as plates or sheets of vulcanized rubber other than hard rubber, and the mineral filler is classified under heading 6815 as articles of stone or of other mineral substances, not elsewhere specified or included in the HTSUSA. With respect to the synthetic fibers, they fail to qualify either as a nonwoven for purposes of heading 5603 or as a textile product for technical uses in heading 5911. Accordingly, the synthetic fibers are classified under heading 5601 as textile fibers not exceeding 5 mm in length. From among these headings, the goods are, prima facie, classifiable under headings 4008 and 6815 as these headings both provide for articles made of materials found in the gasketing materials. On the other hand, heading 5601 is not a competing heading as it only provides for a material found in the gasketing materials and not for the more specific description of articles made of a material found in the gasketing materials (as headings 4008 and 6815 so provide). GRI 3(b) applies, then, because the gasketing materials are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings (i.e., 4008 and 6815).

Following their importation, the gasketing materials are die cut into gaskets for industrial use as sealants between pipe flanges. The quality that gives the gasketing materials their commercial appeal, then, is the ability to seal pipe flanges to prevent leakage of liquids and gases at high temperatures. As between the mineral filler and the rubber binder (which are the materials found in the gasketing materials for which competing headings exist pursuant to GRI 3(b)), the mineral filler, as discussed above, is the principal source of the strength, sealing, and, particularly, thermal-resistance attributes of the gasketing materials. Thus, the essential character of the gasketing materials is provided by the mineral filler. The gasketing materials, therefore, must be classified as if consisting of this filler, pursuant to GRI 3(b).


All four of the above-identified gasketing materials are classified under subheading 6815.99.4000, HTSUSA, which provides for articles of mineral substance not otherwise specified or included. The general rate of duty is 4.5 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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