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HQ 087479

January 14, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 087479 CRS


TARIFF NO.: 4303.19.6000; 4302.19.7500

Mr. Frederick P. Hege, Jr.
P.O. Box 141
Townsend, VT 05353-0141

RE: Slink lambskins not classifiable under provision covering Astrakhan, Broadtail, Caracul, Persian, Indian, Chinese, Mongolian or Tibetan lamb. NYRL 838593 modified in part. General Note 5, HTSUSA. Commingling.

Dear Mr. Hege:

This is in reply to your letter of June 20, 1990, requesting reconsideration of New York Ruling Letter (NYRL) 838593 of April 11, 1989. In addition, you submitted additional information in a letter dated October 26, 1990, including some sample invoices, and in a letter dated October 22, 1990. Sample skins of various grades and finishes were submitted with your request, together with two pages of sample "Broadtail" special finish cuttings.


The merchandise in question consists of slink lambskins, which are the peltries removed from premature or stillborn lambs, or animals that perished or were slaughtered soon after birth. As a general matter, slinks are not limited to a specific breed or species of lamb. Rather, it is the age of the lamb that determines whether a peltry qualifies as a slink lambskin.

Slink lambskins are characterized by a tight curly wool and a soft, lightweight pelt. Generally, they range in size from 1 to 2 square feet. The primary use for slink lambskins has been in the manufacture of lambskin gloves; however, they are also used in the manufacture of garments.

You have submitted twelve sample slink skins which vary considerably in size, color and quality. The smallest measures roughly 56 square inches; the largest, approximately 1 square feet. Some are dyed, others embossed, combed or ironed. The quality of the slinks also varies, ranging from Grade I, the highest quality, to Grade III, the lowest. In your original submission to our New York office dated March 17, 1990, you stated that production runs are not limited to a specific breed of lamb and that while they may contain, for example, Broadtail, Caracul and/or Indian lambskins, they may, and indeed are likely to contain skins from any number of different species. However, you state that for commercial purposes, the age of the lamb rather than the breed is what determines whether a skin qualifies as a slink.

In addition, you have submitted two pages from the L.H. Nicholls sample book which illustrates samples of various finishes, including some examples of L.H. Nicholls "Broadtail" type special finish cuttings. You state that the finish on these skins is achieved by shearing the wool of a slink skin as close to the skin as possible, a process which leaves a patterned effect. This finish has nothing to do with the breed of lamb from which the skin was obtained and is merely an operation which transforms the appearance of the wool.

The slink skins which were the subject of NYRL 838593 were held to be classifiable in three different subheadings (4302.13.0000; 4302.19.6000; or 4302.19.7500) depending upon whether they were of the Astrakhan, Broadtail, Caracul...or Tibetan variety; whether they were undyed; or dyed. However, the ruling also held that if the imported skins were packed together such that the quantity of each class of skin could not be readily ascertained, the imported merchandise would be subject to the commingling provision of General Note 5, HTSUSA.


What is the classification of slink lambskins under the HTSUSA.

Whether the instant merchandise is considered to be commingled pursuant to General Note 5, HTSUSA.


Articles are classified under the HTSUSA in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 provides that the classification of articles is determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes and, provided the headings or notes do not otherwise require, according to the remaining GRIs taken in order. GRI 6 extends the GRIs to the subheading level.

Heading 4302, HTSUSA, provides for tanned or dressed furskins. Subheading 4302.13.0000, HTSUSA, covers Astrakhan, Broadtail, Persian and similar lamb, Indian, Chinese, Mongolian or Tibetan lambskins; subheading 4302.19.6000, HTSUSA, covers undyed lambskins; and subheading 4302.19.7500, HTSUSA, covers dyed lambskins. There is no provision at the subheading level specifically for slink skins. However, some of the imported skins are "Broadtail" type skins and therefore are arguably classifiable under the provision for Broadtail lambskins of subheading 4302.13.0000.

The Explanatory Notes, while not legally binding, constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. The Explanatory Note (EN) to heading 4302 discusses furskins generally but does not address lambskins specifically. However, EN 43.01, 618, in discussing the coverage of heading 4301 states in pertinent part that:

This heading covers the raw (i.e., not tanned or dressed) skins with the hair or wool on, of all animals except the following...

(c) Sheep and lambs (other than Astrakhan, Broadtail, Caracul, Persian or similar lambs, and Indian, Chinese, Mongolian or Tibetan lambs).

The names Astrakhan, Broadtail, Caracul, and Persian are used loosely for similar kinds of lambs. However, these terms, when used in relation to furs, denote different qualities of furs, depending upon, for example, the age of the lamb.

Although not explicitly stated in the Explanatory Notes, Customs considers it likely that the names "Astrakhan, Broadtail, Caracul and Persian" were intended to have the same meaning in heading 4302, i.e., that they denote different qualities of fur, depending upon factors such as the age of the lamb. However, we express no opinion in this regard. Nevertheless, to the extent that the names "Astrakhan, Broadtail, etc." in heading 4302 refer to factors such as age, it could be argued that slink lambskins are embraced by subheading 4302.13.0000.

Part 301, Federal Trade Commission Regulations (16 CFR 301), implements the requirements of the Fur Products Labeling Act, 15 U.S.C. 69. Specifically, 16 CFR 301.8 provides:

(a) The term "Persian Lamb" may be used to describe the skin of the young lamb of the Karakul breed of sheep or top-cross breed of such sheep, having hair formed in knuckled curls.

(b) The term "Broadtail Lamb" may be used to describe the skin of the prematurely born, stillborn, or very young lamb of the Karakul breed of sheep or top-cross breed of such sheep, having flat light-weight fur with a moire pattern.

(c) The term "Persian-broadtail Lamb" may be used to describe the skin of the very young lamb of the Karakul breed of sheep or top-cross breed of such sheep, having hair formed in flattened knuckled curls with a moire pattern.

(d) The terms "Persian Lamb", "Broadtail Lamb", or "Persian-broadtail Lamb" shall not be used to describe: (1) The so-called Krimmer, Besarabian, Rumanian, Shiraz, Salzfelle, Metis, Dubar, Meshed, Caracul, Iranian, Iraqi, Chinese, Mongolian, Chekiang, or Indian lamb skins, unless such skins conform with the requirements set out in paragraph (a), (b), or (c) of this section respectively: or (2) any other lamb skins having hair in a wavy or open curl pattern. (Emphasis added).

Furthermore, the Regulations provide in pertinent part at 19 CFR 301.10:

The term "Broadtail-processed Lamb" may be used to describe the skin of a lamb which has been sheared, leaving a moire hair pattern on the pelt having the appearance of the true fur pattern of "Broadtail Lamb ....

Thus for labeling purposes, the FTC Regulations provide that lambskins other than those of the Karakul type may be designated by the term "Broadtail-processed lamb," so long as they have been sheared so as to confer upon the skin the true fur pattern of the Broadtail lamb.

Nevertheless, for classification purposes, it is Customs' view that the provision for Broadtail lambskins of subheading 4302.13.0000, HTSUSA, contemplates the inclusion only of similar kinds of lambs, i.e., lambs of the Karakul type. According to Bachrach, Fur: A Practical Treatise, 461 (1946), the term "Karakul" is a zoological designation for all sheep of the Astrakhan, Broadtail, Caracul and Persian breeds. Consequently, as the Broadtail special finish or Broadtail processed lambskins are not of the Karakul type but have only been cut to resemble the fur pattern of Broadtail lambs, the special finish cuttings are not classifiable under subheading 4302.13.0000, HTSUSA.

Moreover, while the term "Broadtail" may be used loosely for lambs of the Karakul species, slinks may derive from a number of different species. Indeed, in your letter of October 22, 1990, you state with regard to an advertisement for a New Zealand slink producer excerpted from The New Zealand Farmer (contained in your submission of October 22, 1990), that:

When dealing with the slink skins there is no way to identify which breeds are mixed into a particular lot. The advertisement I enclosed will show that to some extent. If you will note the first three photos at the upper left hand side you will see the mounds of carcuses (sic) that are dealt with. Into any of the piles are thrown the carcus (sic) of whatever lamb has been killed with no attention paid at all to breed.

Again, in your letter of June 20, 1990, you state that:

After the skins are removed they are graded in the raw state according to size and skin quality, points which are in no way related to the breed.

Segregation of one breed from another at this point (where they are commingled) would not only involve excessive cost but would most likely be impossible. The same would apply at the tanners level or the finished goods manufacturer's level. It is doubtful that even the most experienced person could separate the skins of three week old (or less) lambs into breeds.

It is Customs' understanding, after consultation with the Office of Laboratories and Scientific Services, that the age of a lambskin and the species of animal from which it was obtained can only be established by microscopic examination. Consequently, as it is the commercial practice to commingle slink skins from numerous species, we are of the opinion that pursuant to GRIs 1 and 6, the skins in question are not covered by the terms of subheading 4302.13.0000, since they may derive from any number of different species and are not confined to those enumerated in the subheading.

Since the slink skins in question are not classifiable according to species, they are classifiable under a residual provision (4302.19) dependent upon whether they are dyed or undyed. However, in accordance with General Note 5, HTSUSA, if dyed and undyed slink skins, which are dutiable at different rates of duty, are so packed together or mingled upon importation that Customs cannot readily determine the quantity or value of the merchandise without physical segregation, by sampling or by verification of packing lists or other documents filed at the time of entry, the goods will be dutiable at the highest rate applicable to any part of the shipment. Provided that the quantity of dyed and undyed skins is clearly indicated on the invoices, purchase orders, or other documentation submitted at the time of entry, the skins in question would not considered to be commingled.


The slink lambskins at issue are classifiable, if dyed, in subheading 4302.19.7500, HTSUSA, under the provision for tanned or dressed furskins..., whole skins, with or without head, tail or paws, not assembled, other, other, dyed, and are dutiable at the rate of 2.4 percent ad valorem.

If undyed, the skins are classifiable in subheading 4302.19.6000, HTSUSA, under the provision for tanned or dressed furskins..., whole skins, with or without head, tail or paws, not assembled, other, other, not dyed, and are dutiable at the rate of 5 percent ad valorem.

If dyed and undyed slink lambskins are commingled the provisions of General Note 5(a) will apply and the goods will be subject to the highest rate of duty applicable to the merchandise.

Pursuant to section 177.9, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 177.9), NYRL 838593 dated April 11, 1989, is modified in conformity with the foregoing.

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.


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