United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 1991 HQ Rulings > HQ 0088234 - HQ 0088312 > HQ 0088289

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

HQ 088289

February 11, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 088289 CMR


TARIFF NO.: 6101.20.0010, 6101.30.2010

Richard H. Abbey, Esq.
Mudge Rose Guthrie Alexander & Ferdon
2121 K Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20037

RE: Reconsideration of HRL 085023 of October 19, 1989--classifi- cation of sweatjackets as jackets of heading 6101, HTSUSA

Dear Mr. Abbey:

This ruling is in reply to your letter of January 18, 1991, in which you request that a ruling be issued in response to your November 7, 1989, submission. That submission was made on behalf of your client, Generation One Apparel, Inc., requesting reconsideration of HRL 085023 of October 19, 1989. In the October ruling, Customs Headquarters upheld NYRL 839556 of May 11, 1989, which classified the garments at issue as garments similar to windbreakers in heading 6101, HTSUSA.


The garments at issue are sweatshirt jackets. The first sample is a man's jacket constructed of 72 percent cotton, 14 percent polyester, and 14 percent rayon finely knit fabric which is napped on the inside surface. The garment has a full front opening with a nylon zipper closure, long sleeves with rib knit cuffs, a rib knit waistband, a hood with a drawstring closure, and slant-opening, handwarmer pockets at the waist. The jacket will be imported from Romania.

The second sample is a man's fully-lined jacket made with an outer shell of 100 percent acrylic finely knit fabric and a lining of 55 percent cotton and 45 percent polyester thermal knit fabric. The garment has a full front opening with a heavy-duty metal zipper closure, long sleeves with rib knit cuffs, a rib knit waistband, a hood with a drawstring closure, and slant- opening, handwarmer pockets at the waist. The jacket will be imported from the People's Republic of China.

Classification of the garments as sweatshirts or garments similar to sweatshirts under heading 6110, HTSUSA, is being sought.


Are the garments at issue classifiable as garments similar to windbreakers under heading 6101, HTSUSA, or as sweatshirts or garments similar to sweatshirts under heading 6110, HTSUSA?


Classification of products under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 provides that "classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, provided such headings or notes do not otherwise require, according to [the remaining GRIs taken in order]."

Heading 6101, HTSUSA, provides for "men's or boys' overcoats, carcoats, capes, cloaks, anoraks (including ski- jackets), windbreakers and similar articles, knitted or crocheted, other than those of heading 6103". Heading 6110, HTSUSA, provides for "sweaters, pullovers, sweatshirts, waistcoats (vests) and similar articles, knitted or crocheted".

It should be noted that the conversion of the TSUS into the nomenclature format of the Harmonized System included certain textual adaptations at the four and six digit levels. These adjustments were introduced in an effort to bring the international text into conformity with the U.S. terminology. Headings 6101 and 6110 were included among those tariff provisions deemed to require minor changes. Specifically, the term windbreakers was inserted in 6101 in place of the terms wind-cheaters and wind-jackets. Heading 6110 was changed by the insertion of the term sweatshirts and deletion of the terms jerseys and cardigans.

The United States, as a party to the International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, done at Brussels on 14 June 1983, is obligated by Article 3(1)(a)(ii) to "not modify the scope of the Sections, Chapters, headings or subheadings of the Harmonized System." Article 3(2) allows for textual adaptations, as necessary, to give effect to the Harmonized System in domestic law.

The term sweatshirt was inserted into heading 6110 in an attempt to Americanize the language of the heading and simplify the classification of sweatshirts and sweatshirt-type garments. The term sweatshirt was present in the Tariff Schedules of the United States Annotated (TSUSA) at the statistical level under
the heading for shirts. The Guidelines for the Reporting of Imported Products in Various Textile and Apparel Categories, CIE 13/88, (hereinafter referred to as the Textile Category Guidelines), at pages 11-14, contains descriptions of various garments classified as shirts, including sweatshirts. The meaning of the term sweatshirt was limited under the TSUSA to pullover garments. The Customs Service established a practice of recognizing only pullover-type garments of sweatshirt fabric as sweatshirts.

Notes from a 1981 meeting at the United States International Trade Commission (ITC), in which the intended coverage of heading 6110 was discussed, indicate that at that time it was contemplated that traditional sweatshirts would be included as pullover garments under heading 6110. Customs has been unable to find, nor have we been presented with, any information to indicate that the meaning of the term sweatshirt as it was used under the TSUSA should be, or was intended to be, broadened under the HTSUSA to include garments other than pullovers. In fact, the aforementioned notes would appear to indicate the contrary. When the term sweatshirt was inserted into heading 6110, the meaning of the term for tariff purposes did not change.

You contend that if Customs will not classify these garments as sweatshirts, it should classify them as similar to sweat- shirts under 6110. You have made several assertions in your submissions to promote your position. We will attempt to address each point according it the attention it merits.

In your submission of November 7, 1989, you submit that in referencing and relying upon the Textile Category Guidelines as a basis for HRL 085023, the drafters of the ruling did what HRL 082943 of November 19, 1989, counseled against which was to determine the applicable textile category and then find a classification provision which fit the category. We submit the Textile Category Guidelines were not the basis for the ruling. The Guidelines were cited as support for making a distinction between sweatshirts and garments made of sweatshirt fabric with full-front zipper openings. The Guidelines serve to illustrate a long-standing administrative practice to distinguish between these garments.

You submit that following the rationale of HRL 082943, these garments must be classified as similar to sweatshirts. HRL 082943 dealt with a completely different issue and product. It addressed the classification of garments which commonly and commercially are recognized as sweaters, but fail the stitch requirements of Statistical Note 3 of Chapter 61. That memorandum addressed the issue of classifying an article first at the heading level and then working down to the appropriate subheading and then statistical classification. Its purpose was
to stress that a statistical note could not be used to eliminate an article at the heading level. That is not a problem in this instance. Furthermore, the sample at issue in HRL 082943 was examined for characteristics in construction, styling and manner in which it is worn, in order to determine its correct classifi- cation. Those elements were also taken into consideration in the classification of the subject garments.

The fabric used for making the subject garments is the same type of fabric used for making sweatshirts. The garments have some similarities in construction beyond the fabric used such as rib knit cuffs and waistbands. However, you submit there is no difference in the manner in which the garments at issue and sweatshirts are worn and used. We disagree.

While it is true that pullover sweatshirts are sometimes worn over other shirts for added warmth, that does not mean they are worn in the same manner or for the same reasons as the subject garments. Sweatshirts remain pullover garments which are often worn against the skin and sometimes worn over other garments. However, the garments at issue are worn in the manner of jackets. They can be easily put on and removed or worn with the zipper front open as the wearer's comfort dictates. They are usually not worn next to the skin, but over other garments.

As to the Explanatory Notes for headings 6101 and 6110, respectively, these notes were not ignored. You would appear to read the phrase "protection against the weather" as meaning protection beyond protection from the cold. Were we to interpret this phrase as narrowly as you would suggest, garments which are clearly included in heading 6101 would be excluded simply because their main purpose is to provide protection against the cold, i.e. added warmth, e.g. overcoats, capes, cloaks, etc.. The decision to classify a garment in 6101 versus 6110 is based on the characteristics of the garment and how it is worn and used, and not on its ability to provide the wearer with benefits beyond warmth.

The advertising and buyers' statements submitted with your brief have been considered. However, the Customs National Import Specialist in New York who deals with this merchandise has found advertisements of virtually identical merchandise in which the garments are advertised as jackets, not as sweatshirts. This illustrates that these garments are advertised as both sweatshirts and as jackets and therefore, we find the submitted advertisements unpersuasive.

Finally, you expressed a belief that long-standing princi- ples of classification were disregarded in the classification of the subject garments. This is not the case.

As you stated in your original submission of April 11, 1989, an "eo nomine designation, 'without limitation or a shown contrary legislative intent, judicial decision, or administrative practice to the contrary, and without proof of commercial designation, will include all forms of said article.' Nootka Packing Company v. United States, 22 CCPA 464, 470, T.D. 47464 (1935)." It would appear on the surface, relying on the principle of eo nomine classification and on the language of heading 6110 which includes "sweatshirts . . . and similar articles," that the garments at issue would fall under heading 6110. However, there is and has been an administrative practice to distinguish garments made of sweatshirt fabric with full-front zipper openings from pullover-type garments of sweatshirt fabric.

Garments which are considered similar to sweatshirts include the variations on the traditional sweatshirt, such as, partial front zipper, hooded sweatshirt, drawstring at waist, etc.. Garments with full-front zipper openings are not considered similar to sweatshirts, but are jackets. They are worn in the manner of lightweight jackets and have some characteristics of lightweight jackets such as the full-front zipper, the rib knit cuffs and waistband, and the pockets at or below the waist. The Customs Service has a practice of recognizing these garments as jackets and from the evidence submitted by the National Import Specialist in New York, the trade, at least some of it, also recognizes these garments as jackets.

The Customs Service believes that in inserting the term sweatshirt in heading 6110, it was intended that only pullover- type sweatshirts of the traditional sweatshirt variety be classified in the heading. This belief is based on the meaning of the term in the United States tariff schedule at the time, the notes from the meeting at ITC referred to earlier, and the administrative practice in existence at the time and which has been continued since the adoption of the HTSUSA. Nothing in the language of the HTSUSA or the Explanatory Notes indicates the garments at issue should be classified in heading 6110 rather than heading 6101. In fact, the Customs Service believes that by including the subject garments in heading 6110, we would, in effect, be broadening the scope of that heading.


For the reasons stated above, the garments at issue are classified as similar to windbreakers in heading 6101, HTSUSA. The classification decision in HRL 085023 of October 19, 1989, is affirmed.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: