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 0088313 - HQ 0088380 > HQ 0088369

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

HQ 088369

March 8, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 088369 HP


TARIFF NO.: 6211.43.0060

Ms. Beth C. Brotman
Siegel, Mandell & Davidson, P.C.
One Whitehall Street
New York, NY 10004

RE: Shoulder straps exclude tops from being considered blouses.

Dear Ms. Brotman:

This is in reply to your letter of November 6, 1990, concerning the tariff classification of women's woven tops, produced in either Sri Lanka, Turkey and/or the Dominican Republic, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). Please reference your client Miss Erika.


The merchandise at issue consists of three styles of women's woven tops, described by you as follows:

Styles 6295R, 6751 and 2215 are women's tank tops of woven, 100% rayon fabric. Each tank features a scoop neckline in the front, oversize armholes, shoulder straps which measure either 1 "
(style no. 2215) or 1 ", (style nos. 6295R and 6751), and rounded, hemmed bottom edges. Style no. 6295R has an embroidered decorative emblem at the center front of the garment, while style nos. 6751 and
2215 have embroidered overlays at the center front of the neckline.

We also note that the garments extend below the waist, feature no sleeves, and have front and rear panel which extend upward and taper at the shoulders where they are joined.


Whether the instant garments are classifiable as blouses under the HTSUSA?


Heading 6206, HTSUSA, provides for blouses. The

Explanatory Notes (EN) to the HTSUSA constitute the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level. While not legally binding, they do represent the considered views of classification experts of the Harmonized System Committee. It has therefore been the practice of the Customs Service to follow, whenever possible, the terms of the Explanatory Notes when interpreting the HTSUSA. The EN to heading 6206 states:

This heading covers the group of women's or girls' clothing, not knitted or crocheted, which comprises blouses, shirts and shirt-blouses.

The General EN to Chapter 62, HTSUSA, defines shirts and shirt-blouses as:

... designed to cover the upper part of the body, having long or short sleeves and a full or partial opening starting at the neckline. Blouses are also designed to cover the upper part of the body but may be sleeveless and without an opening at the neckline.

The Customs Service periodically issues the Guidelines for the Reporting of Imported Products in Various Textile and Apparel Categories. The Guidelines, most recently published at 53 Fed. Reg. 52563 (Dec. 28, 1988), CIE 13/88 (Nov. 23, 1988), note that since certain types of garments are closely related in use, the Guidelines "are to be used as an aid in determining the commercial designation and, hence, the classification of an article." Used as such, they "represent the present position of the Customs Service."

The Guidelines, at 25, provide:

Blouses are outer garments usually extending from the neck or shoulders to the vicinity of the waistline. However, included in the category are overblouses and similar garments which may extend to the mid-thigh area or below, and which are frequently slit up the leg. Blouses may have a collar treatment or no collar. *** [T]he garment may even be without closure as in a pullover.

Outerwear garments known as camisoles, bandeaus and similar garments which may be described as tops, are excluded from this category.

In HRL 087034 HP of July 31, 1990, we undertook the classification of merchandise comparable to the instant samples, in that the garment was also bolstered by shoulder straps. We held that the extremely limited shoulder coverage afforded by the straps disqualified these garments as blouses, and that they were classifiable under subheading 6211.43.0090, HTSUSA, as women's other garments.

In HRL 087530 CMR of November 9, 1990, we stated

The garment at issue is styled as a tank top. It is similar to garments classified in HQ 087034 [supra] of July 31, 1990.
Those garments, described as camisole-type garments, were classified in heading 6211, HTSUSA, which provides for other garments. Classification as blouses of heading 6206, HTSUSA, was rejected. The presence of straps on the garments and limited shoulder coverage precluded classification of the garments as blouses. This garment is recognizable as a tank top and if it were of knit construction it would be classifiable as such, not as a blouse, without dispute. The fact the garment is of woven fabric, not knit, should not be the basis for classifying it as a blouse.

It has been suggested that the presence of shoulder straps is insufficient to disqualify a garment from the blouse heading of the HTSUSA. We disagree. It is well accepted that to classify a garment as a blouse, the garment must provide ample shoulder coverage; i.e., from the neckline to the arm. Shoulder straps, in our opinion, do not afford this aegis. Ergo, tops supported by straps cannot be classified as blouses.

In HRL 088171 CMR of February 27, 1991, Customs stated:

[s]ince the garments at issue are made of 100 percent woven rayon fabric, they are classifiable under subheading
6211.43.00, HTSUSA, as other garments of man-made fibers. Various statistical annotations appear under subheading
6211.43.00, HTSUSA. The statistical annotation are present primarily for the collection of data with respect to goods imported into the United States. This data information [sic.] is utilized in the process of negotiating our bilateral textile agreements. The statistical annotation, 6211.43.0060, which reads
"Blouses, shirts and shirt-blouses excluded from heading 6206", is intended to capture certain upper body garments excluded from heading 6206 including garments such as the one at issue here.
While the language of the statistical annotation would appear to conflict with our determination that for tariff purposes this garment is not a blouse, the language at the statistical level is provided as a convenience and as we point out in rulings, the statistical annotations are subject to change. Based upon the intended coverage of the textile category number which appears at the statistical annotation as expressed to Customs by the Committee for the Implementation of
Textile Agreements, the subject garment is classified in the statistical annotation for "Blouses, shirts and shirt-blouses excluded from heading 6206". We anticipate a change in the language of the statistical annotation to eliminate the apparent conflict which has arisen in this case.


As a result of the foregoing, the instant merchandise is classified under subheading 6211.43.0060, HTSUSA, textile category 641, as women's other garments of man-made fibers. The applicable rate of duty is 17 percent ad valorem.

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 negotiations 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.

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 importing the merchandise
to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: