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HQ 088614

March 20, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 088614 PR


TARIFF NO.: 6204.62.2010

Mr. Tommy Lai
Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office
British Embassy
1233 20th Street, N.W., Suite 504
Washington, D.C. 20036

RE: Classification of Bib and Brace Overalls

Dear Mr. Lai:

This is in reply to your letter of February 4, 1991, on behalf of Esprit de Corp, concerning the classification certain women's garments that were imported at the port of San Francisco.


Two samples were submitted. Both are women's short legged overalls made of woven cotton fabric. The two garments are virtually identical except that one is made from a wide striped twill woven fabric and the other is made from a plain woven floral print fabric. The garments have three button fly fronts; three button partial side openings; a 9-inch high front bib attached to the garment with horizontal stitching at the waist and containing a large patch pocket; two rear patch pockets; two side seam inserted pockets with curved openings; adjustable over- the-shoulder straps which are attached to the front bib by two metal buttons; a hammer loop; and a rear bib which tapers upward approximately 3 inches higher than the front bib and which, at its upper portion, is approximately 5-inches wide.


The issue presented is whether the instant garments are classifiable under the provision for women's bib and brace overalls, of cotton, in subheading 6204.62.2010, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). 2


Heading 6204, HTSUSA, provides for women's and girls' bib and brace overalls. Webster's II New Riverside University Dictionary, 1984, defines "overalls" as follows:

Loose-fitting trousers with a bib front and shoulder straps, worn by themselves or over regular clothing as protection from dirt and wear. (at page 837)

The same dictionary defines "braces" as a chiefly British word for suspenders (at page 195) and "bib" as the part of overalls covering the chest (at page 169).

The Modern Textile and Apparel Dictionary, 1973, defines "overalls" as "A loose fitting trouser constructed with bib, pockets, and top straps." (at page 407) It also defines "bib overall" as follows:

This is an overall made with a cloth portion above the waistband in front designed to protect the upper clothing. The bib is held in place by suspenders over the shoulders. (at page 48)

Thus, it appears that the terms "bib and brace overalls", "bib overalls", and "overalls" all refer to the same type of garment.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, Explanatory Notes, which are the official interpretation of the HTSUSA at the international level (for the 4 digit headings and the 6 digit subheadings) state, at page 833, that the term "bib and brace overalls" means garments of the type illustrated, on page 834, and similar garments which do not cover the knee.

The five illustrations of garments vary only slightly from each other. Each has a high bib front with a large patch pocket in it's center; a waistband; straps which go over the shoulders; curved side inserted pockets below the waist; and two rear patch pockets. Two illustrated garments (Nos. 3 and 5) are the only pictured garments which have rear bibs and which do not have fly fronts. The rear bibs taper upward but not to a point, and the only noticeable difference between those two garments is that the two shoulder straps are apparently attached to the front bib by buttons in illustration No. 3, but not in No. 5.

It has been suggested that because of the sameness of the illustrations in the Explanatory Notes, Customs should rigidly adhere to those illustrations in determining whether garments are classifiable as "bib and brace overalls". First such an approach to the classification of articles under the HTSUSA has no valid legal basis. In T.D. 89-80, Customs stated that while the Explanatory Notes should be consulted in making classification determinations, they are not legally binding and should not be treated as dispositive.

Neither the legal notes nor the Explanatory Notes restrict the definition of the term "bib and brace overalls". In fact, the Explanatory Notes specifically refer to garments "of the type" illustrated therein. We believe that if it were intended that only the garments pictured would be considered overalls for tariff purposes, the words "of the type" would not have been used and a legal note would have been included to clarify what type of merchandise was intended to be classifiable under the provisions for bib and brace overalls.

Accordingly, absent a clear and reasonable description in the Explanatory Notes, which we do not find in this instance, Customs will apply the common and commercial meaning to that term. To do otherwise could result in arbitrary, inconsistent, and unrealistic results. What if imported garments are overalls in all respects except that they only have one rear pocket, or no chest pocket, or a rear bib and a fly front, or a combination of these features?

Secondly, this Headquarters has not previously adhered to such a stringent application of the Explanatory Notes in this area. In HRL 087063, dated June 19, 1990, it was held that an infant's garment with no pockets and with tapered shoulder straps was classifiable as overalls; and in HRL 087340, dated September 19, 1990, a size 3T short legged overall (shortall) with a slight rear bib rise was ruled to be classifiable as overalls. In these two rulings, and other rulings involving padded cold weather overalls (both from this office and nonbinding rulings issued by our Area Director, New York Seaport), no mention was made in the description of the garments of a defined waistline and our experience with children's and ski-type overalls is that a large proportion of them do not have either that feature or the pockets that are illustrated in the Explanatory Notes.


The submitted samples are, in our view, clearly within the purview of the Explanatory Notes definition of overalls--overalls that do not cover the knees. If the legs extended to the ankles, then these garments would be commonly and commercially identifiable as overalls. Their deviations from the illustrations in the Explanatory Notes is minor and, as indicated above, we do not interpret the Explanatory Notes as being so rigid that any deviation from the pictured garments will prevent classification as overalls. We believe that short-legged garments are classifiable under the subheadings for bib and brace overalls if they have a full front bib, over the shoulder straps, and would commonly and commercially be known as overalls if the legs extended to the ankle area.

The submitted samples are classifiable under the provision for women's cotton bib and brace overalls, in subheading 6204.62.2010, HTSUSA, with duty at the rate of 9.5 percent ad valorem. The designated textile and apparel category applicable to this merchandise is 359.

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 internal issuance of the U.S. Customs Service, which is available for inspection 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 applicability of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durant, Director

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