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HQ 089449

February 10, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 089449 HP


TARIFF NO.: 6306.22.9030

Ms. Kathleen M. Haage
Area Director
U.S. Customs Service
Airport International Plaza
Newark International Airport
Newark, NJ 07114

RE: Request for Internal Advice Number 25/91. Screen house. Cabin tent. made up; plastics; textiles; Gore-Tex ; essential character; GRI 1.

Dear Ms. Haage:

This is in reply to your memorandum of April 18, 1991, requesting internal advice on the tariff classification of a screen/cabin tent imported from Taiwan. Please reference your file CLA-1-01-N:TB CF.


The merchandise at issue consists of 15' x 9' two-room screen/cabin tent, Style 4663, Nelson/Weather-Rite, Inc. One room forms a 9' x 6' screen house which provides an insect-free area for eating, playing, and relaxing. The 9' x 9' second, or cabin room constitutes the sleeping and private dressing area. The roof of the structure and the walls of the cabin area are made of woven polyethylene strips covered on both sides with a visible plastics coating. The sides of the screen house portion and three large windows of the cabin area are made of polyethyl ene screening in the form of a textile mesh. The windows have a closable plastic covering. The structure is supported by means of a zinc-coated steel framework and poles with chain cords. There is a floor in the cabin area, made of the same material as the roof. All of the components, along with plastic stakes, are packed inside a storage/carrying bag.

It is the position of the internal advice applicant, per counsel Barnes, Richardson & Colburn, that the walls, roof, floor and room divider impart the essential character of the article, and that the article should be classified as an article of plastics.


Whether the screen/cabin tent is an article of textiles or plastics under the HTSUSA?


Heading 6306, HTSUSA, provides for tents. The Explanatory Notes to this heading define tents as follows:

Tents are shelters made of lightweight to fairly heavy fabrics of man-made fibres, cotton or blended textile materials, whether or not coated, covered or laminated, or of canvas. They usually have a single or double roof and sides or walls (single or double), which permit the formation of an enclosure. The heading covers tents of various sizes and shapes, e.g., marquees and tents for military, camping (including back pack tents), circus, beach use. They are classified in this heading, whether or not they are presented complete with their tent poles, tent pegs, guy ropes or other accessories.

Note 1 to Chapter 63, HTSUSA, states that heading 6306 applies only to made up articles of textile fabrics. The screen house/cabin tent consists of three components. First, woven polyethylene strips covered on both sides with a visible plastics coating and making up the roof, cabin floor, and cabin walls. This plastic/textile combination is classifiable in Chapter 39, HTSUSA, since (1) the textile fabric is entirely coated on both sides with plastics, and (2) that plastics coating is visible to the naked eye. See Note 1(h) to Section XI, HTSUSA, and Note 2 to Chapter 59, HTSUSA. The other components of the screen house/cabin tent are the polyethylene screening that is con sidered a textile, and the steel poles, which are classified under, as indicated above, the provision for tents in Chapter 63, HTSUSA.

The General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs) to the HTSUSA govern the classification of goods in the tariff schedule. GRI 1 states, in pertinent part, that "... classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any rela tive section or chapter notes ..." Goods which cannot be classi fied in accordance with GRI 1 are to be classified in accordance with subsequent GRIs, taken in order. Note 1(h) to Section XI, HTSUSA, excludes from classification therein articles of Chapter 39. Note 2(l) to Chapter 39, HTSUSA, excludes from classifica tion therein goods of Section XI. Counsel has implied that, in order to ascertain whether the instant merchandise is an "article of Chapter 39" or a "good of Section XI," one must determine the essential character (by means of GRI 3) of the tent. Counsel has cited HRL 083789 of March 31, 1988, in support of this argument.

HRL 083789 held neither the side screening nor the nonwoven plastic-coated roof imparted the essential character, under GRI 3(b), of a screen house. Accord HRL 084819 of October 5, 1989 (adopting essential character analysis of HRL 083789). These rulings, however, were incorrect to the extent that they specifi cally introduced GRI 3 at the legal note level as the basis for determining whether the Chapter 63, Note 1 limitation for made-up articles, "of any textile fabric," (and the Note 1(h) to Section XI exclusion of articles of Chapter 39, HTSUSA), included the subject screen houses. Subsequent GRIs cannot be used to modify the intended coverage of a Section or Chapter Note. It is only after merchandise is classified in accordance with these Notes that the remaining GRIs are consulted. See HRL 085550 of December 8, 1989 (modifying HRL 083789); see also the Explanatory Note to Chapter 39, HTSUSA (stating that classification of textile/plastics combinations is essentially governed by Note 1(h) to Section XI, HTSUSA).

It has been suggested that Customs recent Federal Register publication, Classification of Garments Composed in Part of Linings or Interlinings of Specialized Fabrics or Nonwoven Insulating Layers, 56 Fed. Reg. 46372 (September 12, 1991) (hereinafter "Gore-Tex Notice") requires application of GRI 3 to determine whether the instant article is a "good of Section XI, HTSUSA. This is incorrect. The Gore-Tex Notice held that garments composed in part of specialized fabrics or nonwovens should be classified on the basis of that component of the garment which imparted the essential character under GRI 3(b). Application of GRI 3, however, was mandated by relevant legal Notes to Section XI, HTSUSA. These Notes, which apply to either textile goods of Chapters 50 to 55 (or headings 5809 or 5902) or articles of two or more textile materials (the tent is composed of only one textile material), are not applicable to the tent at issue.

As a result of the above-stated rationale, we are left with an amalgam of plastic and textile which is simultaneously exclud ed from the respective plastic (if an article "of textiles") and textile (if an article "of plastic") divisions of the tariff schedule. In addition, neither the HTSUSA nor the Explanatory Notes aid us in determining what is meant by "of textiles." In our previous screen house rulings, we held that if the textile portion imparted a significant characteristic to the tent, the tent would consequently be deemed a textile article. This finding was based in part upon General Note 7(e) to the HTSUSA, which defined, inter alia, "in part of" or "containing" as containing "a significant quantity of the named material." Emphasis added. Since an article "of textiles" clearly contains at least as much textile as an article "in part of" textiles, and less than an article "wholly of" textiles, a textile portion which imparts a significant characteristic must therefore be of a significant quantity.

We are now modifying this rationale. Since the term "of", as it is used in the legal notes, is not specifically defined in the tariff schedule or its accompanying Explanatory Notes, it is our opinion that reference to the subsequent GRIs is appropriate to determine the intent of the drafters. Therefore, in an analysis of whether an article is "of" a particular material, that material which imparts upon the good its essential character is the material of which the article is constructed.

GRI 3 states, in pertinent part:

When by application of Rule 2(b) [goods of more than one material or substance] or for any other reason, goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings, classification shall be effected as follows:

(b) Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale, which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a) [which requires that goods be classified, if possible, under the more specific of the competing provisions], shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential charac ter, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

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. Explanatory Note (IX) to GRI 3 pro vides:

For the purposes of [GRI 3(b)], composite goods made up of different components shall be taken to mean not only those in which the components are attached to each other to form a practically inseparable whole but also those with separable components, provided these components are adapted to one another and are mutually complementary and that together they form a whole which would not normally be offered for sale in separate parts.

[C]lassification [of sets and of composite goods] is made according to the component, or components taken together, which can be regarded as conferring on the set as a whole its essential character.

The factors which determine essential character of an article will vary from case to case. It may be the nature of the materials or the components, its bulk, quantity, weight, value, or the role a material plays in relation to the use of the goods. In general, essential character has been construed to mean the attribute which strongly marks or serves to distinguish what an article is; that which is indispensable to the structure or condition of an article.

According to Counsel's letter of March 12, 1991, the textile portion of the tent represents 9% of the value of the entire tent; by contrast, the plastics/textile combination portion represents 26% of the tent's value. The textile portion weighs 0.50 kilogram, while the plastics/textile combination weighs 12.7 times more, at 6.35 kilograms. The textile portion covers 17,807.08" squared, while the plastics/textile combination covers 2.65 times more area, at 47,142.87" squared. The figures for the steel poles (the poles are not taken into account, per the EN to heading 6306) are not given.

Although the figures submitted by Counsel show that a substantial proportion of the tent's value, weight and area are taken up by the plastics coated woven polyethylene strips, a meaningful amount of the tent is still made from textiles. In addition, the textile portion of the tent (the screening) extends the living area, keeps out insects, provides some protection against the elements, and allows maximum air circulation. The plastics/textile portion provides additional protection from the weather.

An essential character analysis is not intended to be a mere "numbers game", but, as we stated above, must focus upon "what an article is; that which is indispensable to the structure or condition of an article." Both the plastic and textile portions are extremely important in the use of the tent. Both serve to distinguish what the article is: a primarily plastic cabin tent combined with a primarily textile screen house. It is our opinion, therefore, that neither the textile nor the plastic impart the essential character of this article.

GRI 3(c) states that when "[g]oods cannot be classified in accordance with the above rules[, such goods] shall be classified under the heading which occurs last in numerical order among those which equally merit consideration." As the headings of Section XI, HTSUSA, appear after those of Chapter 39, HTSUSA, classification within the former is appropriate.

Subheading 6306.22, HTSUSA, provides for tents of synthetic fibers. Subheading 6306.29, HTSUSA, provides for tents of other textile materials. The latter subheading does not merit consid eration, because the plastics/textile combination is not consid ered a textile for classification purposes under the HTSUSA. Classification under subheading 6306.22 is therefore required.

For statistical reporting purposes, subheading 6306.22.9010, HTSUSA, provides for screen houses of synthetic fibers. The subject tent is a screen house combined with a cabin tent, and is therefore not classifiable as a mere screen house.


As a result of the foregoing, the instant merchandise is classified under subheading 6306.22.9030, HTSUSA, textile catego ry 669, as tarpaulins, awnings and sunblinds; tents; sails for boats, sailboards or landcraft; camping goods, tents, of synthet ic fibers, other, other. The applicable rate of duty is 10 percent ad valorem.

The designated textile and apparel category may be subdivid ed 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 the internal advice applicant 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 any 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, the internal advice applicant should contact any local Customs office prior to importing the merchandise to determine the current status of any import re straints or requirements.


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