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HQ 950037

October 29, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 950037 PR


Mr. Vito A. Pipitone
John F. Kilroy Co., Inc.
One World Trade Center
New York, New York 10048

RE: Country of Origin of a Jewish Religious Garment

Dear Mr. Pipitone:

This is in reply to your letter of June 19, 1991, on behalf of Neatzit Inc., concerning the classification and country of origin of a Jewish religious garment. Our ruling on the matter follows.


The articles to be imported are slightly longer than waist length, V-neck, knit, cotton pullovers. The front and back panels are not attached at the sides (from the armpit area downward). However, on each open side there is a single metal snap which allows the front and back panels to be connected, thus making the garment form-fitting. There are four wool tassels that have been inserted through premade holes, one at each of the lower corners of each panel.

The garments with the four tassel holes, but without the tassels, will be made in China and exported to Israel. There the tassels will be inserted into the premade holes and knotted. The garments will then be exported to the United States.

The imported garments, which you state are known as tallit katans or arba kanfoths, are prayer shawls which are incomplete and unusable for their intended purpose without the tassels (tzitzit).


The issues presented are (1) whether the subject merchandise is a product of China or a product of Israel for tariff purposes, and (2) how is the merchandise classified in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA).


Country of Origin

Section 12.130, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 12.130), provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

(b) Country of origin. For the purpose of this section * * * a textile or textile product, subject to section 204, which consists of materials produced or derived from, or processed in, more than one foreign territory or country, or insular possession of the U.S., shall be a product of that foreign territory or country, or insular possession where it last underwent a substantial transformation. A textile or textile product will be considered to have undergone a substantial transformation if it has been transformed by means of substantial manufacturing or processing operations into a new and different article of commerce.

(d) Criteria for determining country of origin. The criteria in paragraphs (d)(1) and (2) of this section shall be considered in determining the country of origin of imported merchandise. These criteria are not exhaustive. One or any combination of criteria may be determinative, and additional factors may be considered.

(1) A new and different article of commerce will usually result from a manufacturing or processing operation if there is a change in:
(i) Commercial designation or identity,
(ii) Fundamental character or
(iii) Commercial use.
(2) In determining whether merchandise has been subjected to substantial manufacturing or processing operations, the following will be considered: (i) The physical change in the material or article as a result of the manufacturing or processing operations in each foreign territory or country, or insular possession of the U.S.
(ii) The time involved in the manufacturing or processing operations in each foreign territory or country, or insular possession of the U.S.

(iii) The complexity of the manufacturing or processing operations in each foreign territory or country, or insular possession of the U.S.

(iv) The level or degree of skill and/or technology required in the manufacturing or processing operations in each foreign territory or country, or insular possession of the U.S.

(v) The value added to the article or material in each foreign territory or country, or insular possession of the U.S., compared to its value when imported into the U.S

In addition to Section 12.130, the United States-Israel Free Trade Area Implementation Act of 1985 (Act of 1985) (General Note 3(c)(vi)), Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) must be considered in determining whether the merchandise is eligible for the special tariff treatment accorded to products of Israel imported directly into the United States. Subsection (B)(1) of that note requires that merchandise is a product of Israel only if:

[E]ach article is the growth, product or manufacture of Israel or is a new or different article of commerce that has been grown, produced or manufactured in Israel.

In this instance, while the tassels may be necessary for the garments intended use as religious apparel, the identity of the garments is fixed with certainty in China. In their condition as imported into Israel, the garments are substantially complete and the processing done in that country is relatively minor in nature and does not change their essential character. Accordingly, the processing performed in Israel is insufficient to create a new or different article of commerce for purposes of the Act of 1985, or to convert them into products of Israel within the purview of 12.130, Customs Regulations. Since the merchandise has been manufactured in China and further processed in Israel, it must be accompanied by a multicountry declaration, the form for which is contained in 12.130(f)(2).


Imported goods are classifiable according to the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUSA). GRI 1 provides that for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings in the tariff and according to any pertinent section or chapter notes. This general rule is the only one which must be considered in order to classify the instant merchandise.

The submitted sample is a garment. Its religious significance and use does not negate that fact. In Customs Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 038858, dated May 1, 1975, Customs ruled that yarmulkes, which, like the instant merchandise, are worn solely for religious purposes, were nevertheless classifiable under the provisions for headwear. See also HRL 082753, dated March 16, 1989, which classified a clerical shirt under provisions for apparel; and HRL 088473, dated March 21, 1991, classifying an overcoat intended exclusively for praying, but used to get to and from the synagogue, under a heading for coats.

Although made of T-shirt material, the sample, because of the open sides and lack of sleeves, is clearly not a T-shirt. Likewise, while referred to as a prayer shawl, the garment is clearly not a shawl. Albeit it is worn under outer clothing, the garment is not known commercially as underwear. Our information is that this merchandise is not regarded as underwear in the Jewish community and that it is worn in conjunction with normal underwear. In addition, the tassels are intended to be seen, thus, in our view, further negating classification of these garments as underwear.

The provisions for tops in the HTSUSA cover a variety of nonenumerated upper body garments and we believe that the instant merchandise falls within the grouping of merchandise classifiable under those provisions.


Merchandise represented by the submitted sample with the tassels attached is a product of China for duty, marking, and textile restraint purposes and is classifiable under the provision for men's or boys' cotton knit tops, in subheading 6114.20.0005, HTSUSA. The rate of duty applicable to this merchandise, is 11.5 percent ad valorem and the textile and apparel category applicable to this merchandise is 338.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the restraint (quota/visa) categories applicable to textile merchandise, you should contact your local Customs office prior to importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.

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.


John Durant, Director

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