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HQ 950269

December 27, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 950269 HP


TARIFF NO.: 6211.33.0060

Mr. Asher Glauber
G & Quality Clothing, Inc.
165 Division Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11211

RE: HRL 088473 revoked. Prayer kaftan not intended to be used as protection against weather not classifiable as coat. Yarmul- kes; religious articles; garments.

Dear Mr. Glauber:

This is in reply to your letter of April 10, 1991. That letter concerned the tariff classification, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), of a prayer kaftan, produced in Hungary.


The merchandise at issue consists of a long sleeve, slightly longer than knee length, black overcoat with a full front open- ing, a collar, and lapels. The exterior satin-like shell is made of woven polyester-like fabric, and the lining is made from woven rayon fabric. On the right front panel there are three fabric covered buttons and three buttonholes; on the left front panel there is a buttonhole that corresponds to both the top fabric covered button and another button on the inside of the right front panel. Each sleeve has two decorative fabric covered buttons near its opening. There is a single inside fabric breast pocket and two exterior inserted pockets in the rear of the garment.

The garment is worn by Hasidic Jewish men during religious services on the Sabbath. Since these men are prohibited from carrying anything in their hands in public, the garment is worn while walking to and from the synagogue.

In HRL 088473 PR of March 21, 1991, we classified this garment under heading 6201, HTSUSA, as a men's overcoat. You disagree, claiming that since the garment is only by necessity worn outside, rather than carried in the hands, it should be classified as a robe.


Whether the prayer kaftan is considered a religious article not classifiable as apparel under the 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 classified in accordance with GRI 1 are to be classified in accordance with subsequent GRIs, taken in order.

Heading 6201, HTSUSA, provides for, inter alia, men's or boys' overcoats, carcoats, capes, cloaks and similar coats. 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 6101, HTSUSA, which apply, mutatis mutandis, to the articles of heading 6201, states that

[t]his heading covers a category of ... garments for men or boys, characterised by the fact that they are generally worn over all other clothing for protection against the weather.

WEBSTER'S II NEW RIVERSIDE UNIVERSITY DICTIONARY (1984), at 217, defines "caftans" (variant of Kaftan) as "[a] full-length, longsleeved, often loose-fitting tunic worn chiefly in the Near East." You state that while the prayer kaftans are designed similarly, and while circumstances necessitate the wearing of the prayer kaftan on the street, "it is most definitely not worn as an overcoat." You have included, as an attempt to clear up any misunderstandings from your first ruling request, a letter from the Council of Jewish Organizations of Boro Park. In describing the use of the prayer kaftan, Rabbi Bernard Freilich definitively states that "[i]t is ... never worn without an overcoat and certainly never meant to used as one, even in inclement weather, to provide additional warmth." Emphasis added.

The prayer kaftan is clearly not intended to be used for protection against the weather; indeed, wearing the kaftan during those hot days of summer yields the antithesis of protection. It would appear from Rabbi Freilich's letter that to consciously profit from any ancillary warming features while wearing the prayer kaftan to and from synagogue would violate the spirit of Orthodox Jewish faith. Based in part on your additional submis- sions, it is our opinion that the prayer kaftan was incorrectly classified as a coat. HRL 088473 is therefore revoked.

In HRL 088473, we noted that "yarmulkes, which, like the instant merchandise, are worn solely for religious purposes, [and are] classifiable [as] headwear." See HRL 038858 of May 1, 1975 (TSUS). That ruling is distinguishable from the instant matter. Assuming the yarmulkes would also be classified as headgear under the HTSUSA, wherein the Explanatory Notes for overcoats and similar garments recognizes that such garments are "characterised

by the fact that they are generally worn over all other clothing for protection against the weather," the General Explanatory Notes to Chapter 65, HTSUSA, states that "this Chapter covers ... hats and other headgear of all kinds, irrespective of the materi- als of which they are made and of their intended use (daily wear, theatre, disguise, protection, etc.)." Emphasis added.

In HRL 088473, we noted that "since there is no provision for religious articles of the type here involved, the competing provisions are the heading for coats [(which we have disquali- fied)] versus the headings for other made up articles." This was also incorrect. Heading 6211, HTSUSA, provides for, inter alia, other garments. The Explanatory Notes to heading 6114, which apply, mutatis mutandis, to the other garments provisions of this heading, states:

This heading covers ... garments which are not included more specifically in the preceding headings of this Chapter.

The heading includes, inter alia:

(2) Clerical or ecclesiastical garments and vestments (e.g., monks' habits, cassocks
[(a long garment reaching to the feet and worn by the clergy and some lay- persons assisting in church services)], copes [(a long ecclesiastical vestment worn by clerics over the alb (a liturgi- cal vestment consisting of a long white linen robe with tapered sleeves) or surplice (infra))], soutanes [(a cassock
(supra) worn by a Roman Catholic priest)], surplices [(a loose-fitting white gown with wide sleeves, worn over a cassock (supra) by some clerics)].

There is no requirement that "other garments" of heading 6211, HTSUSA, be used for protection against the weather. It is our opinion that even though the prayer kaftan could not be classi- fied as a coat, is clearly still a garment, and should be classi- fied herein.

Finally, you state that the belt that was classified with the prayer kaftan in HRL 088473 was not submitted for classifica- tion, but was sent merely to demonstrate how the prayer kaftan is used at services. The belt is "sold separately by different retailers." Since you are not importing the prayer kaftan and belt together to be put up as a set for retail sale, you may disregard that analysis from your original ruling.


As a result of the foregoing, the instant merchandise is classified under subheading 6211.33.0060, textile category 659, as track suits, ski-suits and swimwear; other garments, other garments, men's or boys', of man-made fibers, other. The appli- cable rate of duty is 17 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 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.

In order to insure uniformity in Customs classification of this merchandise and eliminate uncertainty, we are revoking HRL 088473 to reflect the above classification effective with the date of this letter. However, if you disagree with the legal basis for our decision, we invite you to submit, either for yourself or on behalf of your client, any arguments you might have with respect to this matter for our review. Any submission you wish to make should be received within 30 days of the date of this letter.

This notice to you should therefore be considered a revoca- tion of HRL 088473 of March 21, 1991, under 19 C.F.R. 177.9(d)(1) (1989). It is not to be applied retroactively to HRL 088473 (19 C.F.R. 177.9(d)(2) (1989)) and will not, therefore, affect the transaction for the importation of your merchandise under that ruling. However, for the purposes of future transac- tions in merchandise of this type, including that for which the present classification is requested, HRL 088473 will not be valid precedent. We recognize that pending transactions may be ad- versely affected by this revocation in that current contracts for importations arriving at a port subsequent to the release of HRL 950269 will be classified under the new ruling. If such a situation arises, you may, at your discretion, notify this office and apply for relief from the binding effects of the new ruling as may be dictated by the circumstances. However, please be advised that in some instances involving import restraints, such relief may require separate approvals from other government agencies.

A copy of this ruling letter should be attached to the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If the documents have been filed without a copy, this ruling should be brought to the attention of the Customs officer handling the transaction.

A copy of this ruling letter should be attached to the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If the documents have been filed without a copy, this ruling should be brought to the attention of the Customs officer handling the transaction.



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