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HQ 950496

March 5, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 950496 CC


TARIFF NO.: 6307.20.0000

Armin Korst
P.O. Box 3755
Newport, RI 02840

RE: Classification of a buoyancy vest; classifiable in Heading 6307

Dear Mr. Korst:

This letter is in response to your inquiry of October 3, 1991, requesting the tariff classification of a "buoyancy vest." A sample was submitted for examination.


The submitted merchandise is a sleeveless, waist-length jacket made of a woven nylon fabric. It has two airtight sections which are filled with closed-cell, foam panels approximately -inch thick. The jacket has a front closure consisting of Velcro-like straps and buckle. A buckle closure on the back of the vest permits the vest to be attached to a harness used by a windsurfer.

You state that this article is a lightweight personal flotation vest designed primarily for windsurfers. A warning label indicates that the vest should not be considered a safety vest or life preserver and should not be worn by anyone who cannot swim since the buoyancy factor is not sufficient to float a conscious or unconscious person in a "face out of water position." Despite this warning, the vest is capable of providing a degree of buoyancy sufficient to keep a person who has fallen in a body of water afloat.


Whether the submitted merchandise is classifiable in Heading 6211 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), 6217, 6307, or 9506, HTSUSA?


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's), taken in order. GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes.

Heading 9506, HTSUSA, provides for, among other articles, articles and equipment for gymnastics, athletics and other sports. Note 1(e) to Chapter 95, HTSUSA, excludes sports clothing of textiles of chapter 61 or 62 from classification in Chapter 95. The Explanatory Notes, the official interpretation of the HTSUSA at the international level, state at EN 95.06(B) that Heading 9506 covers requisites for other sports and outdoor games, e.g.:


(2) Water-skis, surf-boards, sailboards and other water-sport equipment, such as diving stages (platforms), chutes, divers' flippers and respiratory masks of a kind used without oxygen or compressed air bottles, and simple underwater breathing tubes (generally known as "snorkels") for swimmers or divers.


Although the Explanatory Notes contain a long list of articles that are classifiable in Heading 9506, life jackets or buoyancy vests are not specifically included, nor do they appear to be similar to the listed articles. Consequently, the submitted merchandise is not classifiable in Heading 9506.

Heading 6211, HTSUSA, provides for other garments. In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 088807, dated August 9, 1991, we stated the following concerning whether an article is classifiable as a garment:

... However, wearing apparel, which we believe to be synonymous with garments, has been defined by the courts to be articles worn by human beings for reasons of comfort, decency, or adornment, Antonio Pompeo v. United States, 40 Cust. Ct. 362, C.D. 2006 (1958), and includes "articles worn for protection against the elements and those worn for protection against more localized conditions prevailing in the environment of the home, workplace, school, or restaurant." Admiral Craft Equipment Corp. v. United States, 82 Cust. Ct. 162, C.D. 4796 (1979).

The submitted merchandise is not worn for comfort, decency, adornment, or protection. This merchandise, therefore, cannot be considered a garment and is not classifiable in Heading 6211.

Heading 6217, HTSUSA, provides for other made up clothing accessories. The Explanatory Notes state that Heading 6217 covers the following articles: dress shields; shoulder or other pads; belts of all kinds (including bandoliers) and sashes; muffs; sleeve protectors; sailors' collars; epaulettes, brassards, etc.; labels, badges, emblems, "flashes" and the like; frogs, lanyards, etc.; separately presented removable linings for raincoats and similar garments; pockets, sleeves, collars, collarettes, wimples, fallals of various kinds, bodice- fronts, jabots, cuffs, yokes, lapels and similar articles; and stockings, socks,and sockettes. The submitted merchandise is not specifically included with the listed articles, nor does it appear to be similar to any of them. The buoyancy vest is not a clothing accessory and, therefore, is not classifiable in Heading 6217.

Heading 6307, HTSUSA, provides for other made up articles. The Explanatory Notes state that Heading 6307 covers made up articles of any textile material which are not included more specifically in other headings of Section XI or elsewhere in the Nomenclature and includes life-jackets and life-belts (emphasis added).

The submitted merchandise is a made up article of textile material not more specifically provided for elsewhere in the Nomenclature; consequently, it is classifiable in Heading 6307. At the international level, subheading 6307.20 provides for lifejackets and lifebelts. The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, the Unabridged Edition (1983) defines the term "life jacket" as "a sleeveless jacket of buoyant or inflatable construction, for supporting the wearer in deep water and preventing him from drowning." The submitted jacket is capable of providing a degree of buoyancy sufficient to keep a person afloat. Although it does not meet the U.S. Coast Guard standards for life preservers, floating a conscious or unconscious person in a face out-of-water position, we find that the submitted merchandise meets the commonly accepted definition of a life jacket, and is therefore within the scope of the subheading at the international (6-digit) level of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule. Consequently for tariff classification purposes, the submitted merchandise is provided for under subheading 6307.20, HTSUSA.


The submitted merchandise is classified under subheading 6307.20.0000, HTSUSA, which provides for other made up articles, lifejackets and lifebelts. The rate of duty is 9 percent ad valorem. No textile category is currently assigned to merchandise classified under this subheading.


John Durant, Director

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