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HQ 951234

March 11, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 951234 ALS


TARIFF NO.: 9615.11.40

Mrs. Denise M. Shelton
Traffic Manager
1935 Tubeway
City of Commerce, CA 90040-1612

RE: Plastic Headbands with Teeth; Modification of Preclassification Ruling 857223, dated November 5, 1990

Dear Mrs. Shelton:

In the subject preclassification ruling our New York Area Office advised you that plastic headbands with teeth were to be classified as combs under subheading 9615.11.3000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). We have recently had occasion to review that ruling in connection with the issuance of a ruling on another plastic headband with teeth and have concluded that the prior classification was incorrect. Our decision follows:


The articles under consideration are plastic headbands which are curved in the shape of a horseshoe with an open end. Each headband has rows of mini-teeth along the underside of its crown. The shape of the headband gives it a spring characteristic which holds it to the wearer's head and holds the wearer's hair in place.


Is a plastic headband with teeth classifiable as a comb in subheading 9615.11.30, HTSUSA, or as a hair ornament in subheading 9615.11.40, HTSUSA?


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) taken in order. GRI 1 provides that the classification is determined first in accordance with the terms of the heading and any relative section and chapter notes. If GRI 1 fails to classify the goods and if the heading and legal notes do not otherwise require the remaining GRI's are applied taken in order.

In this case we have an agreement as to the appropriate subheading at the 6 digit level. It is agreed that the article under consideration is classifiable in subheading 9615.11, HTSUSA, whether it is considered a comb or a hair ornament. There, however, is a question as to the classification of the headband at the appropriate subheading at the 8 digit level. Two alternative subheadings are presented - subheading 9615.11.30, HTSUSA, if the article is considered a comb and subheading 9615.11.40, HTSUSA, if the article is considered a hair ornament.

In considering this matter we note that these items were considered combs under the Tariff Schedules of the United States Annotated (TSUSA). This classification was based on headnote 2, Subpart A, of Schedule 7 which provided that "the term combs means toothed instruments having not over two rows of teeth, for adjusting, cleaning, or confining hair, or for personal adornment." Based on that headnote, merchandise such as the headband under consideration was considered a comb, as noted in Headquarters Ruling Letter 043379, dated January 22, 1976.

In considering provisions in the HTSUSA, we note that there is no provision comparable to the aforementioned headnote. The HTSUSA appears to be straightforward, the headband is either a comb or a hair ornament. The heading, which covers both of these items, heading 9615, provides for combs, hair-slides and the like, etc. A comma separates the term comb from the term hair-
slides. While this would indicate that these are 2 different items, a definition of each of these terms is not provided in the tariff nor is the term headband included therein or in the Explanatory Notes, which represents the view of the classification experts at the international level. In order to ascertain the meaning of the term hair-slide, which is a British term, and whether our term headband refers to the same article, we consulted "The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary", Oxford University Press, 1987. Unfortunately, while the term "hair-slide" appears in that publication, no definition is provided therefor.

We next consulted with HM Customs and Excise (UK Customs). The article under consideration was described to the Customs officer in the Tariff and Statistical Office in charge of Chapter 96 of the United Kingdom Tariff (Harmonized System). He advised us that the article described resembles an "Alice-band", a spring plastic band which extends from ear to ear over the crown of the head used to hold hair back from the face. He noted that these items which have small teeth on the underside are what they call a "hair-slide." He also noted that they may be used to either hold hair in place or for decorative purposes and that the presence or absence or teeth did not alter the inclusion of this article under the term "hair-slide."

Based on the information received from HM Customs and Excise as to the meaning of the term hair-slide, we are convinced that it is the British term for what we call a headband and that both terms cover the article under consideration. We note that the term hair-slide, as used by UK Customs, while not binding on this Service, is distinguishable from the term comb. We also note that this distinction between a comb and a hair-slide or headband is maintained by heading 9615, which as previously noted, separates combs and hair-slides.

In light of the above information, the manner in which heading 9615 is drafted, the fact that the English used in the Harmonized System is British English and the absence of any heading or legal notes dictating otherwise, we believe that the item is properly classifiable as a hair ornament.


Plastic headbands which are worn over the crown of the head and are designed to hold the hair of the wearer in place are
classifiable in subheading 9615.11.40, HTSUSA, whether or not such headbands have teeth on their undersides to permit them to perform that function. The applicable general rate of duty is 5.3 per cent ad valorem.

Preclassification decision PC 857223 is modified accordingly.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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