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HQ 085410

January 4, 1990

CLA-1 CO:R:C:G 085410 KWM


TARIFF: 6810.19.1000, 6810.19.5000

Mr. John M. Peterson
Neville, Peterson & Williams
39 Broadway
New York, New York 10006

RE: Request for reconsideration of HQ 084172, stone building components
Your reference: 211-01

Dear Mr. Peterson,

We have received your request for reconsideration of Headquarters Ruling 084172, regarding the classification of stone building components. Upon careful consideration of your submission, we have determined that the ruling is correct, and will not be modified or revoked by this office.


The facts are set out in HQ 084172, and will not be repeated in detail here. Essentially, your request for reconsideration disputes our determination that the smaller building components, measuring 12 inches square, were "tiles" as that term is used in heading 6810.19.1000 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (hereinafter "HTSUSA"). Your original request referred to these articles as "tiles" used for flooring. However, in your reconsideration request, dated August 27, 1989, you assert that the term "tiles" as used in 6810.19.1000, HTSUSA, is limited to "small articles having the facial or surface area of less than 25.8 square cm.". That assertion is based on a reading of the Chapter 68 Chapter Notes, and an inference concerning the references therein to the use of the terms "slab" and "tile".


Are the smaller building components classifiable in 6810.19.1000, HTSUSA, as "floor and wall tiles", or in 6810.19.5000, HTSUSA, as "other articles of artificial stone"?


The terms of heading 6810, HTSUSA, read, in pertinent part:

6810 - Articles of cement, of concrete or of artificial stone, whether or not reinforced:
Tiles, flagstones, bricks and similar articles:
6810.11 Building blocks and bricks................

6810.19 Other:
6810.19.1000 Floor and wall tiles.................


(Emphasis added). The Section and Chapter Notes, which constitute the legally binding interpretation of the HTSUSA, contain the following Additional U.S. Notes:

1. For the purposes of heading 6802, the term "slabs" embraces flat stone pieces, not over 5.1 cm. in thickness, having a facial area of 25.8 cm2 or more, the edges of which have not been beveled, rounded or otherwise processed except such processing as may be needed to facilitate installation as tiling or veneering in building construction.

2. For the purposes of heading 6810, the term "tiles" does not include any article 3.2 cm or more in thickness.

The Explanatory Notes, which are not legally binding, do not significantly address the subheadings in question.

The analysis in your reconsideration request is premised on the assumption that the Additional U.S. Notes to Chapter 68, taken together, draw a clearly defined distinction between "slabs" and "tiles" as those terms are used in the chapter. That distinction is one based on an inference that the inclusion of surface area dimensions for "slabs" thereby, expressio unius, defines the surface area dimensions for "tiles". It is the opinion of this office that such a negative inference cannot be drawn from the Additional U.S. Notes.

We note that the terms "slabs" and "tiles" occur throughout Chapter 68, and that a reading of the headings, Legal Notes and Explanatory Notes in pari materia, leads to the conclusion that the terms have particular meanings, which are determined by the context of their use. Furthermore, those meanings are not distinctly opposite throughout the chapter, or in a consistent manner. For example, although you assert that, in all headings of Chapter 68, HTSUSA, "tiles" must, by negative inference, be articles with a surface area less than 28.5 cm2, the term "tiles" is specifically defined in heading 6802.10.0000, as an article:

. . . the largest surface area of which is capable of being enclosed in a square the side of which is less than 7 cm . . .

Such articles would have a surface area less than 49 cm2, considerably larger than the suggested 28.5 cm2.

As noted, we agree that the terms of Chapter 68, and indeed the entire tariff schedule, must be considered in pari materia, and that all the terms of the schedule must have meaning. However, we are of the opinion that the Additional U.S. Notes apply only to the tariff heading to which the notes, by their terms, refer. Despite your contention to the contrary, the drafters of the HTSUSA clearly manifested their intent to restrict the definitions of the terms "slab" and "tile" by referring to a specific heading in each note. It is our opinion that a rigid, uniform application of a "tile" or "slab" definition throughout the chapter was not, and is not, contemplated by the Nomenclature.

Additional U.S. Note 1 begins: "for the purposes of heading 6802 . . .". In heading 6802, HTSUSA, the term "slabs" is used as a subheading under the basket provision for "Other" worked monumental or building stone. It does not occur elsewhere in the heading. A careful reading of the U.S. Note, and a comparison of the subheadings at the same (8-digit) level clearly shows that the distinction to be made between "slabs" of heading 6802.91.05, HTSUSA, and "other" articles of 6802.91.15, HTSUSA, is that of the degree of working or processing to which the articles have been subjected. Such a distinction, based on the degree of work performed, is further evidenced by the terms of other subheadings under 6802, HTSUSA (See, e.g., subheading 6802.91.20, HTSUSA). The result is that "slabs", as defined in Additional U.S. Note 1, are classified separately from monumental or building stone which has been subjected to substantial working or processing. There is no need for a tile/slab dichotomy in heading 6802, HTSUSA, since the term "tile" is defined specifically in the context of its use, as noted above.

Additional U.S. Note 2 begins: "For the purpose of heading 6810. . .", expressly addressing itself to the use of the term "tile" in that heading. It does not, in our opinion, provide a definitive description of "tiles" for use in all headings of the chapter. Notes in other areas of the Nomenclature which apply throughout a chapter state explicitly that they are to be applied "[F]or the purposes of this chapter. . ." (see, e.g., Additional U.S. Note 1, Chapter 39, HTSUSA). The context in which the term is used in heading 6810 also makes it clear that thickness is the principal distinguishing factor among the heading and subheading classifications. "Tiles" are distinguishable from the other articles specifically classified in heading 6810, such as "bricks" or "blocks", on the basis of thickness.

We note that, under a strict application of the provisions of Additional U.S. Note 2, all of the products included in your original request could be classified under 6810.19.10, HTSUSA, and dutiable at 21% ad valorem. However, having read Chapter 68 and the accompanying Notes in pari materia, we are of the opinion that the term "tiles" does not encompass articles which are so large that they cannot rationally be considered "tiles". It was in this light that we compared the large building components to the "slabs" of heading 6802, and found them to be ejusdem generis. We did not, as your letter suggests, purport to make the concept of "slabs" in heading 6802, HTSUSA, "applicable with equal force to the classification of 'artificial stone' articles in HTS 6810". Our intent was simply to illustrate that larger articles are contemplated by the Nomenclature. In terms of heading 6810, those types of articles are properly classified as items "other" than tiles.

We did not, nor do we now, intend to specify precise dimensions or surface areas which will define "tiles" and "other" articles for the purposes of heading 6810, HTSUSA, other than those found in the relevant Legal Notes. In our opinion, the principal use of the term "tile(s)" in the stone or similar industries, is in reference to products having sides which measure up to 18 inches. Again, we are not prescribing absolute limits or dimensions in this regard. However, given these general guidelines, it is clear that articles such as the small building components addressed in your original request would be considered a "tile" in the stone trade, and they are classified as such.


We affirm Headquarters Ruling Letter 084172, classifying stone building components composed of marble or stone chips agglomerated with plastic resins.

The large sized components, measuring 11 feet by 4 feet, and having a thickness of + inch, are classified in subheading 6810.19.5000, HTSUSA, and are dutiable at the rate of 4.9% ad valorem.

The small sized components, measuring 12 inches by 12 inches, and having a thickness of + inch, are classified as "tiles" as that term is used in subheading 6810.19.1000, HTSUSA, and are dutiable at the rate of 21% ad valorem.


John Durant, Director

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