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HQ 954544

August 19, 1993

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 954544 HP


TARIFF NO.: 3926.90.7500

Ms. Bettie Jo Shearer
Manager, International Dept.
Wholesale Supply Co., Inc.
P.O. Box 24600
Nashville, TN 37202

RE: PC 974015 modified. Pneumatic air mattresses of plastic.

Dear Ms. Shearer:

This is in reply to your letter of May 21, 1993. That letter concerned the tariff classification, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), of air mattresses, produced in Taiwan.


The merchandise at issue consists of catalog numbers 45HK, a queen size air bed, and 69HQ, a double size air bed. Item 45HK measures 60" by 78" by 6", while 69HQ measures 54" by 74" by 6". Both have top sheets of 12 gauge 70 denier nylon bonded to 16 gauge vinyl. This bonding constitutes a "visible covering of plastics" for purposes of heading 5903, HTSUSA. The sides and bottoms are of 16 gauge PVC vinyl.

Originally, these items were to be of a flocked construction. Accordingly, in PC 974015 of May 20, 1992, these items were classified as pneumatic mattresses of other textile materials. You now state that the merchandise will not be flocked, and request a revised classification ruling.


Whether the unflocked air mattresses are classifiable as of textile or of plastics 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 such "classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes. . . ." Heading 3926, HTSUSA, provides for other articles of plastics, including pneumatic mattresses. Heading 6306, HTSUSA, provides for, inter alia, pneumatic mattresses of textiles which are considered camping goods. Heading 6307, HTSUSA, provides for other articles of textiles, including pneumatic mattresses not considered camping goods. Accordingly, we must first determine whether the mattresses at issue are considered of plastics or of textiles. If the latter, we must then determine whether they are considered camping goods.

Since the sides and bottoms of the mattresses are composed of polyvinyl chloride (classified in heading 3904), the mattresses are potentially classifiable as articles of plastics. Note 1 to Chapter 63, HTSUSA, states that sub-chapter I, in which headings 6306 and 6307 fall, "applies only to made up articles, of any textile fabric." Since the top sheets are considered fabrics of heading 5903, the mattresses are also potentially classifiable as articles of textiles.

Goods which cannot be classified in accordance with GRI 1 are to be classified in accordance with subsequent GRIs, taken in order. GRI 3 states, in pertinent part:

When by application of Rule 2(b) [goods of more than one material or substance] or for any other reason, goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings, classification shall be effected as follows:

(b) Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale, which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a) [which requires that goods be classified, if possible, under the more specific of the competing provisions], shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

The factors which determine essential character of an article will vary from case to case. It may be the nature of the materials or the components, its bulk, quantity, weight, value, or the role a material plays in relation to the use of the goods. In general, essential character has been construed to mean the attribute which strongly marks or serves to distinguish what an article is; that which is indispensable to the structure or condition of an article.
With respect to the air mattresses at issue, it is clear that they are "articles of plastics." The PVC plastic forms the entire mattress, with the nylon fabric added to the top surface for decorative and comfort purposes. Without the nylon, the merchandise would still be air mattresses. Classification as articles of plastics is correct, and we do not need to determine whether the mattresses are considered camping goods. PC 974015 is modified accordingly.


As a result of the foregoing, the instant merchandise is classified under subheading 3926.90.7500, HTSUSA, as pneumatic mattresses of plastics. The applicable rate of duty is 4.2 percent ad valorem.

In order to insure uniformity in Customs classification of this merchandise and eliminate uncertainty, we are modifying PC 974015 of May 20, 1992, pursuant to 19 C.F.R. 177.9(d)(1), to reflect the above classification effective with the date of this letter. This letter is not to be applied retroactively to PC 974015 (19 C.F.R. 177.9(d)(2)) and will not, therefore, affect the transaction for the importation of your merchandise under that ruling. However, for the purposes of future transactions in merchandise of this type, including that for which the present classification is requested, PC 974015 will not be valid precedent. We recognize that pending transactions may be adversely affected by this modification, in that current contracts for importations arriving at a port subsequent to the release of HRL 954544 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.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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