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HQ 950192

April 23, 1993

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 950192 jb


TARIFF NO.: 6110.20.2075; 6106.10.0010

District Director
U.S. Customs Service
U.S. Customhouse
1 East Bay Street
Savannah, GA 31401

RE: Decision on Application for Further Review of Protest No. 1704-91-100086; proper classification in heading 6110, HTSUSA and, heading 6106, HTSUSA; consideration of conspicuous and inconspicuous features in classifying garments as similar to T-shirts

Dear Sir:

This is a decision on application for further review of a protest timely filed on behalf of Cleasby Manufacturing Co. Inc., on March 19, 1991, against your decision regarding the classification of cotton knit garments. All entries were liquidated on December 21, 1991.


The merchandise at issue consists of two styles of cotton knit upper body garments for women, imported from Israel. Style number 05000 is described as a T-shirt type garment with short sleeves, hemmed cuffs, a hemmed bottom and a crew neck design. It is referred to as oversized, based on the dimensions of the armholes and the fact that the sleeves are not close fitting. The garment also has shoulder pads secured by means of hook and loop strips, and a patch pocket at the chest.

Style number 05001 is also a short-sleeved upper body garment with hemmed sleeves and a hemmed bottom, detachable shoulder straps and a patch pocket. However, this style has a V-neck design with a partial opening secured by two buttons. The importer states that both garments are made of a lightweight knit fabric measuring approximately 26 stitches per two centimeters. No samples were provided to this office.

These garments were classified and liquidated in subheading 6110.20.2075, HTSUSA, which provides for sweaters, pullovers, sweatshirts, waistcoats and similar items. The importer contends that Style numbers 05000 and 05001 are unlike the garments of heading 6110, HTSUSA, and that proper classification of the garments is in heading 6109, HTSUSA and, 6106, HTSUSA, respectively.


Whether removable shoulder pads and oversized features preclude classification of these garments as T-shirts or similar to T-shirts in heading 6109, HTSUSA, or shirts and shirt-blouses in heading 6106, HTSUSA, respectively, or whether classification in heading 6110, HTSUSA, is appropriate?


Classification of merchandise under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 requires that classification be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, taken in order. Where goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, the remaining GRI will be applied, in the order of their appearance.

Heading 6109, HTSUSA, provides for, among other things, T-shirts and garments similar to T-shirts. The Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (EN) define T-shirts as:
lightweight knitted or crocheted garments of the vest type, of cotton or man-made fibre, not napped, nor or pile or terry fabric, in one or more colours, with or without pockets, with long or short close-fitting sleeves, without buttons or other fastenings, without collar, without opening in the neckline, having a close-fitting or lower neckline (round, square, boat-shaped or V-shaped). These garments may have decoration, other than lace, in the form of advertising, pictures or an inscription in words, obtained by printing, knitting or other process. The bottom of these garments, usually hemmed, is never made with a ribbed waistband, drawstring or other means of tightening.

Emphasis added.

The Textile Category Guidelines, CIE 13/88, dated November 23, 1988 (Guidelines), similarly define T-shirts as:
constructed of the underwear type and from lightweight, knit underwear-type fabric, not napped, nor of pile or terry fabric, with or without pockets, and with long or short close-fitting sleeves. The garments should have a close- fitting or lower neckline (round, square, boat-shaped or V-shaped) and may have decoration, other than lace, in the form of pictures, words, or letters, obtained by printing, knitting or other processes. The bottom of the garment is usually hemmed. A ribbed waistband, a drawstring, or other tightening at the waist is not allowed. Buttons or other fastenings, openings in the neckline, and collars, are not allowed. Emphasis added.

As we were not provided with samples, our analysis is based on the observations of the Customs Import Specialist who examined the garments. Based on those observations, Style number 05000 is stated to have, in addition to traditional T-shirt features, sleeves which are not close fitting, shoulder pads, and oversized armholes. Both the EN to heading 6109, HTSUSA, and the Guidelines are clear in defining in explicit terms that in order for a garment to be considered a T-shirt, it must have close- fitting sleeves.

In classifying garments there are certain considerations which assist in the determination of a T-shirt or similar to T- shirt classification. These are as follows:


The garment must have all the required features (as per the EN and Guidelines), i.e., lightweight knit or crocheted fabric, of cotton or man-made fabric, close-fitting sleeves, and close-fitting or lower neckline. The garment cannot consist of napped, pile or terry fabric, it cannot have buttons or other fastenings, or a collar, and the bottom of the garment cannot be made with a ribbed waistband, drawstring or other means of tightening.

To qualify as similar to a T-shirt, the article must have traditional T-shirt features and no more than two inconspicuous features:

Similar to T-shirt:

1. one inconspicuous feature- e.g. shoulder pads 2. two inconspicuous features- e.g. shoulder pads and embroidery
3. three inconspicuous features or even one conspicuous feature (as in this case, sleeves which are not close-fitting) precludes classification as similar to T-shirt

The fact that Style number 05000 is stated as having sleeves which are not close fitting, is a conspicuous feature which precludes its classification in heading 6109, HTSUSA.

Heading 6106, HTSUSA, provides for women's or girls' blouses, shirts and shirt blouses. The EN to heading 6106, HTSUSA, state:

This heading does not cover garments with pockets below the waist, with a ribbed waistband or other means of tightening at the bottom of the garment or garments having an average of less than 10 stitches per linear centimetre in each direction counted on an area measuring at least 10 cm x 10 cm (see Chapter Note 4)

The Guidelines, also define the stitch count of blouses as having:
an average of 10 or more stitches per linear centimeter in each direction, counted on an area measuring at least 10 centimeters by 10 centimeters.

Style number 05001 is described as having approximately 26 stitches per two centimeters. No specific breakdown of these measurements is provided, that is, stitches per linear centimeter in each direction, horizontal and vertical. Upon subsequent inspection by a Customs Import Specialist who had the sample available at that time, the garment was found to have met the requisite stitch count in both directions to warrant classification in heading 6106, HTSUSA. Accordingly, the article was improperly classified in heading 6110, HTSUSA.


The garment referred to as Style number 05000 was properly classified in subheading 6110.20.2075, HTSUSA, which provided for women's or girls' sweaters, pullovers, sweatshirts, waistcoats (vests) and similar articles, knitted or crocheted, of cotton, other. The applicable rate of duty for that subheading in 1989, when the articles were imported from Israel, was 5.3 percent ad valorem with a 339 quota category.

Upon further examination the garment referred to as Style 05001 was determined to have been improperly classified in heading 6110, HTSUSA. The proper classification of the garment is in subheading 6106.10.0010, HTSUSA, which provides for women's cotton knitted shirts, blouses or shirtblouses. As merchandise classifiable within heading 6106, HTSUSA, was subject to the U.S.-Israel Free Trade Agreement, these goods are accorded duty- free treatment. The quota category is 339.

The protest should be granted only in part, that is, only as it applies to Style 05001. A copy of this ruling should be appended to the Form 19 Notice of Action and furnished to the protestant.


John Durant, Director

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