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HQ 953937

December 17, 1993

CO:R:C:T 953937 SK


TARIFF NO.: 3921.90.1500

Arturo E. Dominguez
ADCO International Trade Services
1015 Juarez, ste.110
Laredo, TX 78040

RE: Classification of coated fabric; Legal Note 2(a)(1)(3) to Chapter 59; heading 3921.90.1500, HTSUSA; coating visible if separable from underlying fabric.

Dear Mr. Dominguez:

This is in response to your letter of April 6, 1993, on behalf of AG Covers, requesting a binding classification ruling for woven coated fabric. A sample was submitted to this office for examination.


The subject material is used to manufacture tarpaulins. It is a woven fabric of polyethylene textile strip laminated on both sides with a chalk-white pigmented film of polyethylene plastic. Samples of the subject material were submitted to the Customs laboratory. The white pigmented plastic coating was found to be 1.5 mil thick (approximately 38 microns) on one side and 1.7 mil thick (approximately 43 microns) on the other side. The fabric has a yarn count of 14 x 15 and is made with 1,594.0 denier yarns (strips of 5404.90). The fabric weighs 247.2 grams per square meter and has a total thickness of 18.3 mil. The strips have an apparent width of approximately 1.5 mm, which appears consistent throughout the fabric. These strips have been multifolded from a clear film some 5mm or wider. The film itself has striations on the surface and folding such a film unto itself rapidly reduces the transparent quality and the folded strip becomes less transparent and more translucent, but never opaque.


Whether the coating on the subject fabric is visible to the naked eye so as to warrant classification as a coated fabric of heading 3921, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (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 in accordance with the terms of the headings and any relevant section or chapter notes. Where goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI's may be applied in the order of their appearance.

Chapter 59 of the Tariff Schedule provides for impregnated, coated, covered or laminated textile fabrics. Chapter Note 2(a)(3) to this section excludes products in which the textile fabric is coated or covered on both sides with plastic; such products are classifiable within Chapter 39 provided that such coating or covering can be seen with the naked eye with no account being taken of any resulting change of colour.

Heading 3921, HTSUSA, covers other plates, sheets, film, foil and strip, of plastics. As noted supra, Chapter 39 applies only to those textile fabrics that are coated on both sides with plastics and where the plastic coating is discernable to the naked eye. If, upon unaided visual examination, there is the suggestion of the presence of plastic coating, it is then within Customs' discretion to examine the fabric under magnification. See HRL 082644 of March 2, 1990.

The sole criterion upon which Customs is to determine whether fabric is coated for purposes of classification under heading 3921, HTSUSA, is based on visibility: fabric is coated and is classifiable in Chapter 39 if the plastic coating is visible to the naked eye. This standard does not allow the examiner to take the "effects" of plastic into account. Plastic coating will often result in a change of color, or increase a fabric's stiffness; these are factors which, while indicative of the presence of plastic, may not be taken into account in determining whether the plastic itself is visible to the naked eye.

In the instant analysis, it is apparent upon examination of the subject fabric that it is visibly coated on both sides with plastic. The chalk-white translucent plastic laminate is easily separated, by hand, from the underlying woven polyethylene strip, and visibility is based on this factor. As the fabric is coated on both sides, and such coating is visible to the naked eye, it is this office's opinion that the fabric is properly classifiable within heading 3921, HTSUSA.


The fabric at issue is classifiable under subheading 3921.90.1500, HTSUSA, which provides for "other plates, sheets, film, foil and strip, of plastics: other: combined with textile materials and weighing not more than 1.492 kilograms per square meter: products with textile components in which man-made fibers predominate by weight over any other single textile fiber: other... ," dutiable at a rate of 8.5 percent ad valorem. The textile quota category is 229.

The designated textile and apparel categories may be subdivided into parts. If so, the visa and quota requirements applicable to the subject merchandise may be affected. Since part categories are the result of international bilateral agreements which are subject to frequent renegotiations and changes, to obtain the most current information available we suggest you check, close to the time of shipment, the Status Report on Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), an internal issuance of the U.S. Customs Service which is updated weekly and is available for inspection at your local Customs office.

Due to the nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the restraint (quota/visa) categories, you should contact your local Customs office prior to importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.

All future requests for binding classification rulings concerning plastic coated fabrics should be accompanied by samples of the subject fabric in both its coated and uncoated states.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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