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HQ 955738

March 30, 1994
CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 955738 KCC


TARIFF NO.: 6802.99.00

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

RE: Protest 1704-93-100518; stone product; geological designation; HRL 085266; EN 25.15; serpentine; marble;

Dear District Director:

This is in response to Protest 1704-93-100518, which pertains to the tariff classification of stone products under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).


The articles under consideration are stone products described as "dark and medium green marble." Upon importation, the entry of the stone products was liquidated on December 3, 1993, under subheading 6802.99.00, HTSUS, as other stone.

This determination was based on Customs laboratory report #4-94-20028-001 dated November 1, 1993, which found that the "3/4 inch green marble slab" was made of serpentine and was not an agglomerated stone. The serpentine stone was further described as having "maximum dimension of 17.1 x 13.3 x 1.7 centimeters," the "top surface and one edge are polished while two other edges are sawn" and the "bevels present range from 0.0354 inch to 0.0472 inch."

In a protest timely filed on December 3, 1993, the protestant contends that the stone is marble and, therefore, is properly classified under subheading 6802.91.05, HTSUS, as marble slabs. As evidence that the stone is marble, the protestant states that the Taiwanese Government has determined, for export purposes, that the stone is marble listed in the Taiwan Tariff Rate Schedule as "Marble and Serpentine," under 6802.91.00. The protestant claims that the U.S. Customs Service should abide by the country of origin's ruling on goods shipped, since they are the actual producer and supplier of the product.

The competing subheadings are as follows:

6802 Worked monumental or building stone (except slate) and articles thereof, other than goods of heading 6801; mosaic cubes and the like, of natural stone (including slate), whether or not on a backing; artificially colored granules, chippings and powder, of natural stone including slate)....

6802.91.05 Other...Marble, travertine and alabaster...Marble...Slabs.

6802.99.00 Other...Other stone.


Are the stone products classified under heading 6802, HTSUS, as marble or as serpentine?


Merchandise imported into the United States is classified pursuant to the HTSUS, not pursuant to the country of origin's classification for export purposes. Therefore, a export tariff classification based on the Taiwan Tariff Rate Schedule is irrelevant for determining the tariff classification and duty rate for merchandise imported into the United States.

Under the Tariff Schedule of the United States (TSUS) (the precursor tariff schedule to the HTSUS), stones were often classified by their trade names whether or not they met the geological definition of the stone. However, under the HTSUS, whose basic provisions are common to the tariffs of all the nations using the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HCDCS), it is imperative that the United States, whenever possible, define the various tariff terms in a manner consistent with all nations utilizing the HTSUS. It is for this reason that we have settled upon the commonly-accepted geological definition of various stones to determine the proper classification under the HTSUS.

Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 085266, dated September 9, 1989, dealt with the classification of tiles that were invoiced as marble. A laboratory analysis determined that the tiles were geological limestone, not geological marble. Since limestone and marble are distinct stones with different geological properties, HRL 085266 held that polished limestone was not classifiable as marble in subheading 6802.91, HTSUS. Rather, it was classifiable in subheading 6802.92, HTSUS, which provides for "Worked monumental or building stone (except slate) and articles thereof...Other...Other calcareous stone." Therefore, despite the fact that polished limestone is often referred to as "marble" in the trade, it was the geological definition that was used in determining the tariff classification of the tiles under the HTSUS.

There are other stones that are classified under the HTSUS by their geological definition rather than the trade definition. Ecaussine is considered to be granite in the trade; however, it is not classified as granite under the HTSUS. The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes ((ENs) of the HCDCS) constitute the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level. EN 25.15 (pg. 191), states that heading 2525, HTSUS, provides for marble, travertine, ecaussine and other calcareous monumental or building stone. EN 25.15 provides that "on fracture ecaussine shows a granular surface similar to granite and is therefore sometimes known as 'Belgian granite', 'flanders granite' or 'petit granite'." However, granite is provided for under heading 2516, HTSUS, which provides for inter alia, granite.

In the instant case, the Customs laboratory report has revealed that the stone products are geological serpentine. According to HRL 085266 and the ENs, stones are classified based on their geological makeup. Since geological serpentine is a different stone than geological marble, the stone cannot be classified as entered by the protestant. The stone products are properly classified under subheading 6802.99.00, HTSUS, as other stones."


The geological definition is used in determining the proper tariff classification of stones under the HTSUS. Therefore, the stone products are classified under subheading 6802.99.00, HTSUS, as other stones."

The protest should be DENIED. In accordance with Section 3A(11)(b) of Customs Directive 099 3550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, this decision should be mailed, with the Customs Form 19, by your office to the protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry in accordance with the decision must be accomplished prior to mailing of the decision. Sixty days from the date of the decision the Office of Regulations and Rulings will take steps to make the decision available to Customs personnel via the Customs Rulings Module in ACS and the public via the Diskette Subscription Service, Lexis, Freedom of Information Act, and other public access channels.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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