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HQ 954022

August 2, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 954022 jb


TARIFF NO.: 6109.10.0027

Politis, Pollack & Dorham
3255 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1688
Los Angeles, CA 90010

RE: Revocation of HQ 952370 and HQ 952371, dated September 22, 1992; proper classification of men's knit upper garments with long, close-fitting sleeves is in heading 6109, HTSUSA; similar to a T-shirt

Dear Mr. Pollack:

On September 22, 1992, we issued you HQ 952370, and HQ 952371, classifying men's 100 percent knit cotton upper body garments with long sleeves, in heading 6110, HTSUSA. Upon review, HQ 952370 and HQ 952371 are determined to be in error and are accordingly revoked.

Pursuant to section 625, Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1625), as amended by section 623 of Title VI (Customs Modernization) of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, Pub.L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 2057, 2186 (1993) (hereinafter section 625), notice of the proposed revocation of HQ 952370 and HQ 952371 was published on June 29, 1994, in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 28, Number 26.


The garments which were the subject of HQ 952370 and HQ 952371 were referred to as Styles 1111 and 1110, respectively. They are described as men's all-white, V-neck, upper body garments constructed from 100 percent cotton, finely knit jersey fabric. The garments feature a rib knit crew neckline, close-fitting hemmed long sleeves, and a hemmed bottom.

HQ 952370 and HQ 952371 classified the garments in subheading 6110.20.2065, HTSUSA, which provides for men's or boys' knitted pullovers of cotton, dutiable at a rate of 20.7 percent ad valorem and subject to quota category 338.


What is the proper classification for the long-sleeved upper body garments classified in HQ 952370 and HQ 952371?


Classification of merchandise under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is governed by 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.

The Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (EN) constitute the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level. The EN to heading 6109, HTSUSA, describe T-shirts as follows:

The term "T-shirts" means lightweight knitted or crocheted garments of the vest type, of cotton or man-made fibre, not napped, nor of 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.

In addition, The Guidelines for the Reporting of Imported Products in Various Textile and Apparel Categories (Guidelines), CIE 13/88, dated November 23, 1988, state:

Other T-shirts in Heading 6109, which are assigned Category 338/339/638/639/838, must be 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.

As illustrated by numerous dictionaries, the term "T-shirt" in the United States adheres to a narrower and more specific definition which precludes the long-sleeved version of the same garment. Sample definitions include:

A collarless, lightweight, short sleeved pullover shirt of cotton, The Living Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary (1975)

A short sleeved shirt having the shape of a T, The Oxford American Dictionary, (1980)

A short sleeved, collarless men's undershirt, Webster's II New Riverside Dictionary, (1984)

A short sleeved collarless undershirt, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, (1992)

As was established by the court in United States v. C.J. Tower and Sons of Buffalo, N.Y., 48 CCPA 87, C.A.D. 770 (1961), tariff terms are to be construed in accordance with their common and commercial meanings. In the United States it is a well-established commercial reality that the commonly held view of what constitutes a T-shirt is the basic short-sleeved garment. This is in keeping with the "T" shape of the garment for which it was named. In those instances where the basic T-shirt is altered, an adjective is added to the description to emphasize the modification made to the commonly known garment. Thus, advertisements seen for a "long sleeved" Tee, describe to the purchaser the way in which this particular garment differs from the commonly recognized T-shirt.

The classification of articles under the HTSUSA is based on a ten digit system. The first four digits of the classification identify each heading and at the six digit level, the subheading is also identified. This six digit level represents the international system of classification. Anything after the six digit level, i.e., the remaining four digits, are used by each country for domestic tariff and statistical subdivisions.

On the six digit international level, subheading 6109.10, HTSUSA, provides for T-shirts, singlets, tank tops and similar garments, knitted or crocheted, of cotton. Insofar as all garments described within the parameters of that six digit level are included within the scope of heading 6109, HTSUSA, the U.S. may adjust the scope of the term T-shirt at the ten digit level in accordance to national usage.

Though the description of "T-shirt" in the Guidelines and the EN is inclusive of long close-fitting sleeves, this type of long-sleeved garment is commonly recognized as a "T-shirt" in the international community more than in the U.S. market. Accordingly, the classification of this type of garment is modified at the ten digit level to meet the domestic commercial reality. That is to say, this long-sleeved garment with traditional "T-shirt" features is classified as being similar to the traditional short-sleeved "T-shirt" recognized in the U.S.

The Oxford American Dictionary defines the term "similar" as:

1. like, alike, resembling something but not the same

It follows that garments featuring long, close-fitting sleeves, resemble the commonly known short-sleeved T-shirt.

The issue of inconspicuous and conspicuous features with regard to T-shirts was discussed in HQ 950192, dated April 23, 1993. That ruling provided that to qualify as similar to a T-shirt, the article must have the general appearance of a T-shirt, no conspicuous non-T-shirt features, and no more than two inconspicuous features.

The subject long-sleeved garments feature what are considered "traditional" T-shirt features, namely, lightweight, knitted jersey fabric, with a close fitting neckline, and hemmed bottom. The presence of the long, close-fitting sleeves is not in our opinion a conspicuous non-T-shirt feature and therefore, does not preclude classification in heading 6109, HTSUSA. The presence of the long, close-fitting sleeves brings it to the "other" subheading of heading 6109, HTSUSA, as similar to T-shirt.


The long-sleeved upper body garments, referred to as Style 1111 and Style 1110, are classified in subheading 6109.10.0027, HTSUSA, which provides for, inter alia, men's or boys' T-shirts, singlets, tank tops and similar garments, knitted or crocheted, of cotton, other. The applicable rate of duty is 21 percent ad valorem and the quota category is 338.

In accordance with section 625, this ruling will become effective 60 days after its publication in the Customs Bulletin. Publication of rulings or decisions pursuant to section 625 does not constitute a change of practice or position in accordance with section 177.10(c)(1), Customs Regulations [19 CFR

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 negotiations and changes, to obtain the most current information available we suggest your client check, close to the time of shipment, the Status Report on Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), an issuance of the U.S. Customs Service which is updated weekly and is available for inspection at the 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, your client should contact the local Customs office prior to importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durant, Director

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