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HQ 956909

January 31, 1995

CLA-CO:R:C:T 956909 GG


TARIFF NO.: 5911.40.0000

Mr. Dennis Murphy
District Director
U.S. Customs Service
101 E. Main Street
Norfolk, VA 23510

RE: Application for Further Review of Protest No. 1401-94-100159; classification of air filter media

Dear Mr. Murphy:

This is in response to the application for further review of the protest referenced above.


The protestant imported filter media, known as Filter Media Micro 2000, designed for use in industrial air filters. The filter media were imported in rolls 27 inches wide. After importation, filter media of this kind are cut to size to form individual dust holding pockets, which are bonded and sealed to their own J-channel support frames. The support frames are then fastened to 28-gauge galvanized steel enclosure frames.

The filter media, described as dual stage media, consist of a prefilter layer of coarse polyester fibers and a layer of microfine polypropylene fibers spun bonded and fastened to a polypropylene backing or scrim. The first stage, or prefilter layer, is designed to arrest larger particulate in the airstream and enhance dirt loading ability. The purpose of the second stage is to capture any remaining smaller particles.

The merchandise was entered under subheading 4706.93.0000 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUSA), at a free rate of duty. Customs disagreed with the entered classification and liquidated the entries under subheading 5911.40.0000, HTSUSA. The protestant timely protested the classification of the filters, and requests reliquidation under either subheading 3926.90.9590 or subheading 5911.90.0080, HTSUSA.


How are the air filter media properly classified?


Articles are classified under the HTSUSA in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 provides that classification shall be according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes. Merchandise that cannot be classified in accordance with GRI 1 is to be classified in accordance with subsequent GRI's.

Heading 5911, HTSUSA, provides for textile products and articles, for technical uses, specified in note 7 to [Chapter 59]. The term "for technical uses" is not defined in the HTSUSA. However, the Explanatory Notes (EN) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, which constitute the official interpretation of the nomenclature at the international level, offer some general guidance regarding the meaning of this phrase:

The textile products and articles of this heading present particular characteristics which identify them as being for use in various types of machinery, apparatus, equipment or instruments or as tools or parts of tools.

The Filter Media Micro 2000 is incorporated into a cartridge for certain air filter apparatus. Accordingly, it appears to fall generally within the scope of heading 5911.

Section XI, Chapter 59, note 7, HTSUSA, specifically describes the goods which are encompassed by heading 5911. This note states that:

Heading 5911 applies to the following goods, which do not fall in any other heading of section XI:

(a) Textile products in the piece, cut to length or simply cut to rectangular (including square) shape (other than those having the character of the products of headings 5908 to 5910), the following only:

(I) Textile fabrics, felt and felt-lined woven fabrics, coated, covered or laminated with rubber, leather or other material, of a kind used for card clothing, and similar fabrics of a kind used for other technical purposes;

(ii) Bolting cloth;

(iii) Straining cloth of a kind used in oil presses or the like, of textile material or of human hair;

{iv) Flat woven textile fabrics with multiple warp or weft, whether or not felted, impregnated or coated, of a kind used in machinery or for other technical purposes;

(v) Textile fabric reinforced with metal, of a kind used for technical purposes;

(vi) Cords, braids and the like, whether or not coated, impregnated or reinforced with metal, of a kind used in industry as packing or lubricating materials;

(b) Textile articles (other than those of headings 5908 to 5910) of a kind used for technical purposes (for example, textile fabrics and felts, endless or fitted with linking devices, of a kind used in papermaking or similar machines (for example, for pulp or asbestos-cement), gaskets, washers, polishing discs and other machinery parts).

Under the terms of Chapter 59, note 7(a), only the textile fabrics and products enumerated in 7(a)(I) through 7(a)(vi) fall within the purview of heading 5911. Note 7(b) enlarges the scope of this heading to include textile articles of a kind used for technical purposes. However, in this case note 7(b) is inapplicable as the filter material is imported in the piece (i.e., in material lengths). Therefore, this merchandise is classified under heading 5911 only if it is one of the fabrics and products specified in notes 7(a)(I) through 7(a)(vi).

Note 7(a)(iii) provides for "straining cloth of a kind used in oil presses or the like." The EN to heading 5911 define this phrase as follows:

Straining cloth (e.g., woven filter fabrics and needled filter fabrics), whether or not impregnated, of a kind used in oil presses or for similar filtering purposes (e.g., in sugar refineries or breweries) and for gas cleaning or similar technical applications in industrial dust collecting systems. The heading includes oil filtering cloth, certain thick heavy fabrics of wool or of other animal hair, and certain unbleached fabrics of synthetic fibers (e.g., nylon) thinner than the foregoing but of a close weave and having a characteristic rigidity. It also includes similar straining cloth of human hair. (Emphasis added).

Hence, straining cloth includes, for example, filter fabrics used for technical applications in industrial dust collecting systems.

In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 950493, dated September 29, 1992, we addressed the proper classification of certain polyester filter material imported in rolls for use as an air filter to remove dust particles from treated intake air. In that ruling, we interpreted EN 59.11 as follows:

The subject filter mat is made of a nonwoven fabric imported in the piece, which is used for filtering purposes. It is installed in the ceilings or walls of down draft spray booths to filter unwanted dust particles from the air. This is considered a technical application in an industrial dust collecting system. It is clear that the Notes have not limited the term "straining cloth" to textiles which are used as straining cloth in oil presses, since other filtering processes are provided for, including those for air and other gases.

Thus, we found that cloth used to filter dust particles from the air to be a technical application in an industrial dust collecting system. On this basis, the air filter material was classified as a straining cloth, pursuant to subheading 5911.40, HTSUSA. See also, HRL 954138, dated June 15, 1993; HRL 953056, dated June 16, 1993; and New York Ruling Letter (NY) 863512, dated June 11, 1991. The merchandise whose classification is currently being protested also serves to filter dust particles from the air, and as such, is classifiable under the same provision.

The protestant contends that the filter media more correctly falls under subheading 5911.90, HTSUSA, as an other textile product, for technical uses, if found to be a textile, or under subheading 3926.90, HTSUSA, as an other article of plastic, if considered to be a plastic. The basis for labeling the filter media a plastic is its polypropylene content. However, the first stage of the filter media is composed of polyester fibers, the second stage of spun bonded polypropylene fibers. The General Explanatory Notes to Chapter 54 of the HTSUSA list polypropylene fibers as an example of a synthetic fiber qualifying as a man-made textile fiber. Therefore, we disagree with the protestant's characterization of the filter media as a plastic. Finally, it would be incorrect to classify the filter media under subheading 5911.90, HTSUSA, because, pursuant to GRI 3, subheadings providing a more specific description prevail over those that are more general, and subheading 5911.40, HTSUSA, gives the most specific description of the merchandise.


The filter media were correctly classified under subheading 5911.40.0000, HTSUSA, as textile products and articles, for technical uses, specified in note 7 to this chapter: straining cloth of a kind used in oil presses or the like, including that of human hair. The applicable rate of duty at the time the entries in question were liquidated was 17% ad valorem.

You are directed to DENY the protest in full. In accordance with Section 3A(ii)(b) of Customs Directive 099 3550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, this decision should be mailed 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 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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