United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 1995 HQ Rulings > HQ 957171 - HQ 957246 > HQ 957183

Previous Ruling Next Ruling
HQ 957183

December 21, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 957183 GGD


TARIFF NO.: 9506.99.6080

Mr. Brian J. Hansen
Hansen Sports Company
8305 Westbend Road
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55427

RE: Modification of New York Ruling Letter (NYRL) 858816; Protective Wristbands; Not Other Made Up Clothing Accessories

Dear Mr. Hansen:

In NYRL 858816, issued January 3, 1991, a retail package consisting of two wristbands, was classified in subheading 6117.80.0010, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), which provides for "Other made up clothing accessories, knitted or crocheted...: Other accessories, Of cotton." We have reviewed that ruling and have found it to be partially in error. Therefore, this ruling modifies NYRL 858816. 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 modification of NYRL 858816 was published on November 16, 1994, in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 28, Number 45/46.


The article at issue is a pair of knit terry cloth bands (80 percent cotton, 10 percent rayon, and 10 percent spandex), one of which contains a protective insert of either rigid plastic or closed-cell foam rubber. The article is imported in a clear plastic package, with a paperboard header that is perforated for hanging display and retail sale. The composition of the inserts, as well as the sizes of the bands and inserts, vary, depending upon the sport for which the wristbands are designed. The sample article is intended for use in playing baseball and softball. -2-

Marketing information on the header includes the following: "Help avoid wrist injuries and bruises from bad bounces and wild pitches."


Whether the retail package containing two wristbands, only one of which contains a protective insert, is classifiable in heading 6117, HTSUS, as other made up clothing accessories, in heading 6307, HTSUS, as other made up textile articles, or in heading 9506, HTSUS, as other sports equipment.


Classification under the HTSUS is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). The systematic detail of the harmonized system is such that virtually all goods are classified by application of GRI 1, that is, according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative Section or Chapter Notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRIs may then be applied. The Explanatory Notes (ENs) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, which represent the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, facilitate classification under the HTSUS by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and GRIs.

The essential issue in this case is whether the wristbands are most properly classified as accessories to clothing, as clothing, or as protective sports equipment. Heading 6117, HTSUS, provides for other made up clothing accessories. In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 088540, issued June 3, 1991, this office discussed the distinction among the headings of the nomenclature covering clothing and accessories (including protective clothing) and protective equipment. We stated that accessories must be related to, or exhibit some connection to a primary article, and must be intended for use solely or principally as an accessory. Whether or not the wristbands are found to be clothing, they are not related or connected to a primary article, and are not intended for sole or principal use as a clothing accessory. Thus, the items are not classifiable in heading 6117, HTSUS.

Heading 6307, HTSUS, covers other made up textile articles, including dress patterns. In HRL 951844, issued September 4, 1992, this office classified a pair of cotton/stretch nylon wristbands in heading 6307. We noted that the essential function of the items was to absorb sweat, that they did not constitute -3-
clothing accessories, and that there was no specific provision in the Nomenclature for sweatbands. Neither of those wristbands contained a protective insert or functioned to protect the wrist from blows encountered in sports. Since heading 6307 refers to only part of the set, i.e., the wristband without a protective insert, we must look further to properly classify the complete article.

Heading 9506, HTSUS, provides, in pertinent part, for articles and equipment for athletics, other sports or outdoor games. Note 1(e) to chapter 95 states that the chapter does not cover sports clothing. However, the ENs to heading 9506 indicate that the heading covers protective equipment for sports or games, including breast plates, elbow pads, knee pads, cricket pads, and shin guards, all of which provide protection for bones closely underlying the skin and having little natural protection. We find that the wristband containing the protective insert is used in a manner similar to the protective equipment classifiable in heading 9506, and does not comprise sports clothing excluded from chapter 95. Thus, heading 9506 refers to the other part of the set, the wristband containing the protective insert.

Since the components are classifiable in different headings, i.e., 6307 and 9506, the article cannot be classified by reference to GRI 1.

In pertinent part, GRI 2(b) states that:

[t]he classification of goods consisting of more than one material or substance shall be according to the principles of rule 3.

GRI 3(a) directs that the headings are regarded as equally specific when each heading refers to part only of the items contained in a set put up for retail sale. Therefore, to determine under which provision the article will be classified, we look to GRI 3(b), which states in pertinent part that:
goods...which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

In order to determine the essential character of the set, we next view Explanatory Note VIII to GRI 3(b), which provides the following guidance:

The factor which determines essential character will vary as between different kinds of goods. It may, for example, be determined by the nature of -4-
the material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods.

We note that a wristband without a protective insert essentially functions to absorb sweat, while the other component primarily provides protection. We are also mindful that in baseball and softball, the wrist that faces the pitcher and wears the fielder's glove is in greater need of protection than the other wrist. Thus, the pair of wrist protectors containing only one protective insert may be worn primarily to protect. We find that the set's essential character is provided by the protective equipment component classifiable in heading 9506.


The retail package containing two wristbands, only one of which contains a protective insert, is classified in subheading 9506.99.6080, HTSUS, the provision for "Articles and equipment for general physical exercise, gymnastics, athletics, other sports (including table-tennis) or outdoor games...parts and accessories thereof: Other: Other: Other, Other." The applicable duty rate is 4.64 percent ad valorem.

NYRL 858816, dated January 3, 1991, is hereby modified.

In accordance with section 625, this ruling will become effective 60 days from 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


John Durant, Director

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: