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 957792 - HQ 957977 > HQ 957915

Previous Ruling Next Ruling
HQ 957915

July 28, 1995

CO:R:C:T 957915 SK


TARIFF NO.: 5903.90.2500

Thomas J. O'Donnell
O'Donnell, Byrne & Williams
20 North Wacker Drive
Suite 3710
Chicago, IL 60606

RE: Classification of coated fabric; Note 2(a)(1) to Chapter 59; heading 5903, HTSUSA; coating visible if manually separable from underlying fabric; HRL 953937 (12/17/93); 956772 (12/9/94); 953937 (12/17/93); 956946 (4/6/95).

Dear Mr. O'Donnell:

This is in response to your letter of August 5, 1994, on behalf of Helios Container Systems, Inc., requesting a binding classification ruling for coated polypropylene woven fabric. Coated and uncoated samples of the subject fabric were submitted to this office for examination.


The subject merchandise is a woven fabric comprised of 100 percent polypropylene strips measuring approximately 2 millimeters in width. The fabric is laminated on one side with a polyethylene copolymer-type plastic to which white pigment has been added. The fabric will be imported in rolls 36 inches, 42 inches and 48 inches wide. Once imported into the United States, the fabric will be made into reusable, flexible, semi-bulk cargo bags used to handle, ship or store dry, flowable materials.

The New York Customs laboratory analyzed the samples and provided the following specifications:

Denier in warp 1051

Denier in filling 1819

Thickness of fabric (unlaminated) 0.45 mm

Thickness of lamination 0.10 mm

Thickness of fabric (laminated) 0.55 mm

Weight of fabric 224.0 g/square meter (86.8%)

Weight of lamination 34.1 g/square meter (13.2%)

Total weight 258.1 g/square meter

The polypropylene strips comprising this fabric, in both their coated and uncoated states, are of a high saturation white hue with shiny surface. The strips are somewhat translucent and have been crimped or folded from wider widths.


Whether the coating on the subject fabric is visible to the naked eye so as to warrant classification under heading 5903, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated


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.

Heading 5903, HTSUSA, provides for "[T]extile fabrics impregnated, coated, covered or laminated with plastics, other than those of heading 5902." Chapter Note 2(a)(1) to Chapter 59 states that heading 5903 precludes:

"[F]abrics in which the impregnation, coating or covering cannot be seen with the naked eye (usually chapters 50 to 55, 58 or 60); for the purpose of this provision, no account should be taken of any resulting change of color."

As noted supra, heading 5903 provides for only those fabrics which are visibly coated. 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 5903, HTSUSA, is based on visibility: fabric is coated and is classifiable in this heading if the plastic coating is visible to the naked eye. This standard does not allow the examiner to take the "effects" of plastic coating 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, examination of the subject fabric yields the finding that it is visibly coated with plastic. The translucent plastic laminate is manually separable from the underlying woven polypropylene strip. It is on this basis that Customs deems the fabrics visibly coated.


The subject fabric is classifiable under subheading 5903.90.2500, HTSUSA, which provides for "[T]extile fabrics impregnated, coated, covered or laminated with plastics, other than those of heading 5902: other: of man-made fibers: other: other," dutiable at a rate of 8.4 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 your client 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 a 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 a 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

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: