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HQ 955236

February 25, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 955236 KCC


TARIFF NO.: 6907.10.00; 6907.90.00

Ms. Maureen Ive
Customs Manager
KN Customs Brokers
700 - 535 Thurlow Street
Vancouver, BC V6E 3L2

RE: Tiles; unglazed ceramic; ceramic product; Note 1, Chapter 69; ceramic article; Additional U.S. Note 1, Chapter 69; General EN to Chapter 69; fired after shaping; 6815.99.40; other articles of stone or of other mineral substances; General EN to Chapter 68; EN 68.15; NY 884171 affirmed

Dear Ms. Ive:

This is in response to your letter dated September 29, 1993, on behalf of Cerco Industries Ltd., requesting reconsideration of New York Ruling (NY) 884171 dated June 29, 1993, which dealt with the tariff classification of tiles under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). A letter from Kato Supply Company, Nagoya, Japan, dated July 13, 1993, and samples of the tiles were submitted for examination.


NY 884171 held that eleven different tiles, SGI-100-1/2/3/14/15/16/17/18/19/20/ and 21 were classified as unglazed ceramic tiles under subheading 6907.10.00 and 6907.90.00, HTSUS. The classification in NY 884171 was based on Customs Laboratory analysis which found that each tile qualified as a ceramic article under Chapter 69, HTSUS. The information you provided in NY 884171 stated that the tiles were composed of crushed ground granite and clay, fired to form tiles with a natural stone appearance. SGI-100-1/ and 2 tiles have sides measuring more than 7 cm, whereas the remaining tiles have sides measuring less than 7 cm.

You contend that the tiles at issue are properly classified as granite under subheading 6815.99.40, HTSUS, which provides for other articles of stone or of other mineral substances. In support of classification under subheading 6815.99.40, HTSUS, you submitted a letter from Kato Supply Company which states that:

The shape of the crushed natural granite is so to speak 'granule' of size 1-2 mm and it's never powder look such as face powder or flour.

Therefore, you contend that the granules which more closely resemble chunks would remove the tile from classification as a ceramic article.


Are the tiles classified as other articles of stone or of other mineral substances under subheading 6815.99.40, HTSUS, or as unglazed ceramic tiles under subheading 6907.10.00, HTSUS, for tiles with sides measuring less than 7 cm, and subheading 6907.90.00, HTSUS, for tiles with sides measuring more than 7 cm?


The classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1, HTSUS, states, in part, that "for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes...." The competing subheadings are as follows:

6815.99.40 Articles of stone or of other mineral substances (including articles of peat), not elsewhere specified or included...Other articles...Other...Other.

6907 Unglazed ceramic flags and paving, hearth or wall tiles; unglazed ceramic mosaic cubes and the like, whether or not an a backing...

6907.10.00 Tiles, cubes and similar articles, whether or not rectangular, the largest surface of which is capable of being enclosed in a square the side of which is less than 7 cm.

6907.90.00 Other.

Heading 6907, HTSUS, falls within Chapter 69, HTSUS, making the Chapter 69, HTSUS, notes applicable to this classification. Note 1, Chapter 69, HTSUS, states that "[t]his chapter applies only to ceramic products which have been fired after shaping...." Therefore, the tiles must meet the definition of a ceramic article, as set forth in Additional U.S. Note 1, Chapter 69, HTSUS:

For the purposes of this chapter, a "ceramic article" is a shaped article having a glazed or unglazed body of crystalline or substantially crystalline structure, the body of which is composed essentially of inorganic nonmetallic substances and is formed and subsequently hardened by such heat treatment that the body, if reheated to pyrometric cone 020, would not become more dense, harder, or less porous, but does not include any glass article.

General Explanatory Note (EN) to Chapter 69 of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (pgs. 911-912) states that the term ceramic products applies to products obtained:

(A) By firing inorganic, non-metallic materials which have been prepared and shaped previously at, in general, room temperature. Raw materials comprise, inter alia, clays, siliceous materials, materials with a high melting point, such as oxides, carbides, nitrides, graphite or other carbon, and in some cases binders such as refractory clays or phosphates.

(B) From rock (e.g., steatite), fired after shaping.

The General EN to Chapter 69 continues by describing the main stages of the manufacturing process of ceramic products referred to in (A) above (whatever their constituent material) as preparation of the paste (or body), shaping, drying, firing, finishing. However, General EN to Chapter 69 notes that:

Firing, after shaping, is the essential distinction between the goods of this Chapter and the mineral or stone articles classified in Chapter 68 which are generally not fired....

The ENs, although not dispositive, are to be looked to for the proper interpretation of the HTSUS. 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

We are of the opinion that the tiles meet the definition of a ceramic article in Additional U.S. Note 1, Chapter 69, HTSUS, and, therefore, are classifiable as a ceramic product in Chapter 69, HTSUS. Specifically, the laboratory analysis stated that the tiles pass the qualifications for a ceramic article (water absorption test and heating to 650 degrees Celsius) and, therefore, they should be classified in Chapter 69, HTSUS, even though they consist partially of crushed natural stone."

Since the tiles are ceramic articles, we need to determine whether they are ceramic products pursuant to Note 1, Chapter 69, HTSUS, i.e., that the ceramic articles are fired after shaping. The information you provided states that the tiles are fired to form tiles of natural stone appearance. Moreover, Customs Laboratory analysis found that there was evidence of a firing process. "Clay is often activated with an alkaline material; however, a ground up sample does not test basic with litmus paper which indicates that the alkaline material was lost possibly during a firing process."

Additionally, General EN to Chapter 68 (pgs. 895-896) states that:

Articles obtained by firing previously shaped earths (i.e., ceramic articles) generally fall in Chapter 69, except in the cases of ceramic abrasive articles of heading 68.04....

EN 68.15 (pg. 909) states that heading 6815, HTSUS, ..."covers articles of stone or of other mineral substances, not covered by the earlier headings of this Chapter and not included elsewhere in the Nomenclature; it therefore excludes, for example, ceramic products of Chapter 69." As stated previously, the tiles are classified as ceramic products in Chapter 69, HTSUS, and, therefore, are excluded from classification under subheading 6815.99.40, HTSUS.


Tiles SGI-100-3/14/15/16/17/18/19/20 and 21 are classified under subheading 6907.10.00, as unglazed ceramic tiles with sides which measure less than 7 cm, which is dutiable at the Column 1 rate of 20 percent ad valorem.

Tiles SGI-100-1/ and 2 are classified under subheading 6907.90.00, HTSUS, as other unglazed ceramic tiles which is dutiable at the Column 1 rate of 20 percent ad valorem. NY 884171 is affirmed.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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