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HQ 958965

February 4, 1997

CLA-2 RR:TC:TE 958965 CAB


TARIFF NO. 6211.32.0070; 6211.42.0070

Laurie Everill
J.C. Penney Purchasing Corporation
P.O. Box 10001
Dallas, Texas 75301-0001

RE: Classification of reversible vests; Heading 4203; Heading 6211; GRI 3(c); 19 CFR 134.41(b)

Dear Ms. Everill:

This is in response to your inquiry of January 18, 1996, requesting a tariff classification ruling under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) and the appropriate country of origin marking for certain children's reversible vests. Samples were submitted for examination and will be returned to you under separate cover.


The submitted samples consist of children's reversible vests. One side of the garment is constructed of pig split leather and on the reverse side either 100 percent woven cotton denim material or 100 percent woven cotton corduroy material will be utilized. The garments have a full frontal opening with three snap closures, slit pockets on both the cotton and leather sides, and back panels constructed of 100 percent woven nylon material. The slit pockets on the textile side of the garments are constructed of leather.

In a revised submission, dated April 4, 1996, mock-up garments were sent for examination and classification. These additional garments are essentially identical to the aforementioned garments with some minor exceptions. One garment has leather material inserted onto each shoulder as well as leather patch pockets on the textile side of the garment with the leather side of the garment remaining the same. The other garment at issue will have a leather patch attached to the textile side of the garment which will extend from the side of the lower armhole to the garment's bottom and the slit pockets will be eliminated on the textile side of the garment. This classification determination is applicable to the revised garments.

You propose to mark the vests in either of two different ways. One way is by swift tacking a cardboard hangtag at the side seam of the bottom left armhole. The other proposed marking alternative is to attach the hangtag with a plastic anchor to the left of the top center back where the front panel is joined to the back panel.


I. Whether the leather or the textile component imparts the essential character of the garments?

II. What is an acceptable country of origin marking pursuant to 19 USC 1304 and Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134) for the subject reversible vests?



Classification of goods under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined 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 taken in order.

The garments at issue are potentially classifiable under two distinct headings. Heading 4203, HTSUSA, is the provision for articles of apparel and clothing accessories, of leather or of composition leather. Heading 6211, HTSUSA, is the provision for track suits, ski-suits, swimsuits and garments not previously provided for in other headings.

In this case, the reversible garments at issue are comprised of leather and textile fabric, materials that are classifiable in different headings. GRI 3(a) requires that where two or more headings describe the merchandise, the more specific will prevail; or however, if two or more headings each refer to part only of the materials in the goods, then classification will be by GRI 3(b). GRI 3(b) states that the material or component which imparts the essential character to the goods will determine the classification. GRI 3(c) provides that when goods cannot be classified by reference to 3(a) or 3(b), they shall be classified under the heading which occurs last in numerical order among those which equally merit consideration in determining their classification.

You assert that the garments at issue are classifiable under Heading 4203, HTSUSA, as leather apparel. You specifically focus on the additional leather attachments located on the textile side of the garments to substantiate your claim that the leather portion imparts the essential character of the subject vests. In prior cases, Customs has concluded that when determining the classification of reversible garments which are comprised of different materials on each side, neither of the materials imparts the essential character of the garment as each side is equally useable and functional. See, Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 955218, dated March 4, 1994 and HQ 956138, dated July 19, 1994.

When examining these garments in light of the cited Customs rulings, it is apparent to Customs that the subject garments are reversible and equally useable on either side depending upon the preference of the wearer. This additional attachment of leather material on the textile sides of the garments does not change the essential character of the textile side to leather. As both sides of the vests are functional and wearable, neither the textile side nor the leather side imparts the essential character of the garments. Since both sides of the subject vests are equally important, Customs will apply the principles of GRI 3(c) and classify the vests in the heading that occurs last in numerical order, Heading 6211, HTSUSA.


Section 304 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304), provides that unless excepted, every article of foreign origin imported into the United States shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly, and permanently as the nature of the article (or its container) will permit, in such a manner as to indicate to the ultimate purchaser in the United States the English name of the country of origin of the article. The Congressional intent in enacting 19 U.S.C. 1304 was "that the ultimate purchaser should be able to know by an inspection of the marking on the imported goods the country of which the goods is the product. The evident purpose is to mark the goods so that at the time of purchase the ultimate purchaser may, by knowing where the goods were produced, be able to buy or refuse to buy them, if such marking should influence his will." United States v. Friedlander & Company, 27 CCPA 297 at 302; C.A.D. 104 (1940).

Part 134, Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 134) implements the country of origin marking requirements and exceptions of 19 U.S.C. 1304. Section 134.41(b), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 134.41(b)), requires that the marking be conspicuous enough that an ultimate purchaser will be able to find the marking easily and read it without strain. The degree of permanence of the marking should be at least sufficient to insure that in any reasonably foreseeable circumstance, the marking shall remain on the article until it reaches the ultimate purchaser unless it is deliberately removed. The marking must survive normal distribution and store handling.

Customs ruled in T.D. 54640(6) that shirts, blouses and sweaters must be marked by means of a fabric label sewn on the inside center of the neck midway between the shoulder seams or in that immediate area. Nevertheless, Customs has allowed some leeway for reversible garments that are otherwise conspicuously, permanently and legibly marked in accord with 19 U.S.C. 1304 and 19 CFR 134. See HQ 731513, dated November 15, 1988 (a reversible ladies jacket with the country of origin on a paper hangtag attached to the neck area of the garment was allowed); In HQ 734692, dated October 31, 1992 (reversible jackets marked with two country of origin labels, one sewn into the inside pocket and one on a hangtag attached to the zipper was acceptable); HQ 734889, dated June 2, 1993 (a sewn-in label at the neck was not mandated under 19 U.S.C. 1304 for reversible jean jackets).

Your proposal to mark the reversible vests either by swift tacking a cardboard hangtag at the side seam of the bottom left armhole or attaching the hangtag with a plastic anchor to the left top center back where the front panel is joined to the back panel is acceptable for purposes of 19 U.S.C. 1304 provided the hangtag with the country of origin contains the garments' size information and is otherwise legible, conspicuous, and permanently marked.

To ensure compliance with the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act (15 U.S.C. 70) which is applicable to textile products, we suggest that you contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for information regarding guidelines for the use of the proposed hangtags. Customs does not issue rulings or decisions interpreting FTC guidelines. The address of the FTC is:

Federal Trade Commission
6th and Pennsylvania, NW,
Washington, D.C. 20580


Based on the foregoing, the subject vests are classifiable in subheading 6211.32.0070, HTSUSA, and 6211.42.0070, HTSUSA, which provides for other women's or girls' vests of cotton, respectively. The applicable rate of duty is 8.4 percent ad valorem and the textile restraint category is 359.

The designated textile and apparel category may be subdivided into parts. If so, 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 that you 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 available for inspection at your local Customs office.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the restraint (quota/visa) categories, you should contact your local Customs office prior to importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durant, Director
Tariff Classification Appeals

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