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HQ 959007

August 15, 1996

CLA RR:TC:MM 959007


TARIFF NO.: 6810.19.14

Port Director
U.S. Customs Service
610 Canal Street
Chicago, IL 60607

RE: Protest 3901-95-102479; unglazed stone tiles; En 69.10

Dear Port Director:

The following is our response to Protest 3901-95-102479 concerning your actions in classifying and assessing duty on unglazed stone tiles, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). No sample was provided. Literature describing the articles was provided.


According to the invoices and literature the subject unglazed concrete tiles are 22cm x 22cm x 1/5cm, 30cm x 30cm x 1/5cm, and 11cm x 11cm x 1/5cm. A copy of a facsimile provided by the manufacturer to the importer states that the tiles contain, by weight, 40% of ground old terra cotta, 16% silicious stone, 10% river sand, 14% quarry sand and 20% white cement. The literature indicates that the tile is floor tile made of silicious stone, terra cotta, concrete, metallic oxides and fiberglass. Additionally, it indicates that this combination creates a lack of porosity (water absorption of less than 3%), bending resistance and hardness (less wasted material due to breakage from heavy traffic use).

The entry was liquidated on August 18, 1995, under subheading 6810.19.14, HTSUS, which provides for Articles of cement, of concrete or of artificial stone, whether or not reinforced:
Tiles, flagstones, bricks and similar articles: Other: Floor and wall tiles: Other. A protest was timely filed on September 18, 1995, asserting the articles are classifiable under subheading 6904.90.00, HTSUS, which provides for Ceramic building bricks, flooring blocks, support or filler tiles and the like: Other.


Whether the unglazed stone tiles are ceramic articles or stone articles? Whether the articles are considered "concrete" for tariff purposes? Whether the articles are considered tiles or bricks for tariff purposes?


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...."
Chapter 69, HTSUS, provides for ceramic products.

Note 1 to Chapter 69, HTSUS, states that "This Chapter applies only to ceramic products which have been fired after shaping". Protestant has provided no information which indicates that the product's constituent materials are fired after they are shaped. Furthermore, the presence of substantial amounts of cement, stone and sand makes the likelihood that the articles were fired, remote. As no evidence was presented indicating the articles were fired after shaping, they are not classifiable in Chapter 69, as ceramic articles.

Chapter 68, HTSUS, provides for articles of stone, plaster, cement, asbestos, mica or similar materials. Heading 6810, HTSUS, provides, in pertinent part, for: Articles of cement, of concrete or of artificial stone, whether or not reinforced: Tiles, flagstones, bricks and similar articles. Protestant asserts that the article's 20% by weight of white cement is not a sufficient amount for the article to meet the description of heading 6810. We disagree.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs), although not dispositive nor legally binding, provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128, (August 23, 1989). EN 68.10, at page 905, states, in pertinent part, that:

This heading covers moulded, pressed or centrifuged articles (e.g., certain pipes) of cement (including slag cement), of concrete or of artificial stone...

...Artificial stone is an imitation of natural stone obtained by agglomerating pieces of natural stone or crushed or powdered natural stone (limestone, marble, granite, porphyry, serpentine, etc.) with lime or cement or other binders (e.g., plastics). Articles of artificial stone include those of "terrazzo", "granito", etc....

...The heading includes, inter alia, blocks, bricks, tiles; ceiling or wall mesh or lath (consisting of a wire framework combined with a predominating proportion of concrete); flagstones; beams; hollow flooring slabs and other constructional goods...

...The articles of this heading may be bushed, ground, polished, varnished, bronzed, enamelled, made to imitate slate, moulded or otherwise ornamented, coloured in the mass, reinforced with metal, etc. (e.g., reinforced or pre-stressed concrete), or fitted with accessories of other materials (e.g., hinges, etc.)...

Based on the language of the EN we are of the opinion that the scope of this heading includes not only articles of cement, but articles of artificial stone as well. The constituent materials together with their percentage by weight indicates that, for tariff purposes, the articles are composed of artificial stone. Customs is of the opinion that for these articles, the percentages by weight of terra cotta, sand and cement indicate that an imitation of natural stone was obtained by agglomerating the terra cotta and sand with cement. Therefore, the subject articles are classifiable under heading 6810. Finally, their measurements as well as invoice descriptions indicate that the articles are tiles. Subheading 6810.19.14, HTSUS, provides for Articles of cement, of concrete or of artificial stone, whether or not reinforced: Tiles, flagstones, bricks and similar articles: Floor and wall tiles: Other.


The unglazed stone tiles are classifiable under subheading 6910.10.14, HTSUS. The protest should be DENIED.

In accordance with section 3A(11)(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 this decision must be accomplished prior to the mailing of the decision. Sixty days from the date of this 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 to the public via the Diskette Subscription Service, Freedom of Information Act and other public access channels.


John Durant, Director
Tariff Classification Appeals

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