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HQ 960331

August 15, 1997
CLA-2 RR:TC:TE 960331 jb


TARIFF NO: 3926.90.9890

Stephen M. Zelman, Esq.
Stephen M. Zelman & Associates
888 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10106

RE: Request for reconsideration of HQ 956845; classification of hard hat pads; GRI 3(b); hard hat pad does not serve the usual function of a liner

Dear Mr. Zelman:

This is in response to your request for reconsideration of HQ 956845, dated December 22, 1994, regarding the tariff classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) of among other things, a hard hat pad. A sample was submitted to this office for examination.


The subject merchandise consists of a hard hat pad which features plastic polymer beads sewn inside its layers of textile materials. The beads are designed to absorb water when soaked for a period of approximately 30 minutes. The soaked beads hold the absorbed water and provide a cooling effect that will last for several hours. The round textile pad measures approximately seven inches in diameter with the polymer beads sewn inside six parallel rows. Attached at opposite edges of the pad, and only at the edges, is a 10 inch by one inch strip of textile material with a hook and loop type fastener at both ends. This strip is for attaching the pad to the inside top of a construction worker's hard hat.

In your opinion the subject hard hat pad is classified in heading 6507, HTSUS, which provides for, among other things, linings for headgear. It is your belief that one arrives at this classification determination as per application of GRI 1, an eo nomine provision for linings of headgear, or in the alternative, GRI 3(c) as the heading which occurs last in numerical order between two equally specific headings (in this case, 3926, HTSUS, and 6507, HTSUS).


Whether the hot pad liner is properly classified in heading 6507, HTSUS, which provides for, among other things, linings for headgear,or heading 3926, HTSUS, which provides for, among other things, other articles of plastics and articles of other materials of headings 3901 to 3914?


Classification of merchandise under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). 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 in the order of their appearance.

Heading 6507, HTSUS, provides for, headbands, linings, covers, hat foundations, hat frames, peaks (visors) and chinstraps, for headgear. As you correctly state in your submission, the Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (EN) to heading 6507, HTSUS, state that this heading covers only fittings for headgear. The EN also indicate that this provision also includes linings and part linings normally made of textile material but sometimes of plastics, leather, etc. However, we disagree with your assertion that the submitted hard hat pad is a "liner". Although the EN to heading 6507, HTSUS, make reference to liners, it should be noted that they are the type of liners usually found in headgear. That is to say, the liners function in conformity with the headgear and serve the purpose of completing or enhancing the headgear. For example, liners may add stiffness to a hat and/or help define its shape or form. Liners may also serve as a buffer between the head of the wearer and the fabric of the crown of the hat, rendering the hat per se, more comfortable to wear. The subject hard hat pad however, goes beyond these "usual" uses. Most construction hard hats only come fitted with a suspension headband to keep the hat "floating" above the head so the weight of the hat doesn't rest on the head. The presence of the polymer beads and its cooling action gives the subject hard hat pad a very specific function. Thus, although the submitted merchandise is described as a "liner", we have already stated our rationale for finding that the term "liner" is neither a precise nor accurate description of the submitted merchandise. As such, classification in heading 6507, per a GRI 1 application is not appropriate.

GRI 3 applies to goods that are prima facie classifiable under two or more headings. As the subject merchandise is composed of two materials, that is, a textile material and the plastic polymer beads, it is a composite good for tariff classification purposes. GRI 3(a) states:

The heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description. However, when two or more headings each refer to part only of the materials or substances contained in mixed or composite goods or to part only of the items in a set put up for retail sale, those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to those goods, even if one of them gives a more complete or precise description of the goods.

There are two competing headings for the subject merchandise. Heading 6307, HTSUS, which provides for other made up textile articles and heading 3926, HTSUS, which provides for, among other things, other articles of plastics. As both these headings equally describe the composition of the subject merchandise, consideration must be given to both these competing provisions.

GRI 3(b) states:

Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale, 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 this case a determination must be made as to which component imparts the essential character to this merchandise. As was correctly stated in HQ 956845:

The decision as to which component imparts essential character to the article depends on an examination of the article and its dual aspects. All such articles will be capable of functioning as a cooling mechanism. This, however, does not mean that in all cases the cooling beads will impart essential character. Where the article also functions as a textile article in the ordinary manner, the cooling mechanism aspect of the article will not be viewed as imparting essential character. Where the textile article does not function in the ordinary manner, and thus appears only to be providing a medium through which the cooling beads are able to perform their intended function, the beads will be viewed as imparting essential character.

It is the opinion of this office that regardless of how the headband is attached to the hard hat it is an "unusual article". We restate our belief that the cooling beads, which provide the hard hat pad with its intended function, imparts the essential character to this article. The textile component into which the beads are sewn purely provides a means by which the cooling beads are held and can function. As we confirm that the subject merchandise is properly classified in heading 3926, HTSUS, there is no need to proceed to a GRI 3(c) analysis.


The subject merchandise is classifiable in subheading 3926.90.9890, HTSUSA, which provides for other articles of plastics and articles of other materials of headings 3901 to 3914: other: other: other. The applicable rate of duty is 5.3 percent ad valorem.

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 negotiations and changes, we suggest that your client check, close to the time of shipment, the Status Report on Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), an issuance of the U.S. Customs Service which is updated weekly and is available at the local Customs office.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) categories, your client should contact the local Customs office prior to importing the merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durant, Director
Tariff Classification Appeals

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