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HQ 963419

February 9, 2000

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 963419 jb


TARIFF NO.: 6105.20.2030; 6110.30.3050; 6203.42.2050

Joanna Chung
Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office
1520 18th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036

RE: Classification of children’s shirt and overall sets

Dear Ms. Chung:

This is in response to your letter, dated September 16, 1999, on behalf of Wear Me Apparel Corporation, wherein you request the classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) for certain children’s shirt and overall sets. Samples were submitted to this office and will be returned under separate cover.


The merchandise at issue consists of boys’ shirt and overall sets composed of 70 percent polyester/30 percent cotton or 65 percent polyester/35 percent cotton knitted shirts with 100 percent cotton woven overalls. The samples which were submitted to this office were referenced style numbers 5251, 6124, 74243013, 7821, 74243005, and 5283.

Of all the styles submitted, six styles feature pullovers and the remaining style features a pullover with a three button placket (with a left over right closure) at the neck. All of the overalls feature significant front and rear bib rises. The overall straps are constructed so that they may pass through accommodating loops on the shirts’ shoulders.

It is your opinion that the subject garments are properly classified in the appropriate tariff provisions for “imported as parts of playsuits” with corresponding textile category 237. Customs however, disagrees and has denied entry of this merchandise under these provisions, and is requiring classification in the applicable tariff provisions for shirts and pullovers and overalls, with corresponding quota categories 638 and 237, respectively.


What is the proper classification for the subject merchandise?


Classification of goods under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes and, provided such headings or notes do not otherwise require, according to the remaining GRIs taken in order.

Note 13, Section XI, requires that unless the context otherwise requires, textile garments of different headings are to be classified in their own headings even if put up in sets for retail sale. Therefore, the garments at issue are separately classified whether it is determined that they are components of a set or a playsuit. However, if it is determined that they are components of a playsuit, only one visa in category 237 will be required for entry of the garments.

Although the former Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUSA) provided a fairly stringent and specialized definition for “playsuits”, the current HTSUSA and the Explanatory Notes to the HTSUSA provide no such guidance. Accordingly, in determining what is to be considered a "playsuit" for classification purposes, Customs has been following the position as developed under the TSUSA. In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 075949 of March 3, 1986, Customs set forth various factors considered in determining if garments are classifiable as playsuits. These factors include:

1. reference to the Textile Category Guidelines for Fabric and Garments Reported Under Textile Categories, CIE 6/87 (this was an earlier version of what is now the Textile Guidelines for the Reporting of Imported Products in Various Textile and Apparel Categories, CIE 13/88) ; 2. the way in which the garments are known and marketed; 3. the use of the garments;
4. the construction, design and composition of the garments; and, 5. the manner in which they are worn together.

The Guidelines state, in relevant part:

Two-piece physically connected entireties for girls 2-14 and boys 2-7, such as shirts and shorts having matching buttons and buttonholes, or shoulder loops with suspender straps designed to join the two pieces, which are so manufactured that the use of one without the other is not practicable, are encompassed within this category. However, button/buttonhole sets with pants that can reasonably be worn without the shirt, are not within this provision and are reportable separately.

The pivotal question raised by such garments is deciding when the garments are merely parts of a set and when they go beyond being parts of a set and become a playsuit. The Guidelines refer to playsuits as entireties and address the plausibility of being able to use one piece independent of the other. As was stated in HQ 951301, dated July 16, 1992, classifying similar merchandise,

[t]o qualify as an entirety, the articles, when combined, should form a new article with a different character or use from the parts; or one of the articles or components should predominate with the other components being merely incidental to the predominant part. E.M. Stevens Corp. v. United States, 49 Cust. Ct. 203, 204, Abstract 66971 (1962), appeal dismissed, 53 CCPA 155, C.A.D. 5266 (1966). In contrast, when articles imported together as a unit retain their individual identities and are not subordinated to the identity of the combination, the articles will not be considered an entirety and will be separately classified. Donalds Ltd., Inc. v. United States, 32 Cust. Ct. 310, 315, C.D. 1619 (1954).

In HRL 079553 of March 30, 1988, Customs stated:

We have determined, based in part on an examination of representative commercial practices in the United States, that two-piece combination garments are not classifiable as playsuits when they are merely joined at the waist by buttons or other fasteners and do not form a new commercial entity generally recognized as a playsuit. * * * [I]n preparing rulings we will examine all features of garment combinations to be certain that the joining of the garments is commercially realistic and results in a new article of commerce known generally and commercially as a playsuit.

Similarly, with respect to the subject merchandise, this office does not consider the garments that make up the submitted styles to constitute playsuits. The simple fact that these two piece combination garments are capable of being joined together to form a set does not in itself mean that they constitute playsuits for classification purposes. Playsuits as defined by the Guidelines, are "two-piece physically connected entireties." Unlike the garments described in the Guidelines, the subject garments do not form an entirety. When these garments are worn, each individual garment retains its individual identity. They do not take on a different character or use when combined. Additionally, both the pullover and overalls may be worn separately, independent of one another. Particularly, in the case of these overalls, the significant back and front rise serve to hold the shoulder straps in place at the shoulders, without the need for the shoulder loops found on the pullover. As such, neither garment is dependent upon the other in order to be worn.

Accordingly, as these garments are neither principally designed nor constructed to be worn solely as an entirety, they are to be classified separately, with corresponding textile categories. See also, HQ 080289, dated October 27, 1988, HQ 079637, dated July 5, 1988, HQ 079651, dated July 5, 1988, and HQ 950528, dated April 7, 1992.


The subject garments are considered sets, and not playsuits, and are therefore separately classified as individual garments.

The placket shirts are classified in subheading 6105.20.2030, HTSUSA, which provides for, men’s or boys’ shirts, knitted or crocheted: of man-made fibers: other: boys’: other. The applicable general column one rate of duty is 33 percent ad valorem and the textile quota category is 638.

The pullovers are classified in subheading 6110.30.3050, HTSUSA, which provides for, sweaters, pullovers, sweatshirts, waistcoats (vests) and similar articles, knitted or crocheted: of man-made fibers: other: other: other: other: men’s or boys’. The applicable general column one rate of duty is 32.9 percent ad valorem and the textile quota category is 638.

The overalls are classified in subheading 6203.42.2050, HTSUSA, which provides for, men’s or boys’ suits, ensembles, suit-type jackets, blazers, trousers, bib and brace overalls, breeches and shorts (other than swimwear): trousers, bib and brace overalls, breeches and shorts: of cotton: other: bib and brace overalls: other: boys’, sizes 2-7: other. The applicable general column one rate of duty is 10.6 percent ad valorem and the textile quota category is 237.

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) and the restraint (quota/visa) 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
Commercial Rulings Division

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