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HQ 963454

February 22, 2000
CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 963454 jb


TARIFF NO.: 6110.20.2065; 6203.42.2050

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

RE: Classification of boys’ shirt and overall set

Dear Ms. Chung:

This is in response to your letter, dated October 4, 1999, on behalf of Bentex Kiddie Corp., wherein you request the classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) for certain boys’ shirt and overall sets. A sample was submitted to this office and will be returned under separate cover.


The merchandise at issue, referenced style 239906, consists of a boys’ waffle knit shirt, comprised of 40 percent polyester/60 percent cotton fabric and a 100 percent woven cotton fabric overall. We note that this style was part of a preclassification review (PreClassification Ruling (PC) E82999, dated April 28, 1999) and was classified as a compliant two piece playsuit in subheadings 6110.20.2005 and 6203.20.2025, HTSUSA. However, since the time of the preclassification, this style was changed; specifically, the subject overall now features a built up rear bib. As such, this ruling addresses the classification of this merchandise, referenced by the same style number, with this change in construction.

We also bring to your attention that although PC E82999 states that the classification of the overalls in style 239906, as well as in other styles, is in subheading 6203.20.2025, HTSUSA, that classification reflects a typographical error. The correct classification in PC E82999 for that merchandise should read subheading 6203.42.2025, HTSUSA. This office will take the necessary steps to inform Bentex Kiddie Corp., of the changes in the classification.

The garments at issue consist of a pullover with a rounded neck opening with a rib knit collar and long sleeves with ribbed knit cuffs, and an overall which features a significant front and rear bib rise with overall straps constructed so that they may pass through accommodating fabric loops on the pullover 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 pullovers and overalls, with corresponding quota categories 338 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:
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, 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 style to constitute a playsuit. 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 a playsuit 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 garments, the significant back and front rise serve to hold the shoulder straps in place at the shoulders, without the need for the shoulder straps 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 a set, and not a playsuit, and are therefore separately classified as individual garments.

The pullover is classified in subheading 6110.20.2065, HTSUSA, which provides for, sweaters, pullovers, sweatshirts, waistcoats (vests) and similar articles, knitted or crocheted: of cotton: other: other: other: men’s or boys’. The applicable general column one rate of duty is 18.2 percent ad valorem and the textile quota category is 338.

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.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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