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HQ 963520

April 20, 2000
CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 963520 jb


TARIFF NO.: 6106.20.2030; 6204.62.2050

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

RE: Classification of girls’ shirt and overall set

Dear Ms. Cheung:

This is in response to a letter from Albert Tang, dated November 18, 1999, on behalf of Bentex Kiddie Corp., wherein classification was requested under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) for certain girls’ shirt and overall sets. A sample was submitted to this office and will be returned under separate cover.


The merchandise at issue, referenced style 769202C, is a girls’ shirt and overall set consisting of a finely knit shirt, comprised of 65 percent polyester/35 percent cotton fabric and a 100 percent cotton corduroy fabric overall. The style is imported in toddler sizes 2-4.

The upper body garment is a shirt with an opening at the back of the neckline secured by three buttons and long sleeves with hemmed cuffs. The word “Cinderella” is embroidered at the top of the front of the garment. The overall features a significant front and rear bib rise with the overall straps constructed so that they may pass through accommodating fabric loops on the shirt’s shoulders.

In your office’s opinion, 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 overalls, with corresponding quota categories 639 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 (TSUS) provided a fairly stringent and specialized definition for “playsuits”, the current HTSUS and the Explanatory Notes to the HTSUS 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 TSUS. 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 shirt 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 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 a set, and not a playsuit, and are therefore separately classified as individual garments.

The shirt is classified in subheading 6106.20.2030, HTSUSA, which provides for women’s or girls’ blouses and shirts, knitted or crocheted: of man-made fibers: other: girls’: other. The applicable general column one rate of duty is 33 percent ad valorem and the textile quota category is 639.

The overalls are classified in subheading 6204.62.2050, HTSUSA, which provides for, women’s or girls’ suits, ensembles, suit-type jackets, blazers, dresses, skirts, divided skirts, 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: girls’: other. The applicable general column one rate of duty is 9.1 percent ad valorem and the textile quota category is 237.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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