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HQ 963622

March 28, 2000

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 963622K


TARIFF NO.: 3809.91.0000; 3401.20.0000

Ms. Sandra L. Haupt
Sr. Management Consultant
Tower Group International
128 Dearborn Street
Buffalo, N.Y. 14207-3198

RE: Modification of New York Ruling Letter (NYRL) A86342 Dated December 27,1996; Fabric Softener; Floor Soap

Dear Ms. Haupt:

In response to your letter dated July, 31, 1996, on behalf of Ecover, Inc., Customs issued NYRL A86342, concerning the classification of several products, two of which were described as a fabric softener (050A0) and a floor soap (0601A0). These two products were classified as organic surface-active agents (other than soap); surface-active preparations, washing preparations (including auxiliary washing preparations) and cleaning preparations, whether or not containing soap, other than those of heading 3401: other, in subheading 3402.20.5000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), with a free general rate of duty. NYRL A86342 no longer represents the views of Customs for these two products.

A notice of proposed modification of NYRL A86342 was published on February 23, 2000, in the Customs Bulletin, Vol. 34, N0. 8. No comments were received. Our position follows.


The fabric softener (050A0), put up for retail trade in 32-ounce containers, consists of water and various ingredients including fragrance but it does not contain a surface-active agent.

The floor soap (0601A0), put up in liquid form in 32-ounce containers, consists of linseed oil soap and fragrance.


What is the proper classification of the fabric softener and the floor soap?


The classification of imported merchandise under the HTSUS is governed by the principles set forth in the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 requires that classification be determined first according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative section and chapter notes and, unless otherwise required, according to the remaining GRI’s, taken in their appropriate order. Accordingly, we first have to determine whether the articles are classified under GRI 1.

In your letter dated July 31, 1999, you noted that the liquid fabric softener, (050A0) did not contain an organic surface-active agent and Customs Laboratory Report 2-96-30573-001, dated October 11, 1996, does not indicate that the product contains a surface-active agent. Therefore, the product is not classified by virtue of GRI I in subheading 3402.20.5000, HTSUS.

Heading 3809, HTSUS, provides for finishing agents, dye carriers to accelerate the dyeing or fixing of dyestuffs and other products and preparations (for example, dressings and mordants), of a kind used in the textile, paper, leather or like industries, not elsewhere specified or included. Subheading 3809.91.00, HTSUS, provides for a kind used in the textile or like industries. The Explanatory Notes (EN’s) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, which represent the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, facilitate classification under the HTSUS by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and General Rules of Interpretation of the HTSUS. The EN’s for heading 3809, indicate that it covers a wide range of products and preparations of a kind generally used during the processing or finishing such products as fabrics and includes softening agents as an example of preparations to modify the feel of products. Accordingly, the liquid fabric softener is classified by virtue of GRI I in subheading 3809.91.00, HTSUS.

In your letter, you also questioned whether the floor soap could be classified as soap since it is in liquid form and not bars or cakes. Heading 3401 provides for soap; organic surface-active products and preparations for use as soap, in the form of bars, cakes, molded pieces or shapes, whether or not containing soap; paper, wadding, felt and nonwovens, impregnated, coated or covered with soap or detergent. The heading specifically provides for “soap”. The EN’s for heading 3401 states that there are three categories of soap, and describes hard, soft, and liquid soaps that are classified as soaps in the heading. Unlike organic surface-active products and preparations for use as soap, soaps are not required to be in the form of bars, cakes, moulded pieces or shapes. The floor soap in liquid form is classified by virtue of GRI 1 as soap, in subheading 3401.20.00, HTSUS.


A fabric softener as described in NYRL A86342 and identified as 050A0, is classified as a finishing agent not elsewhere specified or included, of a kind used in the textile or like industries, in subheading 3809.91.00, HTSUS.

Floor soap in liquid forms as described in NYRL A86342, and identified as 0601A0, is classified as soap, in subheading 3401.20.00, HTSUS.

NYRL A86342 is modified accordingly. In accordance with 19 U.S.C. 1625(c), this ruling will become effective 60 days after its publication in the Customs Bulletin.


John Durant, Director

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