United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 2001 HQ Rulings > HQ 961173 - HQ 962731 > HQ 961404

Previous Ruling Next Ruling
HQ 961404

April 6, 2001

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 961404 SG


TARIFF NO.: 6204.49.1000

Ms. Joanna Cheung, Trade Specialist
Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office
1520 18th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

RE: Reconsideration of a Pre-classification ruling that sheer dresses and slip-like liners attached thereto are two separate garments

Dear Ms. Cheung:

This is in response to a request of February 17, 1998, from Ms. Fiona Chau, formerly of your office, that Customs review the pre-classification of certain garments consisting of woven slip-like liners and complementary dresses made of sheer silk fabric. It is our understanding that the slip-like liners are attached, by tacking, to the dresses and will be worn with and under the dresses. Your file references C2/1 and case number C2/98R.


The sample at issue, style P18700808, which was part of a pre-classification ruling, file and date unspecified, consists of two components, a ladies sheer 100 percent silk woven dress and a 100 percent polyester woven underlayer similar to a slip or liner. The sleeveless dress extends to the vicinity of the knee; it features an empire waistline, a deep V-neckline, and ruffled trim around the neckline and empire waistline. Tack stitched to the dress is a slip or liner with a scoop neck, the neckline of which extends above the neckline of the dress and can be seen when the two are worn together, creating a layered look. It is the view of your office that the sample, style P18700808, is a single garment: an outer dress and an inner slip. It is argued that due to the translucent nature of the outer dress and the fact that the two components are sewn together, they should be considered as one entity and classified accordingly. The classification of the dress in subheading 6204.49.1000, HTSUSA, is not at issue. The sample dress and liner were the subject of an unspecified pre-classification ruling (PC) wherein the dress was classified in subheading 6204.49.1000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), the liners were classified as slips of man-made fibers in subheading 6208.11.0000, HTSUSA, textile category 652.


Are woven dress liners which are attached by tacking to the dresses with which they are sold, separately classifiable; if so, are they classifiable as slips or similar to slips, in heading 6208, HTSUSA?


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]."

As the HTSUS does not contain a heading that specifically provides for dresses and liners, together, classification cannot be based on GRI 1.

When interpreting and implementing the HTSUS, the Explanatory Notes (ENs) of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System may be utilized. The ENs, while neither legally binding nor dispositive, provide a guiding commentary on the scope of each heading, and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of the HTSUS. Customs believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-90, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).

The liner was preclassified in Heading 6208, which provides for, among other things, slips and similar garments. The ENs state in regard to heading 6208, in part:

This heading covers underclothing for women or girls (singlets and other vests, slips, petticoats, briefs, panties and similar articles) not knitted or crocheted.

You believe the woven liners are not classifiable in heading 6208 as slips or similar articles because the garments extend above the neckline of the dresses with which they are worn. Because the liners are partially visible and intended to be so, you believe they cannot be classified as slips or underwear since underwear is generally understood to refer to garments which are not meant to be seen.

The Guidelines for the Reporting of Imported Products in Various Textile and Apparel Categories, CIE 13/88, (hereinafter, Guidelines) address "underwear", at page 25, in part as follows:

The term "underwear" refers to garments, which are ordinarily worn under other garments and are not exposed to view when the wearer is conventionally dressed for appearance in public, indoor or out-of-doors.

The Guidelines were developed and revised in accordance with the HTSUSA to insure uniformity, to facilitate statistical classification, and to assist in the determination of the appropriate textile categories established for the administration of the Arrangement Regarding International Trade in Textiles. They offer guidance to the trade community and Customs personnel as to various characteristics of garments and may be used as an aid in determining the commercial designation of articles. It is important, however, to remember that the Guidelines are not hard and fast rules, but guidance in drawing distinctions between classes of garments.

"Slip" is defined, in relevant part, in Webster's II New Riverside University Dictionary, (1984), at 1095, as:

* * * 6. A woman's undergarment, serving as a lining for a

The woven inner layer of the garment at issue appears to largely meet this definition. The garment serves as a lining for the dress with which it is imported and sold. However, the liner is also designed to be partially and intentionally visible at the neckline. In this feature, it differs from the common understanding of "slips" as under garments, which are generally not visible to view. It is our view that the woven inner layer of the garment (liner) is therefore not an under garment as commonly defined. It is instead a component part of the dress, which is composed of two layers the outer silk “dress” and the inner polyester “liner”.

GRI 3 applies to goods that are prima facie classifiable under two or more headings. GRI 3 states, in pertinent part, the following:

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.

The ENs to GRI 3(b), provide, in part:

(ix) For the purposes of this Rule, composite goods made up of different components shall be taken to mean not only those in which the components are attached to each other to form a practically inseparable whole but also those with separable components, provided these components are adapted one to the other and are mutually complementary and that together they form a whole which would not normally be offered for sale in separate parts.

As the ENs provide, in order for composite goods made up of different components to be considered a single unit, the components must either:

1. Be attached and form a practically inseparable whole; or

2. Have separable components, which are adapted one to the other and are mutually complementary and together form a whole which would not normally be offered for sale in separate parts.

Although each individual component of the garment is complete, together they form a practically inseparable whole as the components are substantially attached to each other, and could not be separated without harm to the garment. These components are complementary in texture, material, and color. In addition, the garment is designed so that the inner layer is visible when worn. It is therefore our view that the two components are adapted one to the other, are mutually complementary, and that together they form a whole which would not normally be offered for sale in separate parts.

Accordingly, the subject sample was incorrectly classified as two separate garments. The proper classification was as one entity, a dress. We note that the classification of the dress in subheading 6204.49.1000, HTSUSA, is not at issue.


The sample garment composed of two individual components form a practically inseparable whole that is adapted one to another, is mutually complementary, are substantially attached to each other so that they would not be normally offered for sale in separate parts. They are therefore classifiable as one garment, a dress, in subheading 6204.49.1000, HTSUSA.

The PC of this garment is superceded insofar as it relates to the classification of style P18700808.


John Durant, Director

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: