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HQ 964512

January 30, 2001

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 964512 mbg


TARIFF NO.: 6211.33.0054

Sheri G. Lawson
Trade & Regulatory Services
PBB Global Logistics
434 Delaware Ave.
Buffalo, NY 14202

RE: Reconsideration of PD G80065; classification of men’s vest

Dear Ms. Lawson:

This letter is in response to your correspondence with this office on September 11, 2000, in which you requested on behalf of Ash City Division, GH Imported Merchandise & Sales Limited, reconsideration regarding the classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (“HTSUSA”) of Port Decision (“PD”) Ruling Letter G80065, dated August 24, 2000. The garment submitted for reconsideration is a men’s vest from Cambodia. You disagree with the decision of the port to classify the subject merchandise under subheading 6211.33.0054, HTSUSA, and claim that the merchandise is properly classified under subheading 6201.93.3000, HTSUSA. A sample was submitted with your request.


The subject merchandise is men’s vest with an outershell composed of 100 percent nylon woven fabric coated with polyurethane. The polyurethane coating is not visible to the naked eye. The garment features a knit, mesh, man-made fiber lining and a full frontal opening with a zipper closure extending through the stand up collar. The garment also has slanted pockets with zippered closures located below the waist and a hemmed bottom.


What is the proper classification under the HTSUSA 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 of the tariff schedule and any relative section or chapter notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI may then be applied. The Explanatory Notes (“EN”) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, which represent the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, facilitate classification under the HTSUSA by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and GRI.

The issue in the instant case is whether the submitted sample is properly classifiable as a men's jacket or vest. The determination of this issue will depend, in large part, on whether the garment’s design and construction renders it exclusively suitable for use as one or the other and the manner in which the garment is marketed. In situations such as these, Customs will first examine the physical characteristics of the garment at hand. This office has noted in prior rulings that, “the merchandise itself may be strong evidence of use.” See also, Mast Industries, Inc. v. United States, 9 Ct. Int’l Trade 549, 552, citing, United States v. Bruce Duncan Co., 50 CCPA 43, 46, C.A.D. 817 (1963).

A physical examination of the garment reveals that it resembles a vest since it has no sleeves, oversized armholes, and is of lightweight material. You assert that the garment possesses features traditionally associated with both jackets and vests and therefore potentially lends itself to classification as either a jacket under heading 6201, HTSUSA or a vest under heading 6211, HTSUSA. We disagree with such an assertion.

Heading 6201, HTSUS, provides for “Men’s or boys’ overcoats, carcoats, capes, cloaks, anoraks (including ski-jackets), windbreakers and similar articles (including padded sleeveless jackets), other than those of heading 6203. (emphasis added.) The drafters of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States made an eo nomine reference to men’s padded sleeveless jackets within heading 6201. Padded sleeveless vests are a type of outerwear having insulation or padding for protection against the cold and elements. The language in the HTSUS is unambiguous as to what type of outerwear vests may be included within heading 6201 and uninsulated articles are not included. Customs must adhere to the plain meaning of the tariff heading and not extend the term “padded, sleeveless jackets” to include non-padded articles.

Furthermore, the sample submitted to Customs for review contains a tag which describes the merchandise as an “Urban Oxford Vest.” It appears that your marketing information is consistent with Customs determination that the garment is a vest.

In your letter requesting reconsideration you claim that application of The Guidelines for the Reporting of Imported Products in Various Textile and Apparel Categories, CIE 13/88, (“Guidelines”) is appropriate. In circumstances where the identity of a garment is ambiguous for classification purposes, reference to the Guidelines is utilized by Customs. These Guidelines were developed and revised in accordance with the HTSUSA to ensure 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. However, these Guidelines are only utilized when classification of shirts and jackets are in dispute and are not applicable with all textile merchandise. Customs does not believe the Guidelines are applicable to the classification of the subject vest.

We also note the importer claims that the subject merchandise is water resistant, however such a claim is irrelevant for merchandise classified in heading 6211, HTSUS. The Additional U.S. Note to Chapter 62 addresses “water resistant” and states in pertinent part:

For the purposes of subheadings . . . 6201.93.30, . . . , the term “water resistant” means that garments classifiable in those subheadings must have a water resistance (see ASTM designations D 3600-81 and D 3781-79) such that, under a head pressure of 600 millimeters, not more than 1.0 gram of water penetrates after two minutes when tested in accordance with AATCC Test Method 35-1985. This water resistance must be the result of a rubber or plastic application to the outer shell, lining, or inner lining.

(emphasis added.)

Heading 6211, HTSUSA, provides for other garments and specifically includes vests. The ENs to heading 6114, HTSUS, which applies, mutatis mutandis, to articles of heading 6211, states:

This heading covers ...garments which are not included more specifically in the preceding headings of this Chapter.

Moreover, in Headquarters Ruling Letter (“HQ”) 088807, dated August 9, 1991, we stated the following concerning whether an article is classifiable as a garment:

. . . wearing apparel, which we believe to be synonymous with garments, has been defined by the courts to be articles worn by human beings for reasons of comfort, decency, or adornment, Antonio Pompeo v. United States, 40 Cust. Ct. 362, C.D. 2006 (1958), and includes "articles worn for protection against the elements and those worn for protection against more localized conditions prevailing in the environment of the home, workplace, school, or restaurant." Admiral Craft Equipment Corp. v. United States, 82 Cust. Ct. 162, C.D. 4796 (1979).

The submitted merchandise is worn for comfort, decency, adornment, and/or protection and since the vest is not more specifically provided for within Chapter 62, HTSUS, classification is proper in subheading 6211.33, HTSUS.


PD G80065 is hereby upheld.

The subject merchandise is properly classified under subheading 6211.33.0054, HTSUSA, which provides for "Track suits, ski-suits and swimwear; other garments: Other garments, men's or boys': of man-made fibers: Vests: Other.” The general column one rate of duty is 16.3 percent ad valorem. The applicable textile restraint category is 659.

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 renegotiations and changes, to obtain the most current information available, we suggest that your client check, close to the time of shipment, the Status Report on Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), an internal issuance of the U.S. Customs Service, which is updated weekly and is available at your 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 its local Customs office prior to importing the merchandise to determine the current applicability of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durant, Director

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