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HQ 963682

January 30, 2002

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 963682 AML


TARIFF NO.: 6802.99.00

Port Director
U.S. Customs Service
St. Paul Place
Baltimore, MD 21202

RE: Protest 1303-00-100188; “granite”; gabbro; geological definition

Dear Port Director:

This is our decision on Protest 1303-00-100188, dated August 8, 2000, filed against your classification of gabbro under subheading 6802.99.00, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (“HTSUS”), which provides for worked monumental or building stone, other stone. Descriptive literature was provided for our consideration.


The articles are described by the protestant as “Nerone Polished Granite.” In accordance with long-standing Customs practice, a sample was forwarded to the Customs laboratory for analysis.

The Customs laboratory analyzed the sample provided and in report # SV20010183, dated February 26, 2001, the laboratory made the following conclusions:

The sample, a black colored broken flat stone measuring 19.4 mm in thickness is composed of Gabbro. One surface is polished. The sample is labeled “Nerone Black.”

The protestant contends that the Nerone Polished Granite stone is granite and, therefore, is properly classified under subheading 6802.93.00, HTSUS, which provides for "worked monumental or building stone (except slate) and articles thereof, other than goods of heading 6801; mosaic cubes and the like, of natural stone (including slate), whether or not on a backing; artificially colored granules, chippings and powder, of natural stone (including slate): other: granite.”

The “Nerone Polished Granite” was entered on August 15, 1999 and the entry was liquidated on June 30, 2000. The protest was filed on August 8, 2000.


Is the “Nerone Polished Granite” classified as granite under subheading 6802.93.00, HTSUS, or as other stone under subheading 6802.99.00, HTSUS?


Initially we note that the protest was timely filed and the matter protested is protestable (see 19 U.S.C. §1514(a)(2) and (5)).

Classification of imported merchandise is accomplished pursuant to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Classification under the HTSUS is guided by the General Rules of Interpretation of the Harmonized System (GRIs). GRI 1, HTSUS, states in part that “for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes[.]”

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

6802 Worked monumental or building stone (except slate) and articles thereof, other than goods of heading 6801; mosaic cubes and the like, of natural stone (including slate), whether or not on a backing; artificially colored granules, chippings and powder, of natural stone (including slate): Other:
6802.93.00 Granite.
6802.99.00 Other stone.

Under the Tariff Schedules of the United States (“TSUS”) (the precursor to the HTSUS), stones were often classified by their trade names whether or not they met the geological definition of the stone. However, under the HTSUS, whose basic provisions are common to the tariffs of all of the nations using the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, it is imperative that the United States, whenever possible, define the various tariff terms in a manner consistent with all nations utilizing the HTSUS. It is for this reason that we have settled upon the commonly accepted geological definition of various stones to determine the proper classification under the HTSUS.

Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 085266, dated September 9, 1989, dealt with the classification of tiles that were invoiced as marble. A laboratory analysis determined that the tiles were geological limestone, not geological marble. As limestone and marble are distinct stones with different geological properties, HQ 085266 held that polished limestone was not classifiable as marble in subheading 6802.91, HTSUS. Rather, it was classifiable in subheading 6802.92, HTSUS, which provides for worked monumental or building stone (except slate) and articles thereof...other, other calcareous stone. Therefore, despite the fact that polished limestone is often referred to as "marble" in the trade, it was the geological definition that was used in determining the tariff classification of the tiles under the HTSUS.

Legal Note 1 to Chapter 25 states the following:

Except where their context or note 4 to this chapter otherwise requires, the headings of this chapter cover only products which are in the crude state or which have been washed (even with chemical substances eliminating the impurities without changing the structure of the product), crushed, ground, powdered, levigated, sifted, screened, concentrated by flotation, magnetic separation or other mechanical or physical processes (except crystallization), but not products which have been roasted, calcined, obtained by mixing or subjected to processing beyond that mentioned in each heading.

Based on the information provided, the articles at issue are polished, a process considered to be further working beyond that contemplated by this Legal Note to Chapter 25. See generally the Informed Compliance Publication (ICP) entitled “What Every Member of the Trade Community Should Know About: Granite” (February, 1997)(copy enclosed), concerning the distinction between articles classifiable under Chapters 25 and 68, HTSUS. Therefore, the articles cannot be classified in Chapter 25.

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 General Explanatory Notes to Chapter 68 provide, in pertinent part, that:

Most of these products and finished articles are obtained by operations (e.g., shaping, moulding), which alter the form rather than the nature of the constituent material.

The ENs to heading 6802 provide, in pertinent part, that:

This heading covers natural monumental or building stone (except slate) which has been worked beyond the stage of the normal quarry products of Chapter 25[.]

The heading therefore covers stone which has been further processed than mere shaping into blocks, sheets or slabs by splitting, roughly cutting or squaring, or squaring by sawing (square or rectangular faces).

The heading thus covers stone in the forms produced by the stone-mason, sculptor, etc., viz.: (B) Stone of any shape (including blocks, slabs or sheets), whether or not in the form of finished articles, which has been bossed (i.e., stone which has been given a “ rock faced ” finish by smoothing along the edges while leaving rough protuberant faces), dressed with the pick, bushing hammer, or chisel, etc., furrowed with the drag-comb, etc., planed, sand dressed, ground, polished, chamfered, moulded, turned, ornamented, carved, etc.

According to HQ 085266 and the ENs, stones are classified based on their geological makeup. See also HQ 964308, dated June 22, 2000; HQ 955738, dated March 30, 1994; HQ 955355, dated April 28, 1994; 954358, dated August 18, 1993; all of which conclude that Customs determines classification of such stones based on geological definition. Because geological gabbro is not geological granite, the stones cannot be classified as entered by the protestant.


The “Nerone Polished Granite” is provided for under heading 6802. Because the Customs laboratory determined the sample is gabbro (a stone that is geologically distinct from granite), it is classifiable under subheading 6802.99.00, HTSUS, which provides for "worked monumental or building stone (except slate) and articles thereof, other than goods of heading 6801; mosaic cubes and the like, of natural stone (including slate), whether or not on a backing; artificially colored granules, chippings and powder, of natural stone (including slate): other: other stone.”

The protest is DENIED. In accordance with Section 3A(11)(b) of Customs Directive 099 3550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, this decision, together with Customs Form 19, should be mailed by your office to the protestant no later than sixty (60) days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry in accordance with the decision must be accomplished prior to mailing of this decision. Sixty (60) days from the date of this decision the Office of Regulations and Rulings will take steps to make the decision available to Customs personnel via the Customs Rulings Module in ACS and the public via the Diskette Subscription Service, the World Wide Web at www.customs.treas.gov, and other public access channels.


John Durant, Director

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