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HQ 965189

April 22, 2002

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 965189 DBS


TARIFF NO.: 8708.99.80

Port Director
U.S. Customs Service
200 East Bay Street
Charleston, SC 29401

RE: Protest 1601-01-100037; after-market automotive seat covers.

Dear Port Director:

This is our decision on Protest 1601-01-100037, filed on behalf of Saddleman, Inc. by counsel, against your classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) of “universal fit” after-market automotive seat covers. The entries were liquidated on February 9 and February 16, 2001. This protest was timely filed on March 12, 2001. Saddleman, Inc. has filed protests at multiple ports that involve substantially similar goods. A list of entries protested is attached. In accordance with section D(1)(e) of Customs Directive #099-3550-065, dated August 1, 1993, this protest has been designated the “lead” protest.


The merchandise subject to this ruling consists of various universal fit, after-market automotive seat covers, designed to fit over most bucket seats and bench seats of automotives, trucks, sport utility vehicles and vans. The seat covers are knit or woven and made from synthetic or cotton fabric. Literature submitted by the protestant from its website advertises the merchandise for fashion, fun, style, protection, upgrade and comfort.

You have classified the merchandise subject to this particular protest under subheading 6304.91.00, HTSUS. The entries subject to the other protests were classified under various subheadings of heading 6304, HTSUS, pursuant to fabric type, as other furnishing articles. Protestant claims the subject merchandise is classifiable under subheading 9401.90.10, HTSUS, as parts of seats, or, in the alternative, under subheading 8708.99.80, HTSUS, as parts and accessories of motor vehicles.


Whether the subject merchandise is classifiable as other furnishing articles under heading 6304, HTSUS, parts of seats under heading 9401, HTSUS, or parts and accessories of motor vehicles under heading 8708, HTSUS.


Classification under the HTSUS is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (“GRIs”). GRI 1 provides that articles are to be classified by the terms of the headings and relative Section and Chapter Notes. For an article to be classified in a particular heading, the heading must describe the article, and not be excluded therefrom by any legal note. In the event that goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRIs may then be applied.

In understanding the language of the HTSUS, the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) may be utilized. ENs, though not dispositive or legally binding, provide commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS, and are the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. Customs believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

6304 Other furnishing articles, excluding those of heading 9404 Other

6304.91.00 Knitted or crocheted

8708 Parts and accessories of the motor vehicles of headings 8701 to 8705: Other parts and accessories:

8708.99 Other:

8708.99.80 Other.

9401 Seats (other than those of heading 9402), whether or not convertible into beds, and parts thereof:

9401.90 Parts:

9401.90.10 Of seats of a kind used for motor vehicles.

Protestant first contends that the after-market automotive seat covers (“seat covers”) are classifiable under heading 9401, HTSUS, as parts of seats. Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(c), HTSUS, states: “a provision for parts of an article covers products solely or principally used as a part of such articles but a provision for “parts” or “parts and accessories” shall not prevail over a specific provision for such part or accessory.”

It is a well-established rule that a ‘part’ of an article is something necessary to the completion of that article. “It is an integral, constituent, or component part, without which the article to which it is to be joined, could not function as such article.” United States v. Willoughby Camera Stores, Inc., 21 CCPA 322, 324, T.D. 46,851 (1933). Protestant relies on Bauerhin Technologies Limited Partnership v. U.S., 110 F.3d 774 (CAFC 1997), in which canopies were classified as parts of seats. The canopies were specially designed for the particular child safety seats. The canopies were imported separately from the seats but, when sold to the ultimate consumer, were either packaged together with the seats or sold specifically as replacement parts. In other words, the canopies contributed to the whole of the car seat.

In contrast to Bauerhin, the instant seat covers are not sold as parts of the seats or motor vehicles with which they are used. Nor are they constituent parts of the seats. They are designed to fit over almost any seats in any model of vehicle, while the canopy was designed to fit a particular infant car seat. The seat covers are sold as an accessory to be slipped over a completed and permanently installed motor vehicle seat. The seat covers are used for protection, decoration and the like. Thus, we do not find them to be classifiable as parts of seats of heading 9401, HTSUS.

Heading 6304, HTSUS, covers, in pertinent part, other furnishing articles. The ENs state that the heading includes “furnishing articles of textile materials for use in the home, public buildings, theatres, churches, etc., and similar articles used in ships, railway carriages, aircraft, trailer caravans, motor cars, etc.” These seat covers are “ejusdem generis” or “of the same kind” of articles as the exemplars, such as cushion covers and loose covers for furniture, listed in the EN. However, heading 6304, HTSUS, is a general heading or basket provision, as evidenced by the word “other.” See The Item Company v U.S., 98 F. 3d 1294, 1296 (CAFC 1996). Classification of imported merchandise in a basket provision is only appropriate if there is no tariff category that covers the merchandise more specifically. See EM Industries v.U.S. , F. Supp. 1473, 1480 (1998) ("'Basket' or residual provisions of HTSUS headings . . . are intended as a broad catch-all to encompass the classification of articles for which there is no more specifically applicable subheading.").

Heading 8708, on the other hand, provides for parts and accessories of motor vehicles of headings 8701 to 8705. “Accessory” is not defined in the HTSUS. Thus, we employ the common meaning of the term, as the courts did in the Rollerblade decisions, wherein the courts derived from various dictionaries that an accessory must relate directly to the thing accessorized. Rollerblade, Inc. v. U.S. 116 F. Supp. 2d 1247 (CIT 2000) (hereinafter Rollerblade I), aff’d by Rollerblade, Inc. v. U.S., 282 F.3d 1349 (CAFC 2002) (hereineafter Rollerblade II) (holding inline roller skating protective gear is not an accessory because the protective gear does not directly act on or contact the roller skates in any way.). For example, the Oxford English Dictionary 74 (2d edition 1989) defines “accessory” as: "Of things: Coming as an accession; contributing in an additional and hence subordinate degree; additional, extra, adventitious." The instant seat covers are “extras” that act directly on seats of motor vehicles, adding to the style of the interior of the motor vehicle, protecting the seats from wear and tear, etc. Thus, they are defined as accessories.

EN 87.08 states that parts and accessories of the motor vehicles of headings 8701 to 8705 should meet both of the following conditions:

(i) They must be identifiable as being suitable for use solely or principally with the above-mentioned vehicles;
and (ii) They must not be excluded by the provisions of the Notes of Section XVII (see the corresponding General Explanatory Notes.)

The General EN’s to Section XVII, HTSUS, provide, in pertinent part:

. . . these headings apply only to those parts or accessories which comply with all three of the following conditions:

(a) They must not be excluded by the terms of Note 2 to this Section (see paragraph (A) below).
and (b) They must be suitable for use solely or principally with the articles of Chapters 86 to 88 (see paragraph (B) below).
and (c) They must not be more specifically included elsewhere in the Nomenclature (see paragraph (C) below).

Paragraphs (A), (B) and (C) omitted. The instant seat covers satisfy EN 87.08. They are not excluded by Section XVII, Note 2. They are identifiable for use solely or principally with the motor vehicles of headings 8701 to 8705, HTSUS, which include all motor vehicles for the transport of persons or goods, because they are designed and principally, if not solely, used to fit bucket seats and bench seats of motor vehicles. They are more specifically described as accessories of motor vehicles of heading 8708, HTSUS, than as other furnishing articles of heading 6304, HTSUS.

Customs has classified other after-market automotive seat covers as accessories under heading 8708, HTSUS. See, eg., NY G85792, dated January 25, 2001, and NY E87682, dated November 12, 1999. Customs has also classified automotive steering wheel covers under heading 8708, HTSUS, see, e.g., NY 807787, dated March 17, 1995, and NY 863737, dated May 30, 1991, as well as other items for use with motor vehicles, such as an automotive trash container in HQ 950525, dated February 7, 1992, and a contoured car cover in HQ 089423, dated September 24, 1991. The merchandise is accordingly classified in subheading 8708.99.80, HTSUS.


The protest should be ALLOWED. The instant universal fit after-market automotive seat covers are classified in subheading 8708.99.80, HTSUS, which provides for “Parts and accessories of the motor vehicles of 8701 to 8705: other parts and accessories: other: other.”

In accordance with Section 3A(11)(b) of Customs Directive 099 3550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, you are to mail this decision, together with the Customs Form 19, to the protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry or entries in accordance with the decision must be accomplished prior to mailing the decision.

Sixty days from the date of the decision the Office of Regulations and Rulings will make the decision available to Customs personnel, and to the public on the Customs Home Page on the World Wide Web at www.customs.gov, by means of the Freedom of Information Act, and other methods of public distribution.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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