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HQ 965379

February 19, 2002

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 965379 JFS


TARIFF NO.: 6302.60.0010

Leslie Alan Glick, Esq.
Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, LLP
1919 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Suite 500
Washington, DC 20006-3434

RE: Classification of Cotton Terry Towel Blanks; Kitchen Towel; Labeling Requirement

Dear Mr. Glick:

This is in response to your ruling request dated December 10, 2001, on behalf of your client, Cecil Saydah Company (“Saydah”), requesting that Customs classify under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) towel blanks.


Saydah has submitted two samples for consideration. Both are identical in their construction. They are made from 100 percent cotton terry fabric that has been sheared on one side. They are hemmed on all four sides and measure approximately 16 inches by 25 inches. The towels are free of any design or pattern and are ivory colored. After importation the towels will be printed with kitchen designs.

The samples vary in their labeling configurations. Both have country of origin labels with the words “Kitchen Towel” printed on them. One towel has a hang loop constructed of sturdy fabric that is approximately one inch wide. The hang loop is doubled over and both ends are double stitched into the right side of the top hem. The words “Kitchen Towel” are printed on the label in large letters. The other towel also has a hang loop, constructed of the same fabric, that is approximately ¾ of an inch wide. The label is twisted so that it forms a hang loop, the ends of which are double stitched into the top center hem. The words “Kitchen Towel” are printed on the hang loop and are readily visible.


Whether the towel blanks are properly labeled so that it is clear that they will be used as kitchen towels.


Classification under the HTSUSA is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 provides that the classification of goods 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.

This ruling request involves the classification of cotton terry towel blanks, i.e., towels that are imported without any design or pattern. Saydah intends to print a kitchen design on the towels after they have been imported into the United States. The towels are approximately 16 inches by 25 inches. Towels of these dimensions are used as bathroom hand towels and as kitchen dishtowels. Kitchen dishtowels are classified in subheading 6302.60.0010, HTSUSA, which provides for: “Bed linen, table linen and kitchen linen, Toilet linen and kitchen linen, of terry toweling or similar terry fabrics, of cotton, Towels: Dish.” The general column one rate of duty is 9.3 percent ad valorem. The textile category is 369 and was integrated as of January 1, 2002. When no clear distinction can be made as to whether they are kitchen or bath towels, they are classified in subheading 6302.60.0020, HTSUSA, as “Other” towels. This provision has the same duty rate as the provision for kitchen dishtowels, however the towels are subject to quota category 363, which has not been integrated.

In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 077195, dated February 12, 1986, Customs allowed manufacturers, in order to classify alleged kitchen towel blanks as kitchen towels, to print the words “kitchen towel” on the face or the back of the towel blanks. In HQ 962455, dated June 30, 1999, the manufacturer was concerned that his customers would not accept a towel with “kitchen towel” printed on the face or the back of the towel. Customs accommodated the manufacturer and laid out three criteria that, if met, would allow the towels to be classified as kitchen towels. The criteria are: (1) that the towels imported will be sold and marketed exclusively as kitchen towels; (2) that the words “kitchen towel” be printed on the country of origin label; and (3) that the words “kitchen towel” be printed on a separate hang tag that is sewn into two seams (hems), i.e., across the corner, of the towel.

On November 6, 2000, in response to a ruling request, Customs issued New York Ruling Letter (NY) to Mr. Harold Schierholt, President of Saydah. That ruling classified Saydah’s towel blanks under subheading 6302.60.0020, HTSUSA, as “Other” towels. The towels were not considered kitchen towels because they did not have a hang loop with the words “kitchen towel” printed on it. In HQ 964688, issued May 1, 2001, Customs upheld the New York decision, reiterating Customs position concerning the labeling of towel blanks, as stated in HQ 962455.

On May 9, 2001, Mr. Schierholt submitted a letter to the Office of Regulations and Rulings along with two new samples. Instead of complying with Customs labeling requirements, Mr. Schierholt proposed an alternative means of labeling the towels to indicate that they were kitchen towels. He proposed that the hang loop be sewn into one hem, as opposed to two hems, of the towel. One of the samples failed to meet Customs requirements outright because the label did not form a hang loop. As for the second sample, the label did form a hang loop but it was not sewn into two seams. Additionally, the labels of both samples were constructed of a material that allowed the labels to be easily removed. Moreover, the hang loop was perforated in a manner that rendered it useless as a hang loop. In a letter dated September 27, 2001, Customs responded to Mr. Schierholt’s request explaining why the new label configurations were inadequate. It must be noted that Mr. Schierholt’s request was not filed in accordance with Customs Regulations. Customs responded to Mr. Schierholt’s request as a courtesy only and any information provided in the letter was not binding.

Acting on behalf of Saydah, you submitted another letter to this office requesting the opportunity to have a meeting to discuss our letter dated September 27, 2001. The stated purpose of the letter was to meet to discuss new samples so that Saydah could decide whether or not to submit a ruling request. In so doing, Saydah was attempting to bypass the normal ruling request procedures. Having been informed to comply with Customs Regulations, the towels now under consideration were submitted with a ruling request.

You have submitted substantial evidence to demonstrate that the towels will be sold and marketed exclusively as kitchen towels, thus satisfying the first requirement. The country of origin labels are also properly marked to indicate that the towels are kitchen towels. However, the hang loop is not sewn into two hems or across the corner of the towel, as was the case in HQ 962455. To compensate for the failure to sew the hang loop into two hems, Saydah has double stitched the hang loop into the top hem of the towel. Moreover, this time the labels are constructed of substantial material that is not easily removable. Similarly, unlike the previous samples submitted, the hang loops are not perforated. The double stitching of the hang loop into the hem, in and of itself, does not satisfy the two-hem requirement. However, the double stitching combined with the strength and durability of the hang loop provides a degree of certainty that the labels will not be removed and the towels will, in fact, be marketed and sold as kitchen towels.


The towel blanks are classified in subheading 6302.60.0010, HTSUSA, which provides for “Bed linen, table linen and kitchen linen, Toilet linen and kitchen linen, of terry toweling or similar terry fabrics, of cotton, Towels: Dish.” The general column one rate of duty is 9.3 percent ad valorem, and the textile category is 369. There are no applicable quota/visa requirements for the products of World Trade Organization (”WTO”) members. The textile category number above applies to merchandise produced in non-WTO countries.

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 negotiations and changes, we suggest that the importer check, close to the time of shipment, the Status Report On Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), an issuance of the U.S. Customs Service, which is updated weekly and is available at the 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, the importer should contact the local Customs office prior to importing the merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.

This ruling is being issued under the assumption that the subject goods, in their condition as imported into the United States, conform to the facts and the description as set forth both in the ruling request and in this ruling. In the event that the facts or merchandise are modified in any way, you should bring this to the attention of Customs and you should resubmit for a new ruling in accordance with 19 CFR 177.2. You should also be aware that the material facts described in the foregoing ruling may be subject to periodic verification by the Customs Service.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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