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HQ 965401

April 22, 2002

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 965401 DBS


TARIFF NO.: 8708.99.80

Mr. Floyd Griffith
Allison Corporation
15 Okner Parkway
Livingston, NJ 07039-1693

RE: After-market automotive seat covers.

Dear Mr. Griffith:

This is in response to your letter, dated December 6, 2001, to the Director, Customs National Commodity Specialist Division, New York, requesting classification, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), of “universal fit” after-market automotive seat covers. Your letter was submitted to this office for reply. We regret the delay.


The merchandise subject to this ruling consists of four types of universal fit, after-market automotive seat covers of cotton (Ref. # 87-2693) or polyester (Ref. # 87-2694) designed to fit over bucket-style seats of automobiles.


What is the classification of the universal fit after-market automotive seat covers?


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.

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.

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).

“Accessory” is not defined in the HTSUS. Thus, we employ the common meaning of the term, as 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.

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.” The only other relevant provision is heading 6304, HTSUS, which provides for other furnishing articles. The EN 63.04 states that the heading 6304 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."). Thus, heading 8708, HTSUS, prevails over heading 6304, HTSUS. The merchandise is accordingly classified in subheading 8708.99.80, HTSUS. As we have established that automobile accessories fit directly on automobile seats, they are more narrowly defined as such than as other furnishing articles.

Customs has classified other after-market automotive seat covers as accessories under heading 8708, HTSUS, which provides for parts and accessories of the motor vehicles of headings 8701-8705, 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 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.”


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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