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HQ 965821

December 9, 2002

CLA-2 RR:EC TE 965821 RH


TARIFF NO.: 6114.30.3060; 6212.90.0030

Mr. Samuel E. Schwisberg
General Counsel & Corporate Secretary
Med-Eng Systems, Inc.
2400 St. Laurent Blvd.
ON Canada K1G 6C4

RE: Request for Reconsideration of NY I81715; Personal Protection System; Protective Garments

Dear Mr. Schwisberg:

This is in reply to your letter of August 12, 2002, requesting reconsideration of New York Ruling Letter (NY) I81715, dated May 31, 2002, concerning the classification of a V-Top Personal Protection System. The system consists of a V-top, chaps, jock, arm and shin guards.

You contest Customs classification of the system as a set, and of the torso and chap, if imported separately, under subheading 6114.30.3060 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), as other garments, knitted or crocheted. You also contest the classification of the jock, if imported separately, under subheading 6212.90.0030, HTSUS.

However, you agree with Customs classification of the V-top arm and shin guards under subheading 3926.20.9050, HTSUS, as other articles of plastics and other materials of headings 3901 to 3914. Accordingly, we will not address those items in this ruling.


A description of the merchandise in NY I81715 reads:

The submitted sample is a V-Top Personal Impact Protection System consisting of a V-Top Torso, Chaps, Jock, Arms and Shin Guards. The V-

Top Torso protects the upper body (chest, shoulders and back), and is constructed of a combination of knit polyester fabric, knit polyester mesh fabric, woven nylon fabric and impact resistant polypropylene plastic. The V-Top Chaps protect the hips and thighs and is [sic] constructed of a combination of knit polyester fabric, knit polyester mesh fabric and impact resistant polypropylene plastic. The V-Top Jock protects the genitals and is constructed of woven nylon fabric, knit polyester mesh fabric and impart resistant polypropylene plastic. . . .

The V-Top Personal Impact Protective System is used by police forces, correctional services and special tactical squads for crowd management or when physically engaging opponents. It is a modular system that respects the inter-relationship of muscles while in movement, and obtains an optimal balance between impact protection and flexibility. . . .

In NY I81715, Customs held that neither the knit fabric nor polypropylene plastic imparted the essential character to the V-top torso or chaps, and those items were classified in accordance with GRI 3(c), under subheading 6114.30.3060, HTSUS.

We further found that the nylon fabric imparted the essential character to the V-top jock, and it was classified under subheading 6212.90.0030, HTSUS, as an article similar to girdles, corsets or braces.

When the items in question are imported as a set, we found that the V-top Torso imparted the essential character to the set and it was classified under subheading 6114.30.3060, HTSUS, in accordance with GRI 3(b).

In your request for reconsideration, you state that the impact resistant polypropylene plastic gives the items their essential character in that it provides protection from blunt impacts and protects police and correctional officers working in life-threatening situations such as riots and violent protests.


What is the correct classification of the items in question?


Classification of goods under the HTSUS is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes. Where goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, the remaining GRIs will be applied.

The two primary headings at issue are 6114, HTSUS, which provides for “Other garments, knitted or crocheted” and heading 3926, HTSUS, which covers “Other articles of plastics and articles of other materials of headings 3901 to 3914.”

Although riot-type garments are not provided for under a specific tariff heading, guidance as to their classification is set out in the EN. The EN to heading 6114 (Other garments, knitted or crotcheted) includes, inter alia:

(1) Aprons, boiler suits (coveralls), smocks and other protective clothing of a kind worn by mechanics, factory workers, surgeons, etc. (Emphasis added).

As evidenced by prior rulings, the items in question are clearly protective clothing. In NY I85512, dated September 16, 2002, Customs classified a man’s protective garment containing hard plastic and soft padding at the front, shoulders and arms, and soft plastic padding at the back under subheading 6114.30.3060. See also, NY H86579, dated January 18, 2002 (Customs classified a bulletproof carrier resembling a vest under subheading 6211.43.0091, HTSUS. In that case we stated that “The carrier will sometimes be imported with the [steel] inserts and other times without, however the classification will remain the same); NY F87599, dated June 13, 2000 (Customs classified a police vest constructed of a knit mesh 100 percent polyester fabric shell covering protective foam and plastic plates covering the front and back upper torso, under subheading 6114.30.3070); NY B86958, dated July 15, 1997 (Customs classified a bullet resistant vest containing ballistic panels stated to contain aramid fiber enclosed in a rip stop fabric which were inserted into the outershell of the vest under subheading 6211.42.0070, HTSUS).

Additionally, Customs has long held that the outer shell of a garment imparts its essential character. HQ 959732, dated April 28, 1997, citing T.D. 91-78; HQ 963596, dated January 7, 2002. In this case, the outer shell of the items is composed of both textile material and plastic. Thus, classification of the items hinges on a GRI 3 analysis. GRI 3(a) directs classification be based upon the most specific heading, however, when two or more headings each refer to only part of the components in a composite good, each heading is to be considered equally specific. Under GRI 3(b), HTSUS, the material or component that imparts the essential character to an article will determine classification. See, HQ 956123, dated July 14, 1994 (When a textile belt is imported with a garment and it is intended to be sold at the wholesale and retail level as a single unit, the articles will be considered composite goods for tariff classification purposes - in this case a woman's denim romper and textile belt were classifiable under GRI 3(b) as a cotton garment); HQ 954427, dated October 13, 1993 (A women's skirt
with a removable slip-like lining was classifiable under GRI 3(b) in heading 6204, HTSUS, as a skirt).

You argue that the items are classifiable under subheading 3926.20.9050, HTSUS, because the molded polypropylene plastic is the most prominent feature. The literature you submitted reads, in part:

In an effort to optimize the protection while maintaining an acceptable weight, the impact protection provided by the system is layered. This means that the protection level is divided into priority zones whereby each body region is protected against the threat that it is most likely to face. Extensive research indicates that over 80% of impacts occur against the frontal region, 15% against the lateral region and 5% against the rear. Protection is therefore concentrated and distributed accordingly, i.e., focused on the frontal part of the body, including “high” levels of protection to the lateral regions but lessening towards the rear of the body. . . .

A visual examination of the samples submitted shows that the outer surface of the chaps consist of an equal, if not greater percentage of the plastic material, whereas the outer shell of the top contains a greater percentage of textile material, although the front is covered with a large removable plastic shield. After examining the samples, we agree with the National Import Specialist (NIS) that both the plastic and textile components equally provide essential characteristics to the items. The plastic provides necessary protection to the wearer and the textile component gives the articles their form and also provides some protection. Additionally, as pointed out in the literature you submitted the textile components are designed to allow the “required flexibility points of the body to remain agile and flexible.” Thus, under the principles of GRI 3(c), we find that the V-top and chaps are classifiable under subheading 6114.30.3060, HTSUS. We also agree with the NIS that when the items are imported as a set, it is the V-top that gives the set its essential character.

Finally, we further find that Customs correctly classified the jock strap, imported separately, under subheading 6212.90.0030, HTSUS. See NY 801913, dated October 4, 1994 (A textile athletic supporter imported with a protective cup made of plastic with a rubber-like cushioned edge is classified under subheading 6212.90.0030. The cup imported with the supporter is considered as a part of the supporter and classified as such). See also, HQ 086505, dated April 12, 1990.


NY I81715 is AFFIRMED. The V-Top Personal Protection System, and the V-Top Torso and Chaps imported separately, are classifiable under subheading 6114.30.3060, HTSUS, which provides for “Other garments, knitted or crocheted: Of man-made fibers: Other, Other: Men’s or boys’.” The general column one rate of duty is 15.1 percent ad valorem.

The V-Top Jock, if imported separately, is classifiable under subheading 6212.90.0030, HTSUS, which provides for “Brassieres, girdles, corsets, braces, suspenders, garters and similar articles and parts thereof, whether or not knitted or crocheted: Other, Of man-made fibers or man-made fibers and rubber or plastics.” The general column one rate of duty is 6.7 percent ad valorem.


Myles B. Harmon, Acting Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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