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HQ 966058

February 21, 2003

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 966058 JFS


TARIFF NO.: 6302.60.0020

Carl D. Cammarata, Esq.
Law Offices, George R. Tuttle
Three Embarcadero Center, Suite 1160
San Francisco, California 94111

RE: Salon/Barber Towels; Heading 6302, HTSUSA; Not Heading 6307, HTSUSA.

Dear Mr. Cammarata:

This is in response to your request for a binding ruling, dated November 5, 2002, regarding the classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) of a salon towel.


The article under consideration, referred to as a “protective salon cloth,” is made from 100 percent cotton terry fabric. It is hemmed on all four sides and measures approximately 14 inches by 30 inches. The “protective salon cloth” will be sold to barbershops and hair salons. The cloths will be used for wrapping around a patron’s neck and under or over the plastic protective cape to protect on the patron’s skin and clothes from cut hair and liquids. The cloths will be manufactured in, and imported from, China.


Whether the “protective salon cloth” is classified as a towel?


Classification under the HTSUSA is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI’s). 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.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (EN’s) represent the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level (for the 4 digit headings and the 6 digit subheadings) and facilitate classification under the HTSUSA by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and GRI. The EN’s, although not dispositive or legally binding, provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUSA, and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings.

Subheading 6302.60, HTSUSA, provides for: “Bed linen, table linen, toilet linen and kitchen linen: Toilet linen and kitchen linen, of terry toweling or similar terry fabrics, of cotton.” EN 63.02, paragraph (3), addressing toilet linen, offers guidance as to some of the merchandise properly classified in heading 6302, HTSUSA. The EN describe toilet linen as “e.g., hand or face towels (including roller towels), bath towels, beach towels, face cloths and toilet gloves.” “The term toilet linen includes any towel used for dressing, grooming or bathing purposes.” Home Fashion Products, Inc., et al., v. United States, 18 C.I.T. 93 (1994). Salons and barbershops use towels for any number of purposes during the hair styling process, such as drying hair, drying skin, protecting against hair and fluids, wiping off surfaces, etc. Cutting and styling of hair are considered grooming and towels are an essential item used throughout the hair cutting/styling process. Thus, the term “toilet linen” would encompass towels used in salons and barbershops.

The term “towel” is not defined in the tariff or in the EN. The definition you provided states as follows:

A piece of absorbent cloth or paper for wiping or drying things, or for drying oneself after washing or bathing.

Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition. The instant article is an absorbent cloth and it will be used for drying things, e.g., the patron’s neck. The salon cloth is a towel.

You contend that the “protective salon cloth” is not a “towel,” but is, instead, a “flat protective sheet” classified in subheading 6307.90.9989, HTSUSA, which provides for: “Other made up articles, including dress patterns: Other: Other: Other.” However, a search on Customs Rulings Online Search System (CROSS), did not disclose any Headquarters rulings classifying towels in subheading 6307.90.9989, HTSUSA. Some examples of articles classified in this heading are insulated food and beverage bags, drawstring bags or pouches, pad folios, and textile components used to make luggage and baseball caps.

You cite to the EN as support for your position that the “salon cloth” is classified in subheading 6307.90.9989, HTSUSA. Paragraph (8) to EN 63.07 provides, in part, that made up articles for the purposes of heading 6307, HTSUSA, include “[f[lat protective sheets (excluding tarpaulin and ground sheets of heading 63.06).” You argue that the “salon cloth” is not more specifically provided for elsewhere in the nomenclature and is similar to “protective sheets” listed in the EN to heading 6307.

In HQ 950036, dated November 5, 1991, Customs classified a tarpaulin constructed of a “woven 100% high density polyethylene monofilament fabric, hemmed with a textile strap sewn in for reinforcement and [having] brass grommets attached two feet apart along the hem.” The article had an open mesh construction that caused it to not be waterproof. The purpose of the article was to provide shade. Customs found that the tarpaulin could not be classified in heading 6306 as a tarpaulin because it was not waterproof. Customs concluded that it was a flat protective sheet, was not more specifically provided for elsewhere in the nomenclature, and was, therefore, classified in heading 6307, HTSUSA.

The EN to heading 6306 provide guidance as to what is meant by “flat protective sheets.” Heading 6306 provides for “tarpaulins, awnings and sunblinds; tents; sails for boats, sailboards or landcraft; camping goods.” The EN provide as follows:

This heading covers a range of textile articles usually made from strong, close-woven canvas.

Tarpaulins. These are used to protect goods stored in the open or loaded on ships, wagons, lorries, etc., against bad weather. They are generally made of coated or uncoated man-made fibre fabrics, or heavy to fairly heavy canvas (of hemp, jute, flax or cotton). They are waterproof. Those made of canvas are usually rendered waterproof or rotproof by treatment with tar or chemicals. Tarpaulins are generally in the form of rectangular sheets, hemmed along the sides, and may be fitted with eyelets, cords, straps, etc. Tarpaulins which are specially shaped (e.g., for covering hayricks, decks of small vessels, lorries, etc.) also fall in this heading provided they are flat.

Tarpaulins should not be confused with loose covers for motor-cars, machines, etc., made of tarpaulin material to the shape of these articles, nor with flat protective sheets of lightweight material made up in a similar manner to tarpaulins (heading 63.07).

Emphasis added. Thus, the EN indicate that “flat protective sheets” are similar to tarpaulins, just lighter in weight. The instant towels are not remotely similar to tarpaulins of heading 6306, HTSUSA, nor are they similar to flat protective sheets of heading 6307, HTSUSA, which are similar to tarpaulins.

Customs has routinely classified towels similar to the instant towels in heading 6302, HTSUSA. In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 964235, dated July 26, 2002, Customs ruled that similar towels marketed to salons and barbershops were properly classified in subheading 6302.60.0020, HTSUSA, as toilet linen. You attempt to distinguish this ruling, by arguing that:

This ruling involved the classification of 100% cotton terry towels, similar in size to the instant Cloths but designed and used for a different purpose. It should be noted that, apart from Salon Cloths, beauty salons and barber shops also use other types of towels for drying and wiping in such treatments as shampoos, hair coloring and dyeing, cream applications, etc. Implicit in the ruling’s description is the finding that the articles were ordinary “towels” which were used as such. The ruling properly classified the towels, in accordance with their character and use, in HTS 6302.60.0020, as Towels, Other [than dish towels].

Although the towels in the ruling were seemingly similar to the instant Protective Cloths, their different uses gave them a different “class or kind” standing, inasmuch as “towels” are used for wiping and drying and not as “protective coverings” for falling hair and liquids. The significance of this difference has already been stated in relation to the authoritative Quon Quon and the Carborundum decisions reviewed above. To repeat the Carborundum criterion, the Protective Cloths and towels are not used “in the same manner as the merchandise which defines the class or kind of merchandise [towels].”

The only discernable difference between the towels considered in HQ 964235 and the instant “salon cloths” is their dimensions. The towels in HQ 964235 ranged in size from 13 ½ inches by 24 ½ inches to 15 ½ inches by 25 ½ inches. See also 964688, dated May 1, 2001, and HQ 962455, dated June 30, 1999 (classifying towels 16 inches by 25 inches in subheading 6302.60.0010, HTSUSA). The “salon cloth” is only five inches longer than the towels considered in these previous Customs rulings. This size difference does not transform what would otherwise be a towel into a “flat protective sheet.”

Your argument that the “salon cloths” are not used in the same manner as towels is not persuasive. You state that the salon cloths are used “almost exclusively for wrapping around a patron’s neck and over the plastic protective cape to protect cut hair and liquids from falling on the patron’s skin and clothes.” However, the “salon cloth” is suitable for this purpose because it has same properties as a standard salon towel, i.e., it is soft, absorbent, and reusable.

You argue that the “Protective Salon Cloths” are not “towels” for HTSUSA classification purposes. You rely upon United States v. Carborundum Company, 63 CCPA 98, C.A.D. 1172, 536 F.2d 373 (1976), to distinguish the “Protective Salon Cloths” from “towels.” In Carborundum, the Court identified certain factors to determine whether a particular good belongs to a class or kind of goods. Those criteria include the general physical characteristics of the article, the expectation of the ultimate purchaser, the channels of trade, the environment of sale (accompanying accessories, manner of advertisement and display), the use in the same manner as merchandise which defines the class, economic practicality of so using the import, and recognition in the trade of this use. You contend that “the expectations of the ultimate purchasers are different, in that the purchasers do not buy them for wiping and drying, and water absorption is not a factor.” This argument is difficult to accept. If the “salon cloth” was not absorbent – was constructed of plastic -- water and other fluids would seep between the “salon cloth” and the patron’s neck and proceed to trickle down his or her back. Likewise, if the “salon cloth” was not absorbent fluids that spilled, dripped, or otherwise landed on the “salon cloth” would roll off onto the floor, the patron’s clothes, or the stylist’s clothes. The “salon cloth” by absorbing fluids acts to stop the fluids before they can cause any harm or discomfort. In effect, by absorbing fluids, the “salon cloth” acts in the same manner as a towel.

You cite United States v. Quon Quon Company, 46 CCPA 70, C.A.D. 699 (1959), for the proposition that “use can and should be always considered to determine the identify [sic] of the article.” The Court did hold that use is of paramount importance when determining the identity of an article. Id. at 73. Regardless, the instant “salon cloth” is going to be used as a towel. It will be used to absorb fluids, thereby protecting the patron. The fact that it protects the patron does not make it a “flat protective sheet.” It is merely a towel performing its absorbent function.

The stated purpose of the “salon cloth” is to protect, by absorbing, against fluids, and to protect against cut hair. You concede that the “salon cloth” may also be laid out as a protective place for the stylists to place their instruments, over the backs of styling chairs for added comfort, or used to whisk off hair or remove excess liquids, or for steaming to provide moist heat as a pre-treatment for shaving, waxing, and facial conditioning. However, you argue that these are fugitive uses. To the contrary, these are not fugitive uses, these are uses that are common for salon towels.

The instant article is a towel. It is a towel that is the right size to be placed over the patron’s shoulders and tucked under the protective cape. The “salon cloth” will be used to absorb fluids and to protect against hair clippings, just as other salon towels are used. The fact that the “salon cloth” is the right size to be placed on a patron’s shoulders does not prevent it from being a towel. The “salon cloth” is classified in subheading 6302.60.0020, HTSUSA, which provides for: “Bed linen, table linen, toilet linen and kitchen linen: Toilet linen and kitchen linen, of terry toweling or similar terry fabrics, of cotton, Towels: Other.”


The salon towel is classified in subheading 6302.60.0020, HTSUSA, which provides for: “Bed linen, table linen, toilet linen and kitchen linen: Toilet linen and kitchen linen, of terry toweling or similar terry fabrics, of cotton, Towels: Other.” The general column one rate of duty is 9.2 percent ad valorem and the textile quota category is 363.

The designated textile and apparel category may be subdivided into parts. If subdivided, any quota and visa 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, to obtain the most current information available, we suggest your client check, close to the time of shipment, the Status Report On Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels) an internal issuance of the U.S. Customs Service which is updated weekly and is available for inspection at your local Customs Service office. The Status Report On Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels) is also available on the Customs Electronic Bulletin Board (CEBB) which can be found on the U.S. Customs Web site at www.customs.gov.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the restraint (quota/visa) categories, your client should contact your local Customs office prior to importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


Myles B. Harmon, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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