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HQ 966053

May 24, 2004

CLA-2: RR:CR:TE 966053 SG


TARIFF NO.: 6204.33.5010

Ms. Joanna Cheung
Trade Specialist
Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office
1520 18th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036

RE: Request for Reconsideration of Classification; Woman’s Upper Body Garment

Dear Ms. Cheung:

This information letter is in response to correspondence, filed by your office, regarding a request for reconsideration of the classification of a woman’s upper body garment under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). A sample of the subject merchandise has been provided. It will be returned under separate cover.

You have identified Alex Apparel Group, Inc. as the consignee and Nankai Transport Int’l. as the Customs Broker for the subject merchandise. Based on this information, we note that the importer of record, Alex Apparel Group, Inc., is the party in interest with respect to this merchandise


The submitted garment, style 45211 consists of a women’s sleeveless dress and an upper body garment. Only the upper body garment is at issue. It is constructed of 100 percent sheer polyester woven fabric. The garment extends from the shoulders to slightly below the waist and is constructed from eight panels sewn together lengthwise. The garment features ¾ length sleeves with cuffs, a lapel, and a full front opening secured by a single button and loop closure. The lapel and sleeve cuffs are embellished with plastic beads.

The importer, Alex Apparel Group, Inc., initially entered the subject garment as a blouse. However, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), JFK Port, New York, disputed this classification. All parties agreed that the garment lacked sufficient coverage to be classified as a blouse. The port asserted that the garment was correctly classifiable as a jacket under quota category 635. The entry was rejected by CBP for want of a visa in category 635.

Your office disagrees with the port's decision that the garment is correctly classifiable as a jacket. You argue that the garment does not have three jacket features pursuant to the Guidelines for the Reporting of Imported Products in Various Textile and Apparel Categories, CIE 13/88 (Guidelines). You contend that category 659 is the correct textile category designation, although no specific classification is claimed. You merely assert it should be an "other garment".


What is the proper classification for the merchandise?


Classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (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 heading and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI may then be applied. The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (“ENs”) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. While neither legally binding nor dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).

We would like to emphasize that classification of goods in the HTSUS is based on the terms of the headings and not on a comparison of the textile restraint categories.

In a recent informed compliance publication, CBP provided basic definitions of textile terms which are commonly utilized in the HTSUS and by the trade community. These definitions are not intended to be definitive but rather to provide a basic guideline for classification purposes. In the informed compliance publication, jackets are defined in relevant part as:

Jackets – See “Suit-type jackets” and “Anoraks, windbreakers and similar articles.”

Suit-type jackets – (6103, 6104, 6203, 6204) – are garments generally designed for wear over a lighter outer garment, on business or social occasions when some degree of formality is required. They are tailored, have a full frontal opening without a closure or with a closure other than a slide fastener (zipper), and have sleeves (of any length). They have three or more panels (excluding sleeves), of which two are at the front, sewn together lengthwise. They do not extend below the mid-thigh and are not for wear over another coat, jacket or blazer. . . .

See, What Every Member of the Trade Community Should Know About: Apparel Terminology Under the HTSUS, 34 Cust. B. & Dec. 52, 153 (Dec. 27, 2000).

Furthermore, in circumstances where the identity of a garment is ambiguous for classification purposes, reference to The Guidelines for the Reporting of Imported Products in Various Textile and Apparel Categories, CIE 13/88, (Guidelines) is appropriate. We note that the Guidelines were developed and revised in accordance with the HTSUSA to ensure uniformity, to facilitate statistical classification, and to assist in the determination of the appropriate textile categories established for the administration of the Arrangement Regarding International Trade in Textiles.

In the instant case, we need not refer to the Guidelines for guidance in the classification of this garment as it is not a hybrid garment possessing characteristics of both jackets and blouses. The garment has the overall appearance of a jacket and is designed in such a manner so as to be suitable for such use. Moreover, all parties agreed that the garment lacked sufficient coverage to be classified as a blouse.

The jacket at issue is a women’s tailored jacket potentially classifiable under two headings: heading 6204, HTSUS, which provides for, inter alia, women’s suit-type jackets and blazers; and heading 6211, HTSUS, which provides for, inter alia, other women’s garments. Thus, we must decide the proper heading under which the garment before us is classifiable.

Heading 6204, HTSUS, covers, inter alia, women's suit-type jackets and blazers. The EN to heading 6204, HTSUS, states that the provisions of the EN to heading 6104, HTSUS, apply mutatis mutandis to the articles of heading 6204, HTSUS. The EN to heading 6104, HTSUS, states that the provisions of the EN to heading 6103, HTSUS, apply. EN 6103(C) provides that "jackets or blazers" have the same characteristics of suit coats and suit jackets described in Chapter Note 3 (a) and in Part (A), except that the outer shell (exclusive of the sleeves, and facings or collar, if any) may consist of three or more panels (of which two are at the front) sewn together lengthwise. With the exception of allowing jackets and blazers to be constructed of three panels, the garments have the same characteristics of suit jackets, i.e., they are designed to cover the upper body, have a full front opening with or without a closure (other than a zipper), do not extend beyond the mid-thigh area and are not for wear over other another coat, jacket or blazer.

The submitted garment is constructed of eight panels sewn together lengthwise. It covers the upper body, has a full front opening with a button and loop closure, extends to slightly below the waist, and is not for wear over another coat, jacket or blazer. In HQ 950651, dated December 31, 1991, CBP classified a men's lightweight 100 percent cotton woven garment as a jacket and determined that "[t]he fact that the fabric used in this garment's construction is rather lightweight does not preclude classification as a jacket. ... [J]ackets may come in various weights... ." See NY 888792, dated August 26, 1993, NY A86375, dated August 18, 1996, and NY G84162, dated December 4, 2000, in which CBP classified women's sheer garments as jackets. Accordingly, the fact that the garment is made of sheer fabric does not preclude classification as a jacket.

We note that the term "tailored" is frequently misconstrued to encompass only those garments which are constructed so as to fit the contours of the body. While this is an accurate definition, it is not all-inclusive. The Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing, May 1985, p.360, states, "(t)ailoring is just a refinement of standard sewing procedures, aimed at building permanent shape into the garment." Tailoring refers not only to the styling of a garment, but also to its workmanship. Styling refers to the cut and fit of a garment, whereas workmanship connotes the degree to which the garment has been finished (i.e., the spacing and size of stitch used, the finishing of seams so that no raw edges show, the pressing of seams to ensure a streamlined silhouette). Reader's Digest, at p.567. See HQ 952842, dated January 7, 1993.

It is this office's view that the garment before us is "tailored" and has the structured styling or tailoring generally found in garments used as jackets. In addition, it is worn over other apparel. Accordingly, it is designed to be and will be worn as a jacket. The fact that it is made for evening wear over a dress or gown and is of sheer fabric does not preclude classification as a suit-type jacket. We find that the garment before us has the characteristics of suit-type jackets classifiable under heading 6204, HTSUS.

Heading 6211, HTSUS, provides for “[t]rack suits, ski suits and swimwear; other garmentsjackets and jacket-type garments excluded from heading 6202.” The Explanatory Notes for this heading, however (which apply the provision of EN 61.14 mutatis mutandis), cover other garments "which are not included more specifically in the preceding headings of this Chapter."

Since the garment at issue is more specifically encompassed by the prior heading 6204, HTSUS, classification within heading 6211, HTSUS, is not appropriate


The subject merchandise is correctly classified in subheading 6204.33.5010, HTSUSA, which provides for, “Women's or girls' suits, ensembles, suit-type jackets, blazers, dresses, skirts, divided skirts, trousers, bib and brace overalls, breeches and shorts (other than swimwear): Suit-type jackets and blazers: Of synthetic fibers: Other: Women's.” The general column one duty rate is 27.3 percent ad valorem. The textile category is 635.

If an importer of record would like a binding ruling on his merchandise, the importer may request the port seek internal advice for a current transaction from CBP Headquarters or request a ruling for prospective transactions from:

The National Commodity Specialist Division Customs and Border Protection
One Penn Plaza, 10th Floor
New York, New York 10119.

A ruling request must be in writing and relate only to prospective shipments. The request must contain a complete statement of all relevant facts relating to the transaction, as well as sufficient information concerning the merchandise to permit a determination of its proper tariff classification.

The designated textile and apparel category may be subdivided into parts. If so, the 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 renegotiations and changes, to obtain the most current information available, we suggest the importer check, close to the time of shipment, the Textile Status Report for Absolute Quotas, which is available on the CBP Website at www.customs.treas.gov.

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 CBP office prior to importation of this
merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


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