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HQ 966800

February 3, 2004

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 966800 KBR


TARIFF NO.: 3307.20.00; 3307.90.00

Patricia Malone
Gilbert International Forwarding
5777 W. Century Blvd., Suite 350
Los Angeles, CA 90045

RE: Cosmetic Towelettes

Dear Ms. Malone:

This is in reference to your letter on behalf of Zephyr Pacific Distributors Ltd., to the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, Director, National Commodity Specialist Division, New York, dated September 12, 2003, in which you requested a binding ruling, concerning the classification, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), of several types of cosmetic towelettes under the brand name Comodynes ®. Samples of the products were submitted. One type of towelette, “Original Make-up Remover,” was separately ruled on in NY J89299 (October 20, 2003), and is not subject to this ruling. The remaining types of towelettes, “self-tanning,” “aftersun,” “whiting – vit C,” “deodorant” and “dermatological” were referred to this office for reply.


The articles involved are five types of non-woven towelettes individually packaged in a sealed foil packet. Each towelette is constructed from non-woven textile material and is impregnated with a specific cosmetic or toiletry product. The “self-tanning” towelette contains ingredients to produce a natural and uniform color on the face and body. The “aftersun” towelette contains ingredients to moisturize the skin after exposure to sun. The “whiting – vit C” towelette contains vitamin C and Rumex extract, among other ingredients, for use in reducing dark spots, lightening the tone and increasing the firmness of the skin. The “deodorant” towelette contains ingredients that are intended to be applied to the body to cleanse and neutralize body odor. The “dermatological” towelette contains ingredients for use on skin prone to acne. Each of the towelettes measures approxiimately 8 inches by 8 inches, except for the deodorant towelette which measures approximately 8 inches by 4.8 inches.

You maintain the towelettes should be classified in subheading 5603.11.00, HTSUS, as nonwovens, whether or not impregnated, coated covered or laminated, of man-made filament, weighing not more than 25 g/m2.


Whether the subject cosmetic towelettes are classified as a non-woven towelette or as a cosmetic product.


Merchandise is classifiable under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). The systematic detail of the HTSUS is such that most goods are classified by application of GRI 1, that is, 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 GRIs may then be applied.

In interpreting the headings and subheadings, Customs looks to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs). Although not legally binding, they provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS. It is Customs practice to follow, whenever possible, the terms of the ENs when interpreting the HTSUS. See T.D. 89-90, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

5603 Nonwovens, whether or not impregnated, coated, covered or laminated:

Of man-made filaments:

5603.11.00 Weighing not more than 25 g/m²

3304 Beauty or make-up preparations and preparations for the care of the skin (other than medicaments), including sunscreen or sun tan preparations; manicure or pedicure preparations:



3304.99.50 Other

3307 Pre-shave, shaving or after-shave preparations, personal deodorants, bath preparations, depilatories and other perfumery, cosmetic or toilet preparations, not elsewhere specified or included; prepared room deodorizers, whether or not perfumed or having disinfectant properties:

3307.20.00 Personal deodorants and antiperspirants

3307.90.00 Other

Note 1 to Chapter 56, HTSUS excludes from this chapter:

(a) Wadding, felt or nonwovens, impregnated, coated or covered with substances or preparations (for example, perfumes or cosmetics of chapter 33, soaps or detergents of heading 3401 ...) where the textile material is present merely as a carrying medium....

This exclusion clearly applies to the instant merchandise. It is the impregnating substance which is significant to the consumer; the nonwoven textile material merely acts as a means of conveyance. Classification in heading 5603, therefore, is incorrect. HQ 085809 (November 7, 1989). See, e.g., NY 897538 (May 27, 1994), NY J87145 (September 2, 2003), NY 810044 (June 20, 1995), NY F88830 (August 18, 2000), and NY J87912 (September 12, 2003); all finding that towelettes impregnated with cleaning agents were not classified in Chapter 56 but were classified in Chapter 34. See, conversely, NY J89835 (October 29, 2003) finding that the nonwoven disposable cleaning towelettes which had no impregnated cosmetic compounds were classified in heading 5603, HTSUS.

The language for heading 3304, HTSUS, specifically includes sunscreen and sun tan preparations. The ENs for this heading describe all the products using the word “preparations.” In comparison, Note 4 for Chapter 33 defines heading 3307 stating:

The expression “perfumery, cosmetic or toilet preparations” in heading 3307 applies, inter alia, to the following products: scented sachets; odoriferous preparations which operate by burning; perfumed papers and papers impregnated or coated with cosmetics; contact lens or artificial eye solutions; wadding, felt and nonwovens, impregnated, coated or covered with perfume or cosmetics; animal toilet preparations. [Underline emphasis in original. Bolding emphasis added.]

See EN 33.07(V)(5).

A tariff term that is not defined in the HTSUS or described in the ENs is construed in accordance with its common or commercial meaning. Nippon Kogaku (USA) Inc. v. United States, 69 CCPA 89, 673 F.2d 380 (1982). Common and commercial meaning may be determined by consulting dictionaries, lexicons, scientific authorities and other reliable sources. C.J. Tower & Sons v. United States, 69 CCPA 128, 673 F.2d 1268 (1982). “Cosmetic” is defined by the Encylopædia Britannica (Online) as:
any of several preparations (excluding soap) that are applied to the human body for beautifying, preserving, or altering the appearance or for cleansing, colouring, conditioning, or protecting the skin, hair, nails, lips, eyes, or teeth.

This definition of cosmetic includes the materials and purpose of the instant towelettes.

The use of the term “preparations” in heading 3304, HTSUS, is a more general description of only the cosmetic substance - referring as if to a lotion-like substance. Heading 3307, HTSUS, pursuant to Note 4 to Chapter 33, provides a more specific description of the instant article: a cosmetic impregnated within a nonwoven material. See HQ 085809 (November 7, 1989) and NY D85336 (December 11, 1998). Further, as to the deodorant towelette, subheading 3307.20.00, HTSUS, specifically provides for personal deodorants and antiperspirants. See NY 807493 (March 30, 1995) and NY J87761 (August 27, 2003).

Therefore, based on the above analysis, we find that the “deodorant” towelette is classified in subheading 3307.20.00, HTSUS, as cosmetic or toilet preparations, not elsewhere specified or included, personal deodorants and antiperspirants. The remaining four types of towelettes, “self-tanning,” “aftersun,” “whiting – vit C,” and “dermatological,” are classified in subheading 3307.90.00, HTSUS, as cosmetic or toilet preparations, not elsewhere specified or included, other.


In accordance with the above discussion, the “deodorant” towelette is classified in subheading 3307.20.00, HTSUS, as cosmetic or toilet preparations, not elsewhere specified or included, personal deodorants and antiperspirants. The “self-tanning,” “aftersun,” “whiting – vit C,” and “dermatological,” are classified in subheading 3307.90.00, HTSUS, as cosmetic or toilet preparations, not elsewhere specified or included, other.


Myles B. Harmon, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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