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HQ H017698

November 30, 2007



TARIFF NO.: 6302.31.9010; 6302.31.9020

Ms. Antoinette McKnight
American Shipping Company, Inc.
50 Moonachie Road, 5th Floor
Moonachie, New Jersey 07074

RE: Ruling Request; classification of Egyptian cotton sheet set

Dear Ms. McKnight:

On September 25, 2007, this office received your correspondence, dated August 30, 2007, requesting a binding ruling of an Egyptian cotton sheet set imported by your client, Welspun USA. Our ruling follows.


Welspun USA intends to import a 100 percent cotton sheet set. It contains a flat sheet, fitted sheet and two pillowcases. They are made from woven fabric that is not printed and not napped. The open end of the pillowcases and the top edge of the flat sheet are folded to form a 4-inch wide self hem. The finished hem features a line of satin stitch embroidery creating a leaf and vine or laurel design. This decorative stitching enhances the appearance of the set. Underlying the embroidery stitches is an additional stitch that we believe is used by the embroidering machine to track to the end of the leaf and then embroider back to the point of origin on the vine. It appears that all of the stitching was performed in the single embroidering/hemming operation.


What is the proper classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) for the imported sheet set?


Classification under the HTSUS is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). 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 GRIs 2 through 6 may then be applied in order. The HTSUS provisions under consideration in this case are as follows:

6302 Bed linen, table linen, toilet linen and kitchen linen:

Other bed linen:
6302.31 Of cotton:
Containing any embroidery, lace, braid, edging, trimming, piping or appliqué work:

6302.31.50 Not napped

6302 Bed linen, table linen, toilet linen and kitchen linen:

Other bed linen:
6302.31 Of cotton:


6302.31.90 Not napped

The principle issue in this case is whether or not the decorative stitching on the hem of the subject merchandise should be classified as “embroidery” as contemplated by the HTSUS. Headquarters Letter Ruling (HQ) 955576, dated June 1, 1994, articulated the definition of “embroidery.”

Before discussing the factors considered in identifying embroidery, it is worth noting the point made in HQ 955576 that just because a particular stitch is considered an embroidery stitch does not necessarily mean that its use automatically creates “embroidery.” See also, United States v. Grass Brothers, 13 Ct. Cust. 33, 35, T.D. 40866 (1925) (stating, “Embroidery is made by stitching, but all stitching is not embroidery.”); Bruce Duncan, Co. v. United States, 52 Cust. Ct. 179, 182, C.D. 2458 (1964). HQ 955576 further notes that, “to constitute embroidery there must be by needlework processes an ornamental addition superimposed upon a previously completed fabric or article” [emphasis added] (citing United States v. Field & Co., 10 Ct. Cust. 183, 190, T.D. 38550 (1920). From the aforementioned and additional court cases, the three main factors considered in determining whether or not a stitch constitutes “embroidery” for classification purposes are: (1) whether the stitching is ornamental; (2) whether the stitching creates or enhances a design or pattern; and (3) whether the stitching is superimposed upon a previously completed fabric or article or is stitching required to create or complete the fabric or article. With regards to the third factor, HQ 955576 notes that the function or purpose of the stitch is a fundamental aspect of the definition of embroidery developed by the relevant case law.

The stitching at issue here certainly qualifies as embroidery stitching, as it is decorative and enhances the design of the subject merchandise. However, its function is also to complete the hem. As noted above, the embroidery stitching is not added to a previously completed article. Instead, it appears that the embroidery stitching is added to the incomplete hem along with an underlying stitching that allows the embroidering machine to trace the embroidery pattern along the hemline. Thus, the primary function of the embroidery stitching in this case is to complete the article. Its purpose is not primarily ornamental. See also HQ 965033, dated July 16, 2002 (holding that an embroidery stitch superimposed on the hem was indeed necessary to complete the article because the stitch underlying the hem constituted a basting stitch that would not maintain the hem over the course of repeated use). Consequently, the embroidery stitching used on the subject sheets and pillowcase does not constitute “embroidery” for classification purposes.

With respect to the instant merchandise, at the heading level, we do not have “goods put up in sets for retail sale” within the meaning of GRI 3. Nor do we have sets at the subheading level because the goods are individually described in subheading 6302.31.90, which provides for bed linen of cotton, other, not napped. Therefore, the instant merchandise is not considered a “set” for classification purposes, and will be classified separately.


By application of GRI 1, the Welspun USA 100 percent cotton sheet set is classified in heading 6302, HTSUS, as bed linen.

The pillowcases are specifically provided for in subheading 6302.31.9010, HTSUSA, which provides for: “Bed linen, table linen, toilet linen and kitchen linen: Of cotton: Other: Not napped: Pillowcases, other than bolster cases.” The fitted and flat sheets are specifically provided for in subheading 6302.31.9020, HTSUSA, which provides for: “Bed linen, table linen, toilet linen and kitchen linen: Of cotton: Other: Not napped: Sheets.” The general column one rate of duty, for merchandise classified in these subheadings is 6.7 percent ad valorem.

Duty rates are provided for your convenience and subject to change. The text of the most recent HTSUS and the accompanying duty rates are provided on the World Wide Web at www.usitc.gov.

Merchandise classifiable in subheadings 6302.31.9010, HTSUSA, falls within textile category 360. Merchandise classifiable in subheading 6302.31.9020, HTSUSA, falls within textile category 361. With the exception of certain products of China, quota/visa requirements are no longer applicable for merchandise which is the product of World Trade Organization (WTO) member countries. The textile category numbers above apply to merchandise produced in non-WTO member-countries. Quota and visa requirements are the result of international agreements that are subject to frequent renegotiations and changes. To obtain the most current information on quota and visa requirements applicable to this merchandise, we suggest you check, close to the time of shipment, the “Textile Status Report for Absolute Quotas” which is available on our web site at www.cbp.gov. For current information regarding possible textile safeguard actions on goods from China and related issues, we refer to the web site of the Office of Textiles and Apparel of the Department of Commerce at www.otexa.ita.doc.gov.


Gail A. Hamill, Chief
Tariff Classification and Marking Branch

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