Rulings, remedies and court proceedings for customs and trade professionals

CBP Grants Protest on House Wrap Classification

Imported house wrap, used during construction to protect the properties from water infiltration, should be properly classified as “Woven fabrics of synthetic filament yarn...” under the duty-free heading 5407 rather than as "Textile fabrics impregnated, coated, covered or laminated with plastics" under heading 5903, CBP said in a March 8 ruling.

The house wrap at issue was imported in 2017 at the Port of Charleston by Alpha Pro Tech under subheading 5903.90.1500 as “Textile fabrics impregnated, coated, covered or laminated with plastics other than those of heading 5902 ... Over 60 percent by weight of plastics.”

CBP at the Port of Charleston reclassified the items under heading 5407 because it found that its coating was clear and didn't meet the visibility requirements in the Chapter 59 notes. A review by the National Commodity Specialist Division found that the coating was opaque and asked CBP to reclassify the wraps under subheading 5903.90.2500 as “Textile fabrics impregnated, coated, covered or laminated with plastics, other than those of heading 5902: Other: Other: Other.”

Following the reclassification, Alpha Pro Tech submitted its protest, saying that the plastic coating on the products at issue is not visible to the naked eye "except for a change of color” and cited a 2006 ruling in support. Additional samples were later sent for laboratory analysis. The reports described the samples as “a swatch of white, woven fabric” which “was determined to be composed of strips made wholly of polypropylene ... coated, covered, impregnated, or laminated with plastic type material (polypropylene) on one side.”

During a conference with CBP, Alpha Pro Tech argued that the subject merchandise wasn't “coated on one side only with a white matte finish,” as the company had initially described. Instead, the wraps were white with an application of clear coating on one side and that the house wraps at-issue were identical to those in the 2006 ruling, which were ultimately classified within subheading 5407.20.0000.

There is no definition within the HTSUS of whether a coating is “visible to the naked eye,” the agency said. CBP has several factors to consider when determining what constitutes a coating that can be seen with the naked eye within the meaning of Chapter 59 notes. The 1994 ruling HQ 955031 said the "standard does not allow for the examiner to take the 'effects' of plastic into account. Plastic coating will often result in a change of color, increase in the fabric’s stiffness[,] or lend a sheen to fabric: these are factors which while indicative of the presence of plastic, may not be taken into account in determining whether the plastic itself is visible to the naked eye." CBP concluded that because "the clear plastic coating was not visible to the naked eye upon visual inspection," the house wraps at issue are excluded from classification within heading 5903 and that Alpha Pro Tech's protest should be granted.