Find out what the correct classification of a "water mattress" is and discover the correct customs classification methodology.
About the product
What is it?
The product to classify is an oval-shaped article measuring approximately 180 cm in length and 95 cm at its widest point.
What does it consist of?
It consists of a loosely crocheted textile fabric creating a net-like structure attached to an inflatable tube of plastics framing the textile fabric.
Any special features?
An inflatable pillow of plastics is attached to one side of the tube.
What's it made of?
The tube and pillow are completely encased by a woven textile fabric of synthetic filament yarn.
The external surface of the article is complete of textile materials, which prevail over the plastics in volume.
Especially, the net-like structure where a user lies is exclusive of textile material. However, plastics prevail over textile materials in weight and value.
What's its use?
The article is designed to float on water, similarly to a pneumatic water mattress.
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Law to apply
In order to ensure uniform application, it is necessary to adopt measures concerning the classification of the goods referred to by the HS System.
The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System of Tariff Nomenclature generally referred to as the Harmonized System (HS) is an international nomenclature defined by the World Customs Organization (WCO) for the classification of products.
It allows participating countries to classify traded goods on a common basis for Customs purposes. At the international level, the Harmonized System for classifying goods is a six-digit code system.
The HS comprises approximately 5,000 articles/product descriptions that appear as headings and subheadings, arranged in 96 chapters (Chapter 77 is reserved for future use) and grouped into 21 sections.
Of the six digits, the first two digits identify the chapter the good is classified in, e.g. 09 = Coffee, Tea, Mate and Spices:
The first four digits identify the heading, a finer breakdown of the chapter, e.g. 09.02 = Tea, whether flavoured.
The full six digits identify the sub-heading and are even more specific, e.g. 09.02.10 = Green tea (not fermented).
Up to the HS-6 digit level, all countries using the Harmonized System have the same codes.
In implementing the Harmonized System, most countries add additional digits for finer breakdown below the sub-heading level. Some add two digits, the tariff item level, at which duty rates are assigned. Others add two digits, the classification level.
This final level is generally for statistical purposes, consequently, unit(s) of measure are generally assigned here. Note that a few countries do not assign additional levels, consequently their duty rates are applied at the sub-heading level.
Application of the classification methodology
Let's apply the hierarchical (or "drill-down") method to reach our classification.
This method of classification follows the structure of the tariff. It is the most thorough method, as it ensures that all exceptions, exclusions and so on are noted and that the logic of the hierarchy is followed. On the downside, this method is more time-consuming and for novices, can be a little challenging. But your dedicated Customs Manager is here to assist and help you find the correct commodity code.
Step by Step
We know that the classification of goods in the Nomenclature is governed by well-known principles.
The first one is that "classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative Section or Chapter Notes and, provided such headings or Notes". Is this product called out in the heading, section or chapter and their notes?
We could not find a reference to this specific water mattress. But we note the following:
Plastics play an important role in relation to the use of the article as a floating device. Here we may consider Chapter 39. To be more specific, we consider classification, under HS heading 3926, as other articles of plastics.
The product contains a lot of textiles. The article appears to have the characteristics of a textile article when looked at, touched or lied on due to its external surface material of exclusively textile material. Chapter 63 provides for "Other made up textile articles; sets; worn clothing and worn textile articles".
If this is an either-or situation, then we need to figure out which one prevails: Textile or Plastic.
Looking at the Section, chapter and explanatory notes, we note:
Relevant here is Section XI (7) explains that the expression ‘made up’ means (f) assembled by sewing, gumming or otherwise (other than piece goods consisting of two or more lengths of identical material joined end to end and piece goods composed of two or more textiles assembled in layers, whether padded).
We feel we have a made-up article here, so this would suggest a preference for classification under Chapter 63.
It could be both, really
The goods are classifiable under two or more headings, classification shall be effected as follows: (a) The heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description.
HS heading 3926: Other articles of plastics and articles of other materials of headings 3901 to 3914
HS heading 6306: Tarpaulins, awnings and sunblinds; tents; sails for boats, sailboards or landcraft; camping goods
Here neither seems to be very good at describing the actual product, both are vague description, even though 6306 is a little more specific, based on use rather than characteristic.
We believe the solution lies in rule 3 (b) Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, ... shall be classified
as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character....
We think that the article is a composite good consisting of different materials (textile fabrics and plastics) within the meaning of GIR 3(b).
Essential Character determination
Classification under CN code 3926 90 97 as other articles of plastics is excluded because the article has the objective characteristics of a textile article when looked at, touched or lied on due to its external surface material of exclusively textile material.
Although plastics play an important role in relation to the use of the article as a floating device, the net-like textile fabrics in the middle are essential to allow a person to lie on the device while floating. Therefore, overall the textile materials (external surface material, crocheted net-like textile fabric) give the article its essential character within the meaning of GIR 3(b).
EU & HS explanatory Notes
Given the objective characteristics of the article (designed to be taken along to different places and to be used there temporarily, lightweight, easy to transport and to set up, similar to pneumatic mattresses) it is an article for camping. See also the CN Explanatory Note to heading 6306 90 00 and the Harmonized System Explanatory Notes to
6306, first paragraph, point (5). http://publications.europa.eu/resource/cellar/68d47143-51ee-11e9-a8ed-01aa75ed71a1.0006.01/DOC_1
The article is, therefore, to be classified under HS code 6306 90 as camping goods