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HQ 085483

September 21, 1989

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 085483 JMH


TARIFF NO.S: 9021.90.80, 9019.10.60, 9506.91.30, 7326.90.90

Joanne I. Lashley
Marketing and Sales
Lashaw Distributors Ltd.
124-7011 Elmbridge Way
Richmond, B.C.

RE: "InverTrac" inversion traction system

Dear Ms. Lashley:

Your letter of July 26, 1989, requesting a ruling under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUSA) on the classification of your "InverTrac" traction system has been forwarded to this office for a reply.


The apparatus is known as the "InverTrac" and is to be used to reverse the effects of gravity upon a person's spine. The device enables a person to hang upside down, thereby relieving pressure on the spinal vertebrae and discs. There are suggested exercises that may be performed while hanging from the apparatus, after medical consultation. It is recommended that the InverTrac be used for no longer than two to three minutes at a time.

The InverTrac is made of steel tubing. It has hinged parts that move when pressure is exerted upon them, but it is not mechanical. It is to be sold through medical professionals. The apparatus is imported from Canada.


Whether the "InverTrac" is classifiable under heading 9021, HTSUSA as "Orthopedic appliances...," heading 9019, HTSUSA, as "Mechano-therapy appliances...," heading 9506, HTSUSA, as "Articles and equipment for gymnastics, athletics, other sports...," or under heading 7326, HTSUSA, "Other articles or iron or steel..."


The classification of goods under the HTSUSA begins with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 states that classification is "determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes." In this instance there are four competing headings: 9021, 9019, 9506, and 7326. The headings state:

9021 Orthopedic appliances... and other appliances which are worn or carried, or implanted in the body, to compensate for a defect or disability; parts and accessories thereof...

9021.90.80 Other

9019 Mechano-therapy appliances...part and accessories thereof...

9019.10.60 Other

9506 Articles and equipment for gymnastics, athletics, other sports...not specified elsewhere in this chapter...parts and accessories thereof...

9506.91.30 Gymnasium or other exercise articles and equipment...Other

7326 Other articles of iron or steel...

7326.90.90 Other

The importer suggests that heading 9021, HTSUSA, which describes orthopedic appliances, is the applicable classification. This suggestion stems from the contention that the "InverTrac" is advertised as an orthopedic appliance and is to be sold through medical professionals.

The Explanatory Notes (EN's) to Chapter 90 are instructive. EN's are not dispositive but are to be looked to for guidance when interpreting the HTSUSA. 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989). EN 90.21 (I), Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, Vol. 4, p. 1497, states that orthopedic appliances "are appliances for (i) Preventing or correcting bodily
deformities; or (ii) Supporting or holding organs following an illness or operation." Suspension from a device to relieve back pain does not fall within the coverage of this heading.

Also mentioned by the importer is heading 9019, HTSUSA, covering mechano-therapy appliances. These appliances are equipped with some kind of mechanical device, and are used mainly in treatment involving movement of the joints or muscles. See EN 90.18 (I), Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, Vol. 4, p. 1493. Although the "InverTrac" is designed to relieve pressure on the spinal vertebrae and may be used to strengthen back muscles, it does not incorporate any type of mechanical device. Therefore, coverage by this heading is excluded.

Another possible classification is under heading 9506, HTSUSA, for gymnastic and exercise equipment. Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1 requires goods to be classified according to their principal use. The importer states that "[s]ome doctors could prescribe various exercises to perform on the InverTrac." An information sheet describes an eleven step exercise routine that may be performed on the apparatus. However, other marketing information discusses merely hanging from the device to remove pressure from the back. From the information provided, no principal use is discernible. Therefore, the apparatus must be classified according to its material components.

It is the opinion of this office that heading 7326, HTSUSA, "Other articles of iron or steel..." is the proper classification of the InverTrac. The dominant material of the "InverTrac" is steel tubing. Lack of proof of a principal use and failure to fall under any other headings requires that the InverTrac be classified according to its material components.


The "InverTrac" inversion system is classifiable under heading 7326.90.90, HTSUSA. The rate of duty is 5.1 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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