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HQ 951439

May 14, 1992
CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 951439 KCC


TARIFF NO.: 6406.20.00

John M. Peterson, Esq.
Neville, Peterson & Williams
39 Broadway
New York, NY 10006

RE: Outer sole; GRI 1; rubber; textile; Note 3, Chapter 64; 086689

Dear Mr. Peterson:

This is in response to your letter dated February 27, 1992, to Customs in New York, on behalf of Totes, Incorporated, requesting the tariff classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), of a "rubberized fabric" outer sole from the People's Republic of China. A sample of the outer sole was submitted for examination. Your letter and the sample were referred to this office for a response.


The footwear outer sole is manufactured in the People's Republic of China by stretching 100 percent woven cotton fabric over a footwear last. Rubber is then applied to both sides of the cotton fabric through a process of vulcanization. The "top" side of the fabric is coated with rubber in a relatively thick layer in which the weave of the cotton fabric is totally obscured. The rubber applied to the "bottom" side of the fabric in one single application creates a tread pattern over part of the cotton fabric. After the tread is applied, the weave of cotton fabric which is not obscured by the rubber tread is visible. You state that the "rubberized fabric" formed by this process will have a weight of not more than 1500 grams per square meter.

After the rubber is applied to the "top" and "bottom" sides of the fabric by vulcanization, the fabric is removed from the last, cut to shape in the form of the footwear outer sole, and imported into the U.S.


Is the article properly classified as a rubber outer sole under subheading 6406.20.00, HTSUS, or as other footwear parts of textile material under subheading 6406.99.15, HTSUS?


The classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1, HTSUS, states in part that "for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes...." Note 3, Chapter 64, HTSUS, states that:

For the purposes of this chapter, the expression "rubber or plastics" includes any textile material visible coated (or covered) externally with one or both of those materials.

Inasmuch as Note 3 to Chapter 64 defines the expression "rubber or plastics" for purposes of Chapter 64, it is not necessary to proceed to other chapters in the HTSUS for guidance concerning the composition and definition of the material of the outer sole at issue.

We have determined that Note 3 to Chapter 64 does not require that the coating be uniform but merely that it be visible. See, Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 086689 dated May 15, 1990. While the rubber tread does not completely cover the external surface of the outer sole, the rubber visibly coats the textile material beneath. Inasmuch as the rubber tread is an obvious feature of the external surface of the outer sole, it is our opinion that the rubber tread constitutes a visible covering within the meaning of Note 3 to Chapter 64. Therefore, for purposes of Chapter 64 the entire external surface of the outer sole at issue is determined to be of rubber material and is properly classified under subheading 6406.20.00, HTSUS, which provides for outer soles of rubber.


The outer sole is properly classified under subheading 6406.20.00, HTSUS, which provides for "Parts of footwear; removable insoles, heel cushions and similar articles; gaiters, leggings and similar articles, and parts thereof...Outer soles and heels, of rubber or plastics", dutiable at the rate of 5.3 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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