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HQ 089580

September 6, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 089580 DWS


TARIFF NO.: 6406.10.10; 6406.10.65; 6406.99.60

Mr. John Pellegrini
Ross & Hardies
529 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10017-4608

RE: Footwear; Formed Leather Upper; Leather Sock Liner; Simple Assembly; Constructively Assembled

Dear Mr. Pellegrini:

This is in response to your letter of May 28, 1991, written on behalf of the Timberland Company, concerning the classification of certain footwear uppers and accompanying sock liners under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA).


The merchandise consists of womens' moccasin-type uppers with two-eyelet closures. These leather uppers will be imported with the same number of leather sock liners. The upper is both front part and back part lasted and has an oblong-shaped opening in the bottom, measuring approximately 3-3/8 inches in length and 5/8 inch in width. The sock liner runs from the back to midfoot on the shoe when finished.


What is the proper classification of the subject upper and sock liner under the HTSUSA?


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's), taken in order. GRI 1 provides that classification is determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes.

You argue that the subject upper is not formed because the upper and sock liner are not "constructively assembled". Specifically, you have requested that the sock liner be classified separately from the upper under subheading 6406.99.60, HTSUSA, which provides for: "[p]arts of footwear; removable insoles, heel cushions and similar articles; gaiters, leggings and similar articles, and parts thereof: [o]ther: [o]f other materials: [o]f leather." You also ask that the upper be classified under subheading 6406.10.65, HTSUSA, which provides for: "[u]ppers and parts thereof, other than stiffeners: [o]ther: [o]f leather." This we cannot do.

U.S. Note 4 to Chapter 64, HTSUSA, provides in part the following: "[p]rovisions for 'formed uppers' cover uppers, with closed bottoms, which have been shaped by lasting, molding or otherwise but not by simply closing at the bottom."

In HQ 088035, dated February 1, 1991, this office stated that "[w]e consider the leather upper and the sock lining to be a formed upper for the following reasons:

1. the upper and sock lining are constructively assembled pursuant to GRI 2(a), HTSUSA;

2. the upper is both front part and back part lasted; and

3. since the upper and sock lining are constructively assembled, we will treat the bottom as being closed."

Because the upper is fully lasted, it will be considered "formed" if it is "constructively assembled".

GRI 2(a) provides that:

Any reference in a heading to an article shall be taken to include a reference to that article incomplete or unfinished, provided that, as entered, the incomplete or unfinished article has the essential character of the complete or finished article.

GRI 2(a) also applies to articles which are entered unassembled or disassembled. As was stated in HQ 088483, "[t]he components are clearly intended to be assembled together, and, with the addition of other pieces, most importantly an outersole, will be sold to consumers as finished footwear." Therefore, the sock lining and upper, are deemed to be "constructively assembled" and are classifiable together, not separately.

You argue that GRI 2(a) only contemplates simple assembly, and, because of the complex shoe manufacturing operation, the subject upper and sock liner cannot be "constructively assembled". In understanding the language of GRI 2(a), the Explanatory Notes may be utilized. The Explanatory Notes, although not dispositive, are to be used to determine the proper interpretation of the HTSUSA. 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989). Explanatory Note GR 2(a)(VII) (p.2) provides:

For the purposes of this Rule, "articles presented unassembled or disassembled" means articles the components of which are to be assembled either by means of simple fixing devices (screws, nuts, bolts, etc.) or by riveting or welding, for example, provided only simple assembly operations are involved.

It is our position that the placing of the sock liner in the upper is a "simple assembly" for classification purposes. You claim that the manufacture of the shoe as a whole is not a simple assembly, and that the attachment of the sock liner is just part of the finishing process. We are not concerned with the entire manufacture of the Timberland shoe. We are only concerned with the complexity of attaching the sock liner to the upper, regardless of when that operation occurs within the overall process. We find that the attachment of the sock liner to the upper is a "simple assembly", and both pieces are "constructively assembled" for GRI 2(a) purposes.

Since the upper and the sock liner are "constructively assembled", then we will treat the bottom of the upper as completely closed. Therefore, according to HQ 088035, the upper is formed.


The subject upper and sock liner are classifiable under subheading 6406.10.10, HTSUSA, which provides for: "[u]ppers and parts thereof, other than stiffeners: [f]ormed uppers: [o]f leather or composition leather: [f]or other persons." The general, column one rate of duty is 10 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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