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HQ 955282

March 4, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 955282 DFC


TARIFF NO.: 6404.19.35

Erik D. Weiss, Esq.
Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz & Silverman 245 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10167-0002

RE: Footwear, women's; Espadrille; Open heels; T.D. 93-88; NY 890980

Dear Mr. Weiss:

This is in reference to your letter dated September 27, 1993, to the Area Director of Customs in New York, on behalf of E.S. Originals, Inc., concerning the classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), of certain women's footwear which will be imported from China. Your letter, together with samples of styles N2053-1 and N2283-0, has been referred to this office for a response. You have also submitted a supplemental submission to this office dated February 22, 1994, in which additional arguments were presented supporting your position as to the classification of the footwear.


The tariff classification of style N2053-1 was the subject of New York Ruling Letter 890980 dated October 22, 1993, addressed to you.

Style N2283-0, is a woman's espadrille-type shoe, with a two piece textile upper, a jute faced plastic platform wedge heel, a jute midsole, and a rubber outsole. The textile upper has a closed front section which fully encloses the toes, a full back heel section with a semicircular opening [1 inch x 3/4 inch] at the bottom of the heel, and an open midsection that has a 1/2 inch wide textile strap which passes through a central loop at the front and two eyelets on each side of the heel section at the back. The strap is used to tie the shoe to the foot after it is wound around the ankle of the wearer.

You maintain that style N2283-0 is dutiable at the rate of 37.5% ad valorem under subheading 6404.19.35, HTSUS, which provides for footwear with open toes or open heels.


Does style N2283-0 qualify as having an "open heel" for tariff purposes?


Classification of goods under the HTSUS is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 provides 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 do not otherwise require, according to [the remaining GRI's taken in order]." In other words, classification is governed first by the terms of the headings of the tariff and any relative section or chapter notes.

According to our research, the question of how large an opening or how much of the heel needs to be uncovered to classify a shoe as having "open heels" has not been previously addressed. The HTSUS and the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (EN) provide no answers to this question. However, on October 25, 1993, in T.D. 93-88 (27 Cust. Bull. & Dec. No.46), Customs published certain footwear definitions used by Customs import specialists in classifying footwear under Chapter 64, HTSUS. Inasmuch as these definitions were provided merely as guidelines and are not to be construed as Customs rulings, they are not dispositive. However, we believe they should be consulted. On page 6 of that document the term "Open" was defined in pertinent part, as follows:

. . . [i]n open heeled shoes, all or part of the back of the wearer's heel can be seen.

Following this definition, it is our view that style N2283- 0 qualifies as having an "open heel" for tariff purposes. It is our observation that part of the back of the wearer's heel will be visible through the opening at the bottom of the heel.


Style N2283-0 is classifiable under subheading 6404.19.35, HTSUS, which provides for footwear with outer soles of rubber, plastics, leather or composition leather and uppers of textile materials, other, footwear with open toes or open heels, other. The applicable rate of duty for this provision is 37.5% ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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