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HQ 951619

June 15 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 951619 DFC


TARIFF NO.: 6406.99.90

Mr. Robert E. Heinl
P.O. Box 506
44 Adams St.
Oyster Bay, N.Y. 11771

RE: Insole, removable moss

Dear Mr. Heinl;

In a letter dated April 9, 1992, you inquired as to the tariff classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) of a removable insole produced in Germany. A sample was submitted for examination.


The sample submitted, Article 041, Echte Moos Sohle, is a removable insole containing a layer of moss between a cover of cotton and anti-slipping foam rubber which keeps the feet cool and comfortable. The insole is said to be comprised of 40% forest moss, 30% latex rubber and 30% cotton.


Which component material gives the insole its essential character?


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]."

GRI 6, HTSUS, reads as follows:

6. For legal purposes, the classification of goods in the subheadings of a heading shall be determined according to the terms of those subheadings and any related subheading notes, and mutatis mutandis, to the above rules, on the understanding that only subheadings at the same level are comparable. For the purposes of this rule, the relative section, chapter and subchapter notes also apply, unless the context otherwise requires.

By virtue of GRI 6, HTSUS, GRI 3(b), HTSUS, is relevant here. It provides in pertinent part as follows:

3. When, by application of rule 2(b) or for any other reason, goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings, classification shall be effected as follows:

(b) Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, * * * which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a) shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which give them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

The sample insole is prima facie classifiable under subheading 6406.99.15, HTSUS, if of textile materials, or under 6406.99.30, HTSUS, if of rubber or plastics, or under 6406.99.90, HTSUS, if of other materials. The rates of duty applicable to these provisions is 17% ad valorem, 5.3% ad valorem, and 18% ad valorem, respectively.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (EN) to the HTSUS, although not dispositive, should be looked to for the proper interpretation of the HTSUS. See 54 FR 35128 (August 23, 1989). EN (IX) to GRI 3(b) at page 4 reads as follows:

(IX) For the purpose of this RULE, composite goods made up of different components shall be taken to mean not only those in which the components are attached to each other to form a practically inseparable whole but also those with separable components, provided these components are adapted one to the other and are mutually complementary and that together they form a whole which would not be offered for sale in separate parts.

It is our view that this inner sole is a composite good because the components are attached to each other to form an inseparable whole.

Composite goods are classifiable as if they consisted of the component which gives them their essential character. EN VIII to GRI 3(b) at page 6 reads as follows:

(VIII) The factor which determines essential character will vary as between different kinds of goods. It may, for example, be determined by the nature of the material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods.

It is our observation that the Echte Moos Sohle derives its essential character from the moss. Our rationale for this position is that the moss is the unique feature of the insole. The insole does not act as padding for the foot but acts to keep the foot fresh, cool, and comfortable. It is the moss in the insole that provides this feature for which the article would be purchased. Furthermore, the moss provides the most bulk to the item.


The moss gives the insole its essential character

The Echte Moss Sohle is classifiable under subheading 6406.99.90, HTSUS, as parts of footwear, removable insoles, other, of other materials, other. The applicable rate of duty for this provision is 18% ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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