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HQ 952003

July 13 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 952003 DFC


TARIFF NO.: 6404.19.20

Mr. Don H. Choi
Vice President
Top Line Manufacturing Co.
Passaic Industrial Center
Building 1F, 90 Dayton Avenue
Passaic, NJ 07055

RE: Boots, hiking, unfinished; Footwear, protective, unfinished

Dear Mr. Choi:

In a letter dated April 29, 1992, addressed to the Customs office in New York, N.Y., you inquired as to the tariff classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), of a leather hiking boot without a liner. Your letter and the sample were forwarded to this office for a response.


The sample boot, identified as item no. WP-450, has a studded rubber sole, and wedge and an eight inch high, heavy (1000 denier) fabric upper with extensive grain leather overlays. There is a label on the outside of the tongue with the legend "Thinsulate-Thermal Insulation" appearing thereon as well as a hang tag with the same legend. In addition, velcro-like fasteners completely encircle the top inside of the upper for the placement of the removable Thinsulate Thermal liner. This boot is the same as that ruled on in Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 950680 dated April 16, 1992, addressed to you, except that the "removable liner" is not present here. As noted in that ruling, these boots (with liners) will be worn primarily by hunters and hikers and also by rural dwellers as general outdoor or bad weather footwear.


Can the boot imported without its liner be considered unfinished footwear within the intendment of General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 2(a), HTSUS?


Classification of goods under the HTSUS is governed by the 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.

GRI 2(a), HTSUS, reads as follows:

Any reference in a heading to an article shall be taken to include a reference to that article incomplete or unfinished, provided that, as presented, the incomplete or unfinished article has the essential character of the complete or finished article. It shall also include a reference to that article complete or finished (or falling to be classified as complete or finished by virtue of this rule) entered unassembled or disassembled.

If GRI 2(a), HTSUS, did not exist, we would classify WP-540 imported without the waterproof liner under subheading 6404.19.15, HTSUS, as footwear with outer soles of rubber, plastics, leather or composition leather and uppers of textile materials, other, footwear having uppers of which over 50 percent of the external surface area (including any leather accessories or reinforcements such as those mentioned in note 4(a) to this chapter) is leather.

However, following GRI 2(a), HTSUS, we consider the hiking boot to be unfinished protective footwear for tariff purposes. Specifically, the boot in its imported condition is unsalable. The label on the tongue and the hang-tag make it clear that the boot will have a Thinsulate liner inserted before it is offered for sale. The velcro on the inside is superfluous and an inconvenience to the wearer until the specially designed Thinsulate liner [neoprene rubber sandwiched between two layers of nylon fabric] with the matching velcro strips is placed in the boot.


In view of the foregoing, it is our position that the hiking boot, item no. WP-450, is classifiable under subheading 6404.19.20, HTSUS, as footwear with outer soles of rubber, plastics, leather or composition leather and uppers of textile materials, other footwear designed to be worn over, or in lieu of, other footwear as a protection against water, oil, grease or chemicals or cold or inclement weather. The applicable rate of duty for this provision is 37.5% ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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