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HQ 959405

September 28, 1998

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 959405 SG


TARIFF NO.: 3926.90.7500

Port Director
1000 2nd Avenue
Seattle, Washington 98104-1049

RE: Protest No. 3001-96-100396; Classification of fishing float

Dear Sir:

This is in response to the request for further review of protest 3001-96-100396 filed by Pacific Market International on June 3, 1996. Customs, in a CF 29 issued on February 15, 1996, proposed to classify the merchandise, described as a "U-Boat II Float Tube" under subheading 6307.90.9989, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). At the time of the proposed action the importer disagreed with the proposed action, and the classification is now protested.


The merchandise submitted consists of a main seat air bladder in the shape of the letter "U", and a second air bladder which acts as the backrest. A nylon cover or skin is fitted over the vinyl air bladders to create an inflatable float tube. The float tube is designed to hold and carry one person while fishing. It is designed to be used only in still waters like a pond or lake.

The importer contends that Customs classification of the float tube in subheading 6307.90.9989, HTSUSA, as an other made-up textile article is erroneous. The proper classification should be either 3926.90.7500, HTSUSA, pneumatic mattresses and other inflatable articles; 6306.49.0000, HTSUSA, camping goods, pneumatic mattresses, of textile materials; or 9506.29.0040, other water-sport equipment. Descriptive literature was submitted.


What is the correct tariff classification of the inflatable fishing float?



Classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's), taken in order. GRI 1 provides that classification is determined in accordance with the terms of the headings and relevant section or chapter notes.

Heading 9506, HTSUS provides for, among other articles, articles and equipment for gymnastics, athletics and other sports or outdoor games. The Explanatory Notes, the official interpretation of the HTSUS at the international level, state at EN 95.06(B) that heading 9506 covers requisites for other sports and outdoor games, e.g.:...

(2) Water-skis, surf-boards, sailboards and other water-sport equipment, such as diving stages (platforms), chutes, divers' flippers and respiratory masks of a kind used without oxygen or compressed air bottles, and simple underwater breathing tubes (generally known as "snorkels") for swimmers or divers.

Although the Explanatory Notes contain a long list of articles that are classifiable in heading 9506, the U-Boat Il Float Tube is not specifically included, nor does it appear to be similar to the listed articles. Those articles appear to be the requisites or gear needed in connection with the play of sports and athletics, that is, the equipment essential to the play of the game, sport or athletic activity or the equipment designed for use by the player in the training, practice, and conduct of those sporting activities. The U-Boat II Float Tube is not a requisite piece of sports equipment within the scope of heading 9506. Specifically, it does not qualify for inclusion within the scope of the suggested subheading as other water-sport equipment. The suggested subheading, 9506.29.00, is intended to cover such water sport articles as water skies, surf boards and body boards, swim masks and flippers, underwater breathing tubes, swim training devices, and various sport recreational water devices. The subject float tube is not used in the performance or achievement of such or similar athletic water activities or as a water sport training or practice device. Consequently, the submitted merchandise is not classifiable in heading 9506.

Heading 6306 provides for "Tarpaulins, awnings and sun blinds; tents; sails for boats, sailboards or land crafts; camping goods". Indented under this heading is subheading 6306.41.0000, which provides for pneumatic mattresses made of cotton and 6306.49.0000, which provides for pneumatic mattresses made of other textile materials.

The Explanatory Notes provide guidance as to the types of pneumatic mattresses included in heading 6306. EN 5 to heading 63.06 states: "(5) Camping goods. This group includes canvas buckets, water bags, wash basins; ground-sheets; pneumatic mattresses, pillows and cushions (other than those of heading 40.16); hammocks (other than those of heading 56.08)."


Based on the Explanatory Notes it appears that the subheading covers the types of mattresses one would bring along on a camping trip for sleeping or sitting. The instant float is not of this type; it is designed as a float to be used in ponds and lakes where fishing is available. Thus, the U-Boat II Float Tube, even if described as a mattress, does not fall within subheading 6306.49.0000.

Heading 3926, HTSUS, provides for other articles of plastics, including pneumatic mattresses and other inflatables, if no more specific provision for this item exists in the tariff. Heading 6307, HTSUS, provides for other articles of textiles, including pneumatic mattresses not considered camping goods. Accordingly, we must first determine whether the mattresses at issue are considered of plastics or of textiles.

The U-Boat II Float Tube is made of two major components: a 100% nylon woven cover and a vinyl inflatable inner tube. As no one heading covers both these components in combination, GRI 1 cannot be used as a basis for classification for the article.

Goods which cannot be classified in accordance with GRI 1 are to be classified in accordance with subsequent GRIs, taken in order.

GRI 2(a) is not relevant here, however, GRI 2(b) provides in part that "[t]he classification of goods consisting of more than one material or substance shall be according to the principles of Rule 3." Inasmuch as the U-Boat II Fishing Float is made up of more than one material or substance it would be classified according to the principles of Rule 3.

GRI 3, HTSUS, provides 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:

(a) The heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description. However, when two or more headings each refer to part only of the materials or substances contained in mixed or composite goods . . . those headings are to be regarded as equally specific in relation to those goods, even if one of them gives a more complete or precise description of the goods.

(b) Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale, which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a) [which requires that goods be classified, if possible, under the more specific of the competing provisions], shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.


(c) When goods cannot be classified by reference to 3(a) or 3(b), they shall be classified under the heading which occurs last in numerical order
Among those which equally merit consideration.

The factors which determine essential character of an article will vary from case to case. It may be the nature of the materials or the components, its bulk, quantity, weight, value, or the role a material plays in relation to the use of the goods. In general, essential character has been construed to mean the attribute which strongly marks or serves to distinguish what an article is; that which is indispensable to the structure or condition of an article. With respect to the float at issue, it is our view that the essential character is imparted by its vinyl inflatable component. It is this component that furnishes the structure and the support and most of the comfort to the user. The nylon fabric added to the top surface is for decorative and comfort purposes. Without the nylon, the merchandise would still be a float. Accordingly, the float will be classified as though it were composed of plastic.


Following a thorough review of the evidence submitted as well as an analysis of the law and applicable precedents, we have determined that for the reasons stated in the Law and Analysis portion of this ruling, the protest under consideration is granted. The U-Boat Float Tube is classified under subheading 3926.90.7500, HTSUSA, which provides for "Other article of plastics and articles of other materials of heading 3901 to 3914: Other: Pneumatic mattresses and other inflatable articles, not elsewhere specified or included." The applicable general column one rate of duty is 4.2 percent ad valorem.

In accordance with Section 3A (11) (b) of Customs Directive 0993550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, this decision, together with the Customs Form 19, should be mailed by your office to the protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry in accordance with the decision must be accomplished prior to mailing the decision. Sixty days from the date of the decision, the Office of Regulations and Rulings will take steps to make the decision available to Customs personnel via the Customs Ruling Module, ACS, and the public via the Diskette Subscription Service, Freedom of Information Act and other public access channels.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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