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HQ 963604

March 29, 2000

CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 963604 jb


TARIFF NO.: 6405.20.3090

Michael S. O’Rourke, Esq.
Rode & Qualey
295 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10017

RE: Revocation of NY E82374; classification of infants’ shoes with traction dots

Dear Mr. O’Rourke:

On June 10, 1999, our New York office issued to you, on behalf of your client, EJ Footwear Corp., New York Ruling Letter (NY) E82374, classifying certain infants’ shoes with traction dots in heading 6404, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). This letter is to inform you that the classification of that merchandise in heading 6404, HTSUS, is in error. The correct classification for that merchandise is heading 6405, pursuant to the analysis which follows below.

Pursuant to section 625(c), Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1625(c)), notice of the proposed revocation of NY E82374 was published on February 16, 2000, in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 34, Number 7.


The subject merchandise is described as an infant’s shoe with an upper composed of denim textile fabric, and featuring a closed toe and heel, with a lace-tie closure. The shoes also feature an outer sole composed of textile fabric with applied rubber/plastic traction dots and a removable soft insole made from terry cloth, polyurethane foam, latex foam, and a 100 percent cotton sheeting fabric. The rubber/plastic traction dots are slightly rounded on the ground contact side and flat on the textile side and measure about 2mm in diameter.

In NY E82374 the subject merchandise was classified in heading 6404, HTSUS, based on a determination that the plastic dots constituted the greatest surface area in contact with the ground. A laboratory report analyzing the subject merchandise, submitted on behalf of your client, states that “the rubber/plastic dots occupy about 12% of the apparent area of the outer sole, with textile material accounting for the other 88%.”

The subject merchandise was also analyzed by the Customs Office of Laboratory and Scientific Services. The results obtained from that testing are discussed in the analysis that follows below.


What is the proper classification for the subject merchandise?


Classification of merchandise under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 requires that classification be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, taken in order. Where goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, the remaining GRI's will be applied, in the order of their appearance.

Chapter 64, note 4(b) states that “[t]he constituent material of the outer sole shall be taken to be the material having the greatest surface area in contact with the ground, no account being taken of accessories or reinforcements such as spikes, bars, nails, protectors or similar attachments.” The Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (EN) to chapter 64, HTSUSA, state that the outer sole is that part of the footwear which, when in use, is in contact with the ground.

In reviewing merchandise pursuant to the notes specified above, the focus of such an examination is on the outer surface of the outer sole. The subject shoes feature an outer sole that consists of both rubber/plastic (traction dots) and textile. Applying the legal standard and the EN guidance discussed above, the traction dots are “attached” to the outer surface of the outer sole. The traction dots are not akin to the “spikes, bars, nails, protectors or similar attachments” enumerated in chapter 64, note 4(b) and thus they must be taken into consideration when determining the constituent material on the outer sole having the greatest contact with the ground. As such, we must compare which constituent material found on the outer sole, that is, the rubber/plastic or the textile, has the greatest contact with the ground.

Customs has issued many rulings on this type of merchandise in the past. In those rulings, in addition to much “discussion” on different criteria which will vary from shoe to shoe (including the rigidity (or lack thereof) of the sole), the analysis has focused on the design of the plastic traction dots. That is to say, a determinative factor to the ultimate classification, is the size of the traction dots featured on the particular shoe and their placement on the outer sole. Accordingly, laboratory analysis of the rubber/plastic and textile combination will indicate the material with the greatest percentage in contact with the ground.

In the case of the subject merchandise, results of Customs laboratory testing reveals the following:

The external surface area of the upper (ESAU) is composed of 66.9 percent textile material (vegetable fibers) and 33.1% rubber or plastic by percent area.

The ESAU does not contain any accessories or reinforcements.

The footwear has a textile sole with rubber/plastic traction dots. There is no cardboard insert/stabilizer, therefore the footwear is not considered rigid. The sole is composed of 89.7 percent textile material and 10.3 percent rubber/plastic by percent area.

As the subject merchandise is comprised of a composition of 89.7 percent textile material on the outer sole and features small plastic/rubber traction dots which only cover 10.3 percent rubber/plastic by percent area, the subject merchandise should be classified in the provision for footwear with outer soles of textiles.


The subject merchandise is correctly classified in subheading 6405.20.3090, HTSUSA, which provides for, other footwear: with uppers of textile materials: with uppers of vegetable fibers: for other persons. The applicable rate of duty is 7.5 percent ad valorem.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the restraint (quota/visa) categories, your client should contact the local Customs office prior to importing the merchandise to determine the current applicability of any import restraints or requirements.

NY E82374 dated June 10, 1999, is hereby revoked. In accordance with 19 U.S.C. 1625(c), this ruling will become effective 60 days after its publication in the Customs Bulletin.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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