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HQ 963727

JANUARY 28, 2001

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 963727 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 9019.10.20

Port Director of Customs
6601 N.W. 25th St.
P.O. Box 025280
Miami, FL 33159

RE: Protest 5201-99-100762; Foot Bath Massagers

Dear Port Director:

This is our decision on Protest 5201-99-100762, filed against your classification, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), of foot bath massagers. The entry under protest was liquidated on August 27, 1999, and this protest timely filed on October 21, 1999.


The device, identified in submitted literature as the Professional Foot Bath (foot bath), item 8998, is an electrothermically-operated foot massager. It is a basin measuring 18 1/8 in. x 18 1/4 in. x 15 1/2 in., with an oval-shaped opening to accommodate feet. A finger-shaped device in the basin provides the vibrating kneading or rubbing action. The device offers three massage options: vibration, vibration with heat, and vibration, heat and bubbles. It may be used warm or cold, and dry or wet by filling the basin with water. A heating device maintains warm water temperature.

The foot bath was entered under a provision of HTS heading 9019 as massage apparatus. However, the entry was liquidated under a provision of heading 8509 as an electromechanical domestic appliance. Your office now believes that the device may be described by HTS heading 8516, as an electrothermic appliance of a kind used for domestic purposes.

To support its claim under heading 9019, the protestant cites the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) to that heading. The protestant also cites several administrative rulings which classify similar devices in provisions of heading 9019.

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

8509 Electromechanical domestic appliances, with self-contained electric motor:

8509.80.00 Other appliances

8516 other electrothermic appliances of a kind used for domestic purposes

Other electrothermic appliances:

8516.79.00 Other

9019 massage apparatus:

9019.10.20 Other


Whether the foot bath is a good of heading 9019.


Under General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 1, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), goods are to be classified according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and provided the headings or notes do not require otherwise, according to GRIs 2 through 6.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. Though not dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS. Customs believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80. 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

First of all, Section XVI, Note 1(m), HTSUS, excludes from heading 8509, the liquidated provision, and from heading 8516, the provision which your office now believes might apply, articles of Chapter 90. The issue, then, is whether the foot bath is provided for in heading 9019.

In our opinion, the ENs cited by the protestant support classification of the device in heading 9019. The ENs on p. 1617 describe apparatus for massaging parts of the body, to include feet, that operate by vibration. These include electro-mechanical types with a motor built into the working unit. Also included in the heading are appliances for massaging certain body parts by the action of water. Thus, the foot bath, which massages feet either by direct contact with the finger-shaped vibrating finger or by the action of the finger on warm water to create a hydro-massage effect, is within this EN description. Jetted baths, whirlpool spas and similar hydro-message appliances are classifiable in subheading 9019.10.20, HTSUS. See HQ 957383, dated January 30, 1995, and cases cited. For these reasons, Section XVI, Note 1(m), HTSUS, eliminates headings 8509 and 8516 from consideration.


Under the authority of GRI 1, the Professional Foot Bath, item 8998, is provided for in heading 9019. It is classifiable in subheading 9019.10.20, HTSUS.

The protest should be ALLOWED. In accordance with Section 3A(11)(b) of Customs Directive 099 3550-065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, you are to mail this decision, together with the Customs Form 19, to the protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry or entries 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 make the decision available to Customs personnel, and to the public on the Customs Home Page on the World Wide Web at www.customs.gov, by means of the Freedom of Information Act, and other methods of public distribution.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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