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NY L82247

February 24, 2005

CLA-2-69:RR:NC1:126: L82247


TARIFF NO.: 6907.90.00; 9817.00.94

Mr. Brian Newell
Shakerley (Holdings) Group Limited
Wigan Road
Euxton, Chorley
Lancashire, England

RE: The tariff classification of a ceramic tile from England

Dear Mr. Newell:

In your letter, dated January 19, 2004, you requested a tariff classification ruling regarding an unglazed ceramic tile. A sample was submitted with your ruling request.

The measurements of the tile are twelve inches by twelve inches. It lower body is five sixteenths of an inch thick. The surface of the tile includes small projecting “domes.” Each of these “domes” is 0.2 inches high, 0.9 inches in diameter at the base and 0.5 inches in diameter at the top.

You stated that the product will be used as flooring on the edges of railroad platforms. You stated that the purpose of the domes in the tile is to alert a visually impaired person walking on the edge of the platform to the fact that he or she is approaching the end of the platform.

The applicable subheading for the unglazed ceramic tile will be 6907.90.00, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), which provides for unglazed ceramic flags and paving, hearth or wall tilesother. The rate of duty will be 10 percent ad valorem.

Regarding a possible secondary classification in subheading 9817.00.94, HTS, your item is different from the items that have previously been covered by the guidelines for its interpretation in, for example, Headquarters Ruling 560114 DEC, dated October 9, 1997, i.e., "The following factors were considered to be relevant in making this determination: (1) whether any characteristics are present that create a substantial probability of use by the chronically handicapped; (2) whether the article is easily distinguishable from articles useful to the general public; (3) whether use of the article by the general public is so improbable that such use would be fugitive; (4) whether use of the articles by the general public would be inconvenient; (5) whether articles are imported by manufacturers or distributors recognized or proven to be involved in this class or kind of articles for the handicapped; (6) whether the articles are sold in specialty stores which serve handicapped individuals; and (7) whether the condition of the articles at the time of importation indicate that these articles are for the handicapped. See also T.D. 92-77 (26 Cust. Bull. 1, August 26, 1992)."

For these blister tiles "for usage on railway platform edges," they will be used (stepped on) much more by sighted than blind people simply because a small percent of the users of mass transit are blind. This is quite unlike the situation for either Braille tablets or cubarithms, the two specific examples in the statutory language of the 9817.00.94 heading. However, the truncate cones are much more important to the safety of the blind than to the safety of the sighted. You did not dispute, as we indicated in our January 12, 2005 letter to you, the findings of the study by McGean in 1991 that the use of similar tactile tiles in the Bay Area Rapid Transit System resulted in decreased platform edge accidents for All travelers. However, as that study indicated, the safety increase was especially true for those with vision impairments. From reviewing several sites on the Internet, we believe that the relatively small increased safety for sighted passengers is a fortuitous, unintended result of using tactile tiles and that they are specially designed for the benefit of the blind.

As you pointed out in your letter of January 19, 2005, since the top of the "domes" are only .5 inch in diameter and are about 1.7 inch apart (on center), the surface in contact with the user's shoe is greatly reduced compared to that with a flat tile. This necessitates the material of the tile being unusually gritty. This, combined with the fact that the tile must also be unusually durable to prevent the "domes" being worn down too quickly by more than 1/64th inch, does make the adaptation necessary to produce them much more significant, compared to an ordinary flat tile, than simply using a specially shaped mold in their production.

While nothing would prevent these tiles from benefiting those with temporary blindness, blindness is ordinarily permanent or chronic and independent travel on a transit system is likely more common for those with long term blindness so we do not consider these items excluded from 9817.00.94 by US Note 4-b-I to Subchapter 17 of Chapter 98 as "articles for acute or transient disability."

On that basis a secondary classification will apply for this item in HTS 9817.00.94, as specially designed or adapted for the use or benefit of the blind, free of duty and user fees (if any), if all applicable entry requirements are met including the filing with the Customs port of entry of the U.S. Department of Commerce form ITA-362P.

This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 177).

A copy of the ruling or the control number indicated above should be provided with the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported.

If you have any questions regarding the classification in 9817.00.94 of this item, contact National Import Specialist J. Sheridan at 646-733-3012. If you have any questions regarding the classification in subheading 6907.90.00, contact National Import Specialist Jacob Bunin at 646-733-3027.


Robert B. Swierupski

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