CLA-2-95:S:N:N7:224 812428

Larry Matthews
Rollerblade, Inc.
5101 Shady Oak Road
Minnetonka, MN 55343

RE: The tariff classification of wrist guards, elbow pads and knee pads, used for in-line roller skating from China and Thailand.

Dear Mr. Matthews:

In your letter dated June 20, 1995, you requested a tariff classification ruling.

You requested information on the tariff treatment of protective gear, known as "City Gear", designed for use while in- line roller skating. The first item is a wrist guard constructed of polypropylene at the wrist and strap portions. The back hand pad is constructed of neoprene, closed cell foam, and mesh knit. The back hand face is all nylon coated with PVC. The thumb gusset is polyester and elastic. The second item is an elbow pad. The face is a woven nylon mesh with PVC coating. The lining is a knit polyester mesh, while the padding is a perforated cell foam. The straps are polyester elastic belting. The third item is a knee pad. The face is a woven nylon mesh with PVC coating. The lining is a polyester knit mesh, while the padding is a perforated cell foam. The straps are polyester elastic belting. Samples are being returned, as requested. Heading 9506, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), provides, in pertinent part, for articles and equipment for athletics, other sports or outdoor games. The Explanatory Notes to heading 9506 indicate that the heading covers protective equipment for sports or games, including breast plates, elbow pads, knee pads, cricket pads, and shin guards, all of which provide protection for bones closely underlying the skin and having little natural protection. Consequently, the sample CITY GEAR elbow pad and knee pad and the wrist guard, which perform a similar protective function, are classified in subheading 9506.99.6080, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), which provides for "Articles and equipment for general physical exercise, gymnastics, athletics, other sports (including table-tennis) or outdoor games... parts and accessories thereof: Other: Other: Other." The general rate of duty is 4.5 percent ad valorem.

Articles classifiable under subheading 9506.99.6080, HTS, which are products of Thailand, are entitled to duty free treatment under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) upon compliance with all applicable regulations.

You assert that the protective pads are accessories to roller skates and are classifiable in subheading 9506.70, HTSUS. This subheading provides for "ice skates and roller skates, including skating boots with skates attached; parts and accessories thereof..."

Generally speaking, accessories are articles that are not needed to enable the goods, with which they are used, to fulfill their intended function. They must, however, somehow contribute to the convenience and effectiveness of the principal article (e.g., facilitate the use or handling of the principal article, widen the range of its uses, or improve its operation). The subject protective gear does not function in this manner. The gear has little to do with the beauty, convenience or operational effectiveness of the roller skates themselves. Instead, the gear serves to protect the wearer from injuries in falls and collisions. This being the case, we need not explore the application of subheading 9506.70.20, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States.

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

A copy of this ruling letter should be attached to the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If the documents have been filed without a copy, this ruling should be brought to the attention of the Customs officer handling the transaction.


Jean F. Maguire
Area Director
New York Seaport