Mr. William J. Maloney
Rode & Qualey
295 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10017
RE: The tariff classification of textile footwear from China.
Dear Mr. Maloney:
In your letter dated August 17, 2000, written on behalf of your client, Deckers Outdoor Corporation, you requested a tariff classification ruling.
You have submitted samples of what you state are hiking shoes, style names “Quest” in the man’s version and “Cassile” in the woman’s version, made up of mostly textile uppers and rubber outer soles. You state the shoes possess a foxing-like band since the soles overlap the uppers to a significant extent over virtually the entire perimeter of the upper. Both shoes are valued over $12.00 per pair.
Your inquiry concerns whether or not this type of shoe is considered “tennis shoes, basketball shoes, gym shoes, training shoes and the like” as defined in Additional U.S. Note 2, Chapter 64, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS). You state that these shoes are not like athletic footwear and should be classified as hiking shoes.
You state that, although bearing a limited resemblance to certain types of athletic footwear, the subject footwear’s outer sole is significantly heavier and stiffer than would be found on athletic footwear. You state the shoes are designed for hiking and are not designed to be used for running or other athletic contests involving fast footwork. You also state that the footwear incorporates a molded nylon heel cup or stabilizer which will protect the foot during hiking activity, also the relatively heavy and stiff sole incorporates a deep lug pattern for added traction.
Additional U.S. Note 2, Chapter 64 (HTS), defines the term “tennis shoes, basketball shoes, gym shoes, training shoes and the like” as athletic footwear other than sports footwear (as defined in subheading note 1 to Chapter 64 (HTS)), whether or not principally used for such athletic games or purposes.
In HQ 953882 dated September 24, 1993, Customs rejected the contention that certain hiking boots are classifiable as athletic footwear, citing certain conspicuous differences between hiking boots and athletic footwear and the like. Specifically, the hikers featured:
a “heel” stabilizer on the “in” side of the foot which extends past the mid point of the shoe;
Stitched and cemented on, molded rubber heel and toe bumpers;
Outersoles which are considerably heavier and stiffer (although substantially less so than the usual hiker) and which have a quite different design and spacing for the “studs”; and
Uppers which cover the ankle.
In HQ 955224 dated March 25, 1994, Customs agreed that certain off-road protective footwear qualified as “athletic footwear.” Among the reasons presented supporting classification as “athletic footwear” was:
The footwear is constructed along the same general lines as athletic footwear. The only real difference is the outersole which is somewhat heavier than some, but not all, jogging shoes. It is no less flexible.
The footwear is light; it is not heavier than athletic footwear. It is consistent with the weight of athletic footwear.
The footwear is designed for use in activities which require fast footwork and extensive running.
Aside from the physical appearance, the identification of basketball shoes, tennis shoes, (i.e. court shoes), gym shoes and training shoes is generally dependent upon (but not limited to), the presence of certain construction features incorporated into the shoes. These features include special arch supports, shock absorbers, lateral stabilizers and special traction soles, features that are evident in the “Quest” and “Cassile” shoes. The only characteristics consistently evident in the cited rulings which differentiate “athletic” from other types of footwear in addition to materials and appearance, is the weight of the shoes and the flexibility of the outer soles enabling the wearer to participate in activities requiring fast footwork and running. Styles “Quest” and “Cassile” are certainly lightweight and flexible enough to be used in athletic activities, whether or not they are principally used for such athletic games or purposes. They are constructed along the same general lines as athletic shoes, secured by a lace-tie closure and rubber/plastic outer soles which overlap the upper and forms a foxing-like band similar to those found on many athletic shoes. This type of sole provides the necessary traction and stability to participate competitively in athletic endeavors. These shoes are not unusual for wear while participating in athletic activities. In addition, the literature provided emphasizes the shoe’s dependable long wear and describes them as being lightweight.
The applicable subheading for styles “Quest” and “Cassile” will be 6404.11.90, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), which provides for footwear with outer soles of rubber or plastics and uppers of textile materials, which are athletic, having a foxing or foxing-like band applied or molded at the sole and overlapping the upper, valued over $12.00 per pair. The rate of duty will be 20% ad valorem.
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 ruling, contact National Import Specialist Richard Foley at 212-637-7089.
Robert B. Swierupski