W. N. Epstein & Co., Inc.
PO Box 45187
St. Louis MO 63145
RE: The tariff classification of roller skate gear from China.
Dear Mr. Epstein:
In your letter dated April 7, 1998, you requested a tariff
classification ruling on behalf of Roller Derby Skate Corp.
The merchandise consists of two sets of skate equipment. Set
#1, identified as model CA202 "Fun Pak" is comprised of a pair of
in-line roller skates, a plastic protective helmet, protective
knee guards and elbow guards.
Set #2, Model CA52-01 "Combo Pak" contains a plastic protective
helmet, along with protective knee, elbow and wrist guards. The
samples will be returned at your request.
The General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs) set forth the legal
framework in which merchandise is to be classified under the
Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTS).
GRI 1 requires that classification be determined first according
to the terms of the headings of the tariff and any relative
section or chapter notes. Goods that cannot be classified in
accordance with GRI 1 are to be classified in accordance with
subsequent GRIs taken in order.
The set #1 "Fun Pak" is a single retail package containing four
components that are classifiable under three separate headings or
subheadings of the tariff. GRI 3 applies when goods are put up
for sale collectively and are classifiable under two or more
headings of the tariff; GRI 3(b) covers goods put up in sets for
The Explanatory Notes represent the official interpretation of
the HTS at the international level. Explanatory Note X to GRI
3(b) defines "goods put up in sets for retail sale." Such goods:
(a) consist of at least two different articles that are
classifiable in different headings, (b) consist of products put
up together to meet a particular need or carry out a specific
activity, and (c) are put up in a manner suitable for sale
directly to users without repacking.
The components of set #1 "Fun Pak" fail, in our opinion, to
constitute a set for tariff classification purposes. They meet
the criteria of elements (a) and (c) above but their components
when put together do not share a common specific activity nor do
they collectively address one particular common need. Their only
association is that they are all principally intended for use in
the sport of roller skating. But where the in-line skates
provide the means for skating, the helmet and protective knee and
elbow guards contribute to a different need, that is, the user's
confidence and protection from injury. Each class of articles
performs a role independent of the other. Having failed as a set
in accordance with GRI 3(b), the components of set #1 model CA202
"fun pak" must be classified separately.
The applicable subheading for the in-line roller skates will
be 9506.70.2010, HTS, which provides for "Articles and equipment
for general physical exercise, gymnastics, athletics, other
sports...:Ice skates and roller skates, including skating boots
with skates attached; parts and accessories thereof: Roller
skates and parts and accessories thereof." The rate of duty will
The applicable subheading for the protective knee and elbow
guards will be 9506.99.6080, HTS, which provides for "Articles
and equipment for general physical exercise, gymnastics,
athletics, other sports...: Other: Other, Other. The rate of
duty will be 4.1 percent ad valorem.
The subheading for the protective plastic helmet will be
6506.10.6045, which provides for "Other headgear, whether or not
lined or trimmed: Safety headgear: Other, Athletic, recreational
and sporting headgear. The rate of duty will be 0.5 percent ad
Set #2, model CA52-01 "Combo Pak," meets the definition of a set
for tariff purposes since (a) at least two of the items are
classifiable in different headings (the pads in heading 9506,
HTS, the helmet in heading 6506, HTS); (b) the merchandise
consists of items put up together to meet a particular need,
specifically, the physical protection of the user; and (c) the
merchandise, it its retail package, is ready for direct sale
Having determined that Set #2, model CA52-01, constitutes a
set, we must next discuss an essential character question. GRI
3(b) provides that sets made up of different components shall be
classified as if they consisted of the component which gives them
their essential character. In general, "essential character" has
been construed to mean the attribute which strongly marks or
serves to distinguish the article.
In the present case, the essential character is not readily
apparent. It is our belief that the essential character of model
CA52-01 is not distinguished by either the helmet or by the
protective guards or pads. Both the pads and the helmet play a
more or less equal role in relation to the concept and use to
which the article will be put.
When the component which gives the product its essential
character cannot be determined, classification is determined by
way of GRI 3(c) which directs that when goods cannot be
classified by reference to GRI 3(b), they shall be classified
under the heading which occurs last in numerical order among
those which equally merit consideration.
The heading which occurs last in numerical order to the two
competing headings is 9506, HTS. Accordingly, the subject model
#CA52-01 "Combo Pak" is classified in subheading 9506.99.6080,
HTS, which provides for "Articles and equipment for general
physical exercise, gymnastics, athletics, other sports...: Other:
Other." The rate of duty will be 4.1 percent ad valorem.
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 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 Tom
McKenna at 466-5475.