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Classification of Leather Boots with Rubber Outer Soles

The Tariff Classification and Marking Branch recently published internal advice ruling HQ H200437 and protest ruling HQ H213697, both dated November 20, 2012, concerning the tariff classification of identical leather boots with rubber outer soles from China that were entered at multiple ports. The importer described the boots as "of welt construction," as each featured a paperboard lip extending downward beneath the insole and sewn to a black welt running around the tread portion of the sole. Observing that the paperboard lip did not attach to the insole at a right angle, the ports disagreed with the importer's original classification under subheading 6403.91.30, HTSUS, which provides for welt footwear. The ports concluded that pursuant to the footwear definitions of the terms "welt" and "lip" in Treasury Decision (T.D.) 93-88, dated November 17, 1993, the boots were more appropriately classified in subheading 6403.91.60, HTSUS, as other footwear.

Issuing its opinion in HQ H200437 and HQ H213697, TCM noted that the information contained in T.D. 93-88 consists of advisory guidelines that should not be construed as binding CBP rulings. The Nomenclature and Additional Note 1(a) are silent as to the angle at which the lip must attach to the insole and do not support a requirement that the lip of an article of welt footwear extrude at a 90-degree angle. Consequently, TCM concluded that because the boots possessed a welt strip extending around the edge of the tread and satisfied the definition of "welt footwear," as provided by Additional U.S. Note 1(a) to Chapter 64, the merchandise is properly classified under subheading 6403.91.30, HTSUS.

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