Tuesday, 01 July 2014 15:06

CBP Recognises ISO Standard to Test Footwear with Textile Outsoles

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President Obama issued a proclamation on 3 November 2011 that implemented the recommendations of the U.S. International Trade Commission regarding the addition of an additional U.S. note and the amendment of certain classification provisions in HTSUS Chapter 64 relating to certain footwear featuring outer soles of rubber or plastic to which a layer of textile material has been added.China soccer shoe soles maker football cleats outsoles supplier China

These changes reflected decisions of the World Customs Organisation's Harmonised System Committee on the classification of that particular footwear. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has held in a series of rulings issued over the past decade that footwear with textile materials that cover over 50 percent of the external surface area of the outer sole are classified as other footwear under heading 6405 and therefore face significantly lower duties than footwear with rubber soles.

Since 3 December 2011 this footwear has been classified under one of several eight-digit breakouts within headings 6402 and 6404, which are the headings where the subject footwear would normally be classified if it did not have a textile outsole. This change was intended to be tariff neutral because footwear with textile outsoles theoretically continues to face duty rates of 7.5 percent or 12.5 percent under the new eight-digit breakouts. However, the proclamation also created an additional U.S. note (AUSN 5) that states that:

"For the purposes of determining the constituent material of the outer sole pursuant to Note 4(b) of this Chapter, no account shall be taken of textile materials which do not possess the characteristics usually required for normal use of an outer sole, including durability and strength." CBP sought input from the public on the interpretation of the phrase "characteristics usually required for normal use of an outer sole, including durability and strength" and subsequently proposed to recognise ISO 20871 in assessing the characteristics of textile material attached to outer soles.

On 13 November CBP issued a final notice in the Customs Bulletin recognising this standard, taking into account certain clarifications regarding the test's applicability and interpretation of its results. ISO 20871 is an abrasion test intended for all outer soles irrespective of material. If textile material applied to an otherwise rubber or plastic outer sole is still present on at least one of the three required samples on which the test is performed, the footwear can be classified under heading 6405.

Otherwise, the textile material will be disregarded and the footwear classified under the appropriate provision within the headings for footwear having rubber or textile outer soles. Accordingly, in order to demonstrate that the terms of AUSN 5 have been met, either as part of a request for prospective ruling, in response to a request for information via CBP Form 28, or attached to entry documentation, importers should present independent laboratory reports applying ISO 20871.

In addition, CBP may conduct its own testing by applying ISO 20871 on footwear samples when circumstances warrant. It should be noted that footwear whose only outer sole material is textile will not be subject to the new test. Most indoor footwear should also be excluded, as CBP acknowledged that the test is not likely to be useful in assessing whether textile material on the outer soles of footwear worn exclusively indoors satisfies the terms of AUSN 5. However, CBP will consider the applicability of the test to indoor footwear on a case-by-case basis.

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