U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has adopted new mandatory testing procedures for classifying footwear with textile material on the outer sole under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Effective November 13, CBP will require laboratory testing, where a layer of textile material has been added to outer soles composed of rubber or plastics, to determine the durability of the textile material. This change has significant duty implications, given that it may affect the classification of certain footwear falling under HTSUS heading 6405.
Additional U.S. Note 5 to HTSUS Chapter 64 on footwear states that CBP will not take into account textile materials that "do not possess the characteristics usually required for normal use of an outer sole, including durability and strength," in determining the constituent material of the footwear for classification purposes. Following its notice, however, CBP will adapt for its purposes the protocol promulgated by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for testing abrasion resistance on outer soles, also known as ISO 20871, to assess the constituent material of the outer soles. As long as textile material is present on one of the three laboratory samples, CBP will hold that all of the textile material on the outer sole of the subject footwear in contact with the ground possesses the characteristics usually required for normal use of an outer sole.
Importers, who are responsible for the classification of goods, may exercise reasonable care in deciding whether to subject the footwear to testing if they plan to enter their merchandise under an HTSUS heading other than 6405. CBP, however, reserves the right to request that the importer conduct testing on the merchandise or submit a sample for testing by the agency. Articles of footwear where the outer sole consists only of textile material or articles categorized as "indoor footwear" by CBP will not be subject to these new testing requirements.