Background

In the April 27, 2022, Customs Bulletin and Decisions, U.S. Customs and Border Protection proposed to reverse its determination that certain footwear products for men and women are classifiable as articles for the handicapped under HTSUS 9817.00.96 (duty-free). As a result, import duties would be assessed on such goods at the rates applicable under their normal classifications.

According to CBP, the various shoe styles at issue are claimed to be specially adapted for, and were stated to be most typically purchased by, people with diabetes. Some of the shoes are women’s and men’s shoes, or women’s and men’s athletic-style shoes, that do not cover the ankle and have outer soles made of rubber or plastics, with uppers predominately of leather or textile materials. Some close by Velcro hook and loop, buckle, or lace-up closures. Several are described as boots. The shoes are constructed with extra depth in the toe box and forefoot and are imported with heat-moldable inserts.

CBP states that eligibility for HTSUS 9817.00.96 depends on whether the shoes are specially designed or adapted for the use or benefit of handicapped persons. Citing to a 2018 ruling by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, CBP found that none of the shoe styles at issue would likely be sold exclusively to the handicapped. None of them possess features distinguishable from those found in mainstream shoes useful for the general public, CBP said, and none of them have any significant adaptations that would benefit the handicapped community.

Ruling HQ H319308 would modify rulings NY N138598, NY N178242, NY N132915, NY N127775, NY N127777, NY N134664, NY N136836, NY N144018, NY N132897, NY N123943, NY N176157, NY N113676, NY N132897, NY N142316, and NY N172498 to reflect this change.

For more information on how to seek or utilize classification and other rulings, please contact attorney Deb Stern at (305) 894-1007 or via email

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