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HQ 083855

June 6, 1989

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 083855 SM


TARIFF NO.: 6204.63.3532

Ms. Lorraine M. Dugan
Customs Department
Associated Merchandising Corporation
50 Terminal Road
Secaucus, NJ 07094

RE: Tariff classification of mouse costume

Dear Ms. Dugan:

Your letter of February 9, on behalf of Mervyns, addressed to our New York office, requesting a tariff classi- fication ruling for a mouse costume made in Taiwan, has been referred to this office for reply.


A sample of Style MM-8 was submitted. It consists of four pieces. A pair of wide-legged, pull-on, woven nylon shorts has ribbon suspenders attached to the waist with elastic at the back. An elasticized felt bow tie features sequin trim. A pair of felt false ears attached to a headband is also trimmed with sequins. A false nose with whiskers is attached to an elastic band. All four pieces are packaged in a clear plastic hanging container with a sheet of cardboard showing a photograph of a woman wearing the costume.


How is the mouse costume classified?


Classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 provides that classification is determined first in accordance with the terms of the headings of the tariff and any relative section and chapter notes and then, if nothing in the headings or notes otherwise requires, in accordance with the remaining GRI's.

Heading 9505, HTSUSA, provides for festive, carnival, or other entertainment articles. The Explanatory Notes (EN), the official interpretation of the HTSUSA at the international level, indicate that this heading is intended to include arti- cles of fancy dress, such as masks, false ears and noses, wigs, false beards, and moustaches. However, Legal Note 1(e) of Chapter 95 excludes from the headings of that chapter arti- cles of fancy dress of textiles of Chapters 61 or 62.

The tariff does not define fancy dress. The definition of a classification term is a question of law. Converters Div. of American Hospital Supply Corp. v. United States, 861 F. 2d 710, 712 (Fed. Cir. l988). Tariff terms are construed according to their common and commercial meanings which are presumed to be the same. Nippon Kogaku (USA), Inc. v. United States, 673 F. 2d 380, 382 (CCPA 1982). Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged, at 822 (1965) defines fancy dress as:
a costume (as for a masquerade or party) depart- ing from currently conventional style and usu. representing a fictional or historical character, an animal, the fancy of the wearer, or a par- ticular occupation . . .

As a masquerade or party costume representing an animal, Style MM-8 falls within this definition of fancy dress. Since most of it is of textile, it is excluded from Chapter 95 if classi- fiable in Chapter 61 or 62.

Although a woman is shown wearing the costume, the shorts are not identifiable as men's or women's. They are therefore classifiable under the heading covering women's, heading 6204, HTSUSA. Legal Note 8, Chapter 62, HTSUSA. Heading 6215, HTSUSA, provides for the bow tie. Heading 9505, HTSUSA, provides for the false ears and nose. Since no single heading provides for all three articles, classification cannot be determined under GRI 1.

GRI 3 generally provides for the classification of goods that appear classifiable under two or more headings. GRI 3(a), providing for classification under the heading that is the most specific, does not apply when, as here, each heading considered refers to part only of the goods.

GRI 3(b) provides that "[m]ixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale, which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character . . . ."

The EN for GRI 3(b) provide interpretation of the terms goods put up in sets for retail sale and essential character. They state that goods put up in sets for retail sale are those which:

(a) consist of at least two different articles which are, prima facie, classifiable in different headings . . .;

(b) consist of products or articles put up to- gether 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 mouse costume consists of four articles prima facie clas- sifiable under different headings. They are put up together to enable the wearer to participate in Halloween activities, which normally involve costumes. We assume that they are imported packed for sale directly to users without repacking. Thus the mouse costume meets the requirements for classifi- cation as a set.

The EN state further that the factor determining essen- tial character will vary with different kinds of goods. It may be "the nature of the material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or . . . the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods." With regard to Style MM-8, it is the shorts that provide the essential char- acter, since they are the most substantial portion of the costume. The mouse costume is therefore classified as though consisting of the shorts.


The mouse costume, Style MM-8, is classified under subheading 6204.63.3532, HTSUSA, textile category 648, a provision for women's shorts of synthetic fibers.

Because of the changeable nature of the statistical annotation, i.e., the ninth and tenth digits of the tariff number, and the textile restraint categories, you should contact your local Customs office before importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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