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HQ 951520

October 31, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 951520 LPF


TARIFF NO.: 9505.10.40

Mr. Marc S. Greenberg
Vice President
American Shipping Company, Inc.
600 Sylvan Avenue - P.O. Box 1486
Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632

RE: Modification of NYRL 838996; Christmas wreath in 9505.10.40, HTSUSA; Festive article, for Christmas festivities, other; Not 9505.10.25 Christmas ornament.

Dear Mr. Greenberg:

In New York Ruling Letter (NYRL) 838996 issued April 10, 1989, a Christmas wreath, from Thailand, was classified in subheading 9505.10.25, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), as "Festive, carnival or other entertainment articles,...: Articles for Christmas festivities and parts and accessories thereof: Christmas ornaments: Other: Other." We have reviewed that ruling and have found it to be partially in error. The correct classification is as follows.


The merchandise at issue is a Christmas wreath measuring approximately eighteen inches in diameter. It consists of dried and plastic pine cones, plastic flocked poinsettias, plastic red berries and plastic evergreen and holly-type leaves, all affixed to a plastic circular base.


Whether the Christmas wreath is classifiable in subheading 9505.10.25 as festive articles, articles for Christmas festivities, Christmas ornaments, or in subheading 9505.10.40 as festive articles, articles for Christmas festivities, other, of plastics.


The General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) taken in their appropriate order provide a framework for classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA. Most imported goods are classified by application of GRI 1, that is, according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative section or chapter notes. The Explanatory Notes (EN's) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, which represent the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, facilitate classification under the HTSUSA by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and GRI's.

Heading 9505 provides for, inter alia, festive, carnival and other entertainment articles. The EN's to 9505 indicate that the heading covers:

(A) Festive, carnival or other entertainment articles, which in view of their intended use are generally made of non-durable material. They include:

(1) Decorations such as festoons, garlands, Chinese lanterns, etc., as well as various decorative articles made of paper, metal foil, glass fibre, etc., for Christmas trees (e.g., tinsel, stars, icicles), artificial snow, coloured balls, bells, lanterns, etc. Cake and other decorations (e.g., animals, flags) which are traditionally associated with a particular festival are also classified here.

(2) Articles traditionally used at Christmas festivities, e.g., artificial Christmas trees (these are sometimes of the folding type), nativity scenes, Christmas crackers, Christmas stockings, imitation yule logs....

In general, merchandise is classifiable in heading 9505, HTSUSA, as a festive article when the article, as a whole:

1. is of non-durable material or, generally, is not purchased because of its extreme worth, or intrinsic value (e.g., paper, cardboard, metal foil, glass fiber, plastic, wood);

2. functions primarily as a decoration (e.g., its primary function is not utilitarian); and

3. is traditionally associated or used with a particular festival (e.g., stockings and tree ornaments for Christmas, decorative eggs for Easter).

An article's satisfaction of these three criteria is indicative of classification as a festive article. The motif of an article is not dispositive of its classification and, consequently, does not transform an item into a festive article.

First, the wreath is made of non-durable material. Customs will consider an article, such as the wreath, to be made of non- durable material since it is not designed for sustained wear and tear, nor is it purchased because of its extreme worth or value (as would be the case with a decorative, yet costly, piece of art or crystal).

Next, the article's primary function is decorative, as opposed to, utilitarian. It is apparent, the wreath serves no useful function besides its role as a decoration.

Finally, when examining the wreath, as a whole, it is evident that the article is traditionally associated or used with the particular festival of Christmas. In Headquarters' Ruling Letter (HRL) 950999, issued April 16, 1992, various wreaths and garlands, with artificial foliage, were classified in 9505.10.40 as festive articles for Christmas festivities. Following is the language from HRL 950999 wherein Customs explained which types of garlands, wreaths, etc. would be classifiable in 9505.10 as festive articles for Christmas festivities.

Those artificial foliage items which qualify as Christmas articles of subheading 9505.10 include wreaths, garlands, candle rings, centerpieces -- complete articles -- made up of foliage commonly and traditionally associated with Christmas [i.e., artificial poinsettias, pine cones, pine needle leaves, evergreen branches, holly berries, holly leaves, laurel leaves, or mistletoe (singly or combination thereof)]. (This largely restates Customs position under the TSUS). These articles can be further decorated with plastic sleighs, miniature Santas, glass balls, ribbon, etc. Stylized/modern versions of Christmas wreaths, garlands, etc. (i.e., those articles decorated with neon poinsettias, mauve glass balls, etc.) also qualify as festive.

At the present time, based on the information before us, there is no other artificial foliage traditionally associated with any other holiday. Hence, only

Christmas foliage of the type described above is classifiable in heading 9505. The rest is classifiable in Chapter 67.

Note that picks, sprigs, sprays, swags, branches, -- incomplete articles -- no matter what they are made of or what flower they represent, are all classifiable in Chapter 67 -- the only exception being mistletoe sprays which are classifiable in 9505.10.

It is Customs position that the artificial wreath at issue in this case is of the type described in HRL 950999. The instant wreath, therefore, is classifiable in 9505.10.

As for the proper classification of the wreath at the eight digit subheading level, subheadings 9505.10.10, 9505.10.15 and 9505.10.25 cover Christmas ornaments of glass, wood and other, respectively. To qualify as a Christmas ornament, Customs looks to the following three criteria:

1. that the item is advertised and sold as a Christmas tree ornament;

2. that there is some method, generally a loop attached to the top, to hang the item on a tree; and

3. that the item is not too big or too heavy to be hung or attached to a tree.

The wreath does not meet these criteria. Consequently, it is not classifiable as a Christmas ornament.

Subheading 9505.10.40, covers other Christmas articles of plastics, while subheading 9505.10.50, covers other Christmas articles made of other materials. As the wreath is composed of plastic, it is classifiable in subheading 9505.10.40.


The wreath is classifiable in subheading 9505.10.40, HTSUSA, as "Festive, carnival or other entertainment articles,...Articles for Christmas festivities and parts and accessories thereof: Other (than Christmas ornaments): Of plastics." The general column one rate of duty is 8.4 percent ad valorem. We note that the ruling being modified indicated a general column one rate of duty of 5 percent ad valorem which, under subheading 9902.95.05, was temporarily suspended until December 31, 1992. However, an
article classified in 9505.10.40 is eligible for duty free treatment under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) provided it meets the requirements of General Note 3(c)(ii), HTSUSA.

This notice should be considered a modification of NYRL 838996 pursuant to 19 CFR 177.9(d)(1). It is not to be applied retroactively to NYRL 838996 (19 CFR 177.9(d)(2)) and will not, therefore, affect past transactions for the importation of your client's merchandise under that ruling. However, for the purposes of future transactions in merchandise of this type, NYRL 838996 will not be valid precedent. We recognize that pending transactions may be adversely affected by this modification, in that current contracts for importations arriving at a port subsequent to this decision will be classified pursuant to it. If such a situation arises, your client may, at its discretion, notify this office and apply for relief from the binding effects of this decision as may be warranted by the circumstances.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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