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HQ 952606

January 15, 1993

CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 952606 LPF


TARIFF NO.: 9505.10.50

Mr. David Smith
Rennoc Corporation
3501 S.E. Boulevard
Vineland, NJ 08360-7789

RE: Modification of NYRL 851316; Santa Claus figure; Heading 9505; Festive Article; HRL 952520, 088584

Dear Mr. Smith:

In New York Ruling Letter (NYRL) 851316, issued April 24, 1990, a Santa Claus figure was classified in subheading 9502.10.8000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), as "Dolls representing only human beings...: Dolls, whether or not dressed: Other [than stuffed]: Other: Other." We have reviewed that ruling and have found it to be partially in error. The correct classification is as follows.


The article, imported from Taiwan, Thailand or Hong Kong, style number 60110, is an eighteen inch Santa Claus figure. It has a vinyl head with white curly hair, a beard and spectacles. In order to give the head stability, the torso, which is composed of textile stuffing materials, has a thick tube internally inserted from the neck to the mid-stomach area. The figure is clothed in a red suit with white acrylic fur trim and a black belt. In addition, the figure is wearing black boots, black gloves and a red and white hat.


Whether the Santa Claus figure is classifiable in heading 9502 as a doll representing only human beings or rather in heading 9505 as a festive article.


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 Santa figure is made of non-durable material. Customs will consider an article, such as the Santa figure, 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). In addition, the article's primary function is decorative, as opposed to, utilitarian.

Finally, when examining the Santa figure, as a whole, it is evident that the article is traditionally associated or used with the particular festival of Christmas. Generally, figurines and dolls are not traditionally associated or used with the particular festival of Christmas; they are not ejusdem generis with those articles cited in the EN's to 9505, as exemplars of traditional, festive articles. However, Santa Claus is a unique form that traditionally has been associated, particularly and exclusively, with Christmas. Because the motif of an article is not dispositive of its classification, only three dimensional forms of Santa Claus, identifiable as such upon importation, are classifiable within 9505 as festive articles. See Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 088584, issued September 15, 1992, where decorative plates with flat renditions of a nativity scene and a holiday motif were classified as other than festive articles.

The fact that the instant figure has a beard, moustache, wears an oversized coat with a belt and buckle, a cap and boots, indicates that the article is identifiable upon importation as Santa Claus. Also, the article is three dimensional, because it is not designed or effective primarily as a flat or surface composition, but rather is specifically designed to give an illusion of depth or varying distances. See Webster's Third New International Dictionary 2474 (1971). For these reasons, the Santa Claus figure is classifiable, pursuant to GRI 1, in 9505 as a festive article. See HRL 952520, issued October 22, 1992, where an Old World Santa figure was classified as a festive article.

The Santa figure is classifiable within subheading 9505.10 which provides for articles for Christmas festivities. As for the proper classification of the Santa figure 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 Santa figure 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 Santa figure is not composed of plastic, it is classifiable in subheading 9505.10.50.


The Santa Claus figure is classifiable in subheading 9505.10.5000, HTSUSA, as "Festive, carnival or other entertainment articles,...Articles for Christmas festivities and parts and accessories thereof: Other [than Christmas ornaments]: Other." The general column one rate of duty is 5.8 percent ad valorem.

NYRL 851316 is modified accordingly.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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