United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 1993 HQ Rulings > HQ 0953143 - HQ 0953312 > HQ 0953187

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

HQ 953187

August 5, 1993

CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 953187 GGD


TARIFF NO.: 9505.90.20

Ms. Karin M. Burke
Serko & Simon
One World Trade Center, Suite 3371
New York, New York 10048

RE: "Squirts;" Small Rubber Roto-molded Figures that Squirt when Squeezed; Not Imitation Jewelry; Not Toys

Dear Ms. Burke:

This letter is in response to your inquiry of January 4, 1993, on behalf of your client, Russ Berrie and Co., Inc., concerning the classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), of articles identified as "squirts," to be imported from China. Samples were submitted with your request. Information as to marketing and retail packaging was subsequently submitted.


The sample figures are identified by four separate item numbers. Item no. 18003 is a small round figure in the shape of a fish. It measures approximately 1-1/2 inches in height and has bulging cheeks and a pursed mouth. Item no. 18168 is a small round, smiling figure in the shape of a human head. The figure wears a graduate's mortarboard and measures approximately 1-3/4 inches in height.

(Each of the remaining items has a molded rubber ring on its head, through which an elasticized, man-made, woven textile cord is looped in order to suspend or carry the article. The looped cords measure approximately ten to thirteen inches in length.) Item no. 18093 is a small, rounded figure in the shape of an
octopus, measuring approximately 2-1/4 inches in height by 1-1/2 inches in width. An alternative style for item no. 18093 is a penguin figure which measures approximately 2-1/2 inches in height by 2-1/4 inches in width. Item no. 19613 is a small figure of a "Cupid" bear seated on a cloud, with tiny wings and a bow and arrow. The figure measures approximately 2-1/2 inches in height by 1-3/4 inches in width. An alternative style for item no. 19613 is a small devil figure, with molded cape, trident, horns, and measurements similar to those of the bear.

All of the items identified above are hollow and comprised of rubber. Each figure has a tiny hole in its mouth, except for the bear, whose arrow tip contains the tiny hole. After a figure is submerged in water, compressed to empty its air, and allowed to fill, it is capable of squirting water out through the same tiny hole.


Whether the items should be classified as toys, as imitation jewelry, or as practical joke articles.


Classification under the HTSUSA is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). The systematic detail of the harmonized system is such that virtually all 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. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI's may then be applied. The Explanatory Notes (ENs) 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 GRIs.

Heading 9503, HTSUSA, applies to "other toys," i.e., all toys not specifically provided for in the other headings of chapter 95. Although the term "toy" is not defined in the tariff, the EN to chapter 95 indicates that a toy is an article designed for the amusement of children or adults. The ENs to heading 9503 indicate that among other toys, the heading covers toys representing animals or non-human creatures even if
possessing predominantly human physical characteristics (e.g., angels, robots, devils, monsters). Although it is apparent that the graduate and devil/animal figures were designed for amusement, they may also function to trick or surprise unsuspecting individuals. As noted above, classification in heading 9503, HTSUSA, may be inapplicable to items that are specifically provided for in other headings of chapter 95.

Heading 9505, HTSUSA, provides, in part, for "entertainment articles, including magic tricks and practical joke articles...." The EN to heading 9505 states, in part, that the heading includes novelty jokes such as sneezing powder, surprise sweets, water- jet button-holes and "Japanese flowers." We note that in Parksmith Corporation v. United States, 67 Cust. Ct. 405, 408, C.D. 4304 (1970), the court reviewed several dictionary and court case definitions of the term "practical joke," determining that a practical joke article is one which causes humor by "somehow placing an individual at a disadvantage through a trick or prank."

In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HRL) 953188, issued May 18, 1993, Customs classified several squirting figures as practical joke articles in subheading 9505.90.20, HTSUSA. There are, however, several differences between those figures and the items described above. These items: 1) contain no stopper-type plug, making them more difficult to fill/refill; 2) are approximately one half the size of the joke articles; 3) hold one half the water of the joke articles; 4) squirt several feet less than the joke articles; and 5) if worn around the prankster's neck, the items: a) are less likely to be handled by an unsuspecting person; and b) if handled and squeezed, the prankster is nearly as likely to get wet as the individual supposedly placed at a disadvantage.

Calling attention to No. 5 above, it appears that the more likely the items with cords will be worn about the neck, the less likely they may be deemed practical joke articles. Without ruling out classification of the goods in heading 9505, it is helpful at this point, to examine competing heading 7117, HTSUSA, which provides for imitation jewelry. Legal Notes 8 and 10 to Chapter 71 indicate that the expression "imitation jewelry" includes any small objects of personal adornment, gem-set or not, such as rings, bracelets, necklaces, brooches, earrings, watch chains, fobs, pendants, etc.

Although different from most of the example objects of personal adornment, if worn around the neck, the small squirts may function as pendants. In HRL 952296, issued December 15, 1992, Customs considered heading 7117, HTSUSA in determining the proper classification of a plastic, fish-shaped water gun suspended from a long textile cord. It was noted that the American Heritage Dictionary, Second College Edition (1985), defines a pendant as "something suspended from something else, esp. an ornament or piece of jewelry attached to a necklace or bracelet." The water gun was found not to be an ornamental article or piece of jewelry, but a toy. The principal use of the textile cord was found to be for handling or carrying the squirting toy, not for wearing the item (as a necklace would provide a means to wear a pendant).

In this case, we also find that the textile cords principally serve to handle or carry the small squirts. However, unlike the fish-shaped toy water gun discussed above, the small squirt has no trigger or apparent indicator of its ability to squirt water. We note that despite their decreased size, range, water capacity, and lack of stoppers, the small squirts are as likely as the larger squirts to set up unsuspecting individuals for a wet surprise, and are properly classified as practical joke articles.


The small "squirts" articles identified as item nos. 18003, 18168, 18093, and 19613 are properly classified in subheading 9505.90.20, HTSUSA, the provision for festive, carnival or other entertainment articles, other, magic tricks and practical joke articles. The general column one duty rate applicable to this merchandise is 5.8 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: