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HQ 952513

April 26, 1993

CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 952513 LPF


TARIFF NO.: 9405.30.00

Mr. David Eisen
Siegel, Mandell & Davidson, P.C.
One Astor Plaza
1515 Broadway
43rd Floor
New York, NY 10036

RE: Classification of electric garland; Heading 9405, HTSUSA; Lamps and lighting fittings; Not 9505 festive article; Not 3926 article of plastic

Dear Mr. Eisen:

This is in response to your letter dated August 3, 1992, on behalf of Avon Products, Inc. Your inquiry requests the proper classification, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), of the "Halloween Light Glowing Ghouls" electric light garland. You submitted a sample with your request for a binding ruling.


The "Halloween Light Glowing Ghouls" electric light garland is imported from China and/or Taiwan and consists of 10 hollow, plastic light covers designed to resemble the heads of various figures, including a witch, skull, and jack-o'-lantern, situated along a wire harness, approximately 10 feet in length. The electrical wire harness incorporates 10 miniature contact bulbs which blink and illuminate the light cover when the central electrical cord is plugged into an electrical outlet. The light covers can be removed and switched with one another to create different configurations.


Whether the electric light garland is classifiable in heading 9505 as a festive article, in heading 9405 as a lamp or lighting fitting, or in heading 3926 as an article of plastic.


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. In the event that the good 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 (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....

However, Note 1(t) to Chapter 95, HTSUSA, as well as the EN's to heading 9505, state that the chapter (or heading) excludes electric garlands of all kinds (heading 9405). As this article qualifies as an electric garland, it is not classifiable in 9505 and must be classified elsewhere.

Since no HTSUSA provision provides for the article, as a whole, it is not classifiable at the GRI 1 level. Thus, we turn to GRI 3(a) to classify the article in the HTSUSA heading providing for one of its components: either the wire harness with the light sockets and bulbs, in 9405, as lamps and lighting fittings, or the plastic light covers, in 3926, as other articles of plastics. We note that the EN's to 9405 indicate that the heading includes specialized lamps, such as electric garlands, including those fitted with fancy lamps for carnival or entertainment purposes or for decorating Christmas trees.

GRI 3(a) explains, in pertinent part, that goods which are classifiable under two or more headings are classified under the heading which provides the most specific description of the goods. However, all such headings are regarded as equally specific when each refers to only part of the goods. Each of the possible headings, in this case, refers to only part of the good. Since the headings are, thus, regarded as equally specific, we do not classify the article by GRI 3(a) but rather by GRI 3(b).

GRI 3(b) provides that articles made up of different components, that is, composite goods, shall be classified as if they consisted of the component which gives them their essential character. "Essential character" is the attribute which strongly marks or serves to distinguish what an article is. EN VIII to GRI 3(b) explains that bulk, quantity, weight, value or the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the article are indicia of essential character.

Contrary to counsel's position, it is our opinion that the wire harness with the light sockets and bulbs imparts the essential character of the article. It distinguishes the article as an electric light set and allows the article to function as such. The plastic light covers, on the other hand, are readily removable permitting the harness and light component to be used without the covers or with different covers, as desired.

The article is classifiable in heading 9405. At the subheading level, 9405.30 provides for lighting sets of a kind used for Christmas trees, while 9405.40 provides for other electric lamps and lighting fittings. When meeting with Customs, counsel opined that lighting fittings 10 feet in length which only incorporate 10 bulbs are not of the kind used for Christmas trees, but rather those incorporating 25, 50, or 100 lights are appropriately sized to be of the kind used for Christmas trees. However, research subsequently conducted by Customs to verify counsel's position revealed the contrary. Several major importers of lighting used for Christmas trees or for other
holiday or entertainment purposes indicated that lighting fittings 10 feet in length and incorporating 10 bulbs are of the kind used for Christmas trees. The appropriate subheading is 9405.30.00.


The "Halloween Light Glowing Ghouls" electric light garland is classifiable in subheading 9405.30.00 as "Lamps and lighting fittings...not elsewhere specified or included;...: Lighting sets of a kind used for Christmas trees." The general column one rate of duty is 8 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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