United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
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HQ 953626

September 9, 1993

CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 953626 GGD


TARIFF NO.: 9504.40.0000

Area Director of Customs
Six World Trade Center, Room 423
New York, New York 10048

RE: Internal Advice Request No. 8/93; Tarot Cards and Similar Card Games; Playing Cards

Dear Sir:

This letter is in response to Internal Advice Request No. 8/93, initiated by a letter dated January 21, 1993, submitted by Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz & Silverman, 12 East 49th Street, New York, New York 10017, on behalf of U.S. Games, Inc. The request concerns the classification of tarot cards and similar card games under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). Samples were submitted with the request.


The samples consist of separate decks, packs, or sets of cards, that are designed, marketed, and intended to be used for playing the card games tarot, snap, old maid, and the French auto race. The packs generally include an instruction booklet, contain a specific number of cards for a particular game, are organized in suits or categories, and are capable of easy handling and repetitive use.


Whether the cards used to play the various card games are classifiable in subheading 9504.40.0000, HTSUSA, as playing cards, or in subheading 9504.90.9080, HTSUSA, as other articles for games.


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 GRIs 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.

The proper heading in this case is clear, i.e., heading 9504, HTSUSA, which covers "Articles for arcade, table or parlor games...parts and accessories thereof." The subheadings at issue essentially differentiate between conventional playing cards and sets of cards varying in number, markings, pictures, sizes, etc., that are used to play card games. Under the Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS), it had long been Customs established practice to limit the types of cards classified as "playing cards," to those decks or packs which contain four suits (hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades) of 13 cards each (two through ten, jack, queen, king, and ace) plus certain extras (such as jokers). In other words, not all "card games" were played with "playing cards."

The term "playing cards" is not defined in the notes to Chapter 95. Section XX, HTSUSA, in which Chapter 95 falls, contains no legal notes. Although the ENs to heading 9504 do not mention the term "playing cards," the notes state that the heading includes "[c]ard games of all kinds (bridge, tarot, "lexicon", etc.)."

Since the inception of the HTSUS, there have been few opportunities for Customs to consider whether a narrow interpretation for the classification of "playing cards" should continue to be applied. The requestor submits that it is reasonable to assume that the reference to "card games" in the ENs is a reference to "playing cards" of subheading 9504.40. To support the assertion, the requestor points out that in the Summary Record, DOC. 26.010 E, Appendix R of Annex III, paragraph 29, the Harmonized System Committee states that:

[c]oncerning the subheading relating to playing cards, it was agreed to extend the scope to cover all playing cards, with no subdivision at 2-dash level. It was also agreed that the text should simply read "playing cards" and that the Explanatory Notes should indicate that this subheading includes card games of all kinds.

In light of the foregoing, and the fact that all of the sample packs of cards are used for playing card games, it is our determination that the goods are properly classified in subheading 9504.40.0000, HTSUSA, as playing cards.


The packs of cards used to play the card games tarot, snap, old maid, and the French auto race, are properly classified in subheading 9504.40.0000, HTSUSA, the provision for "Articles for arcade, table or parlor games...parts and accessories thereof: Playing cards." The general column one duty rate applicable to this merchandise is 0.8 cents/pack plus 0.8 percent ad valorem.

You should advise the internal advice applicant of the decision, forwarding a copy of this letter.


John Durant, Director

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