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HQ 561876

October 10, 2001

CLA-02 RR:CR:SM 561876 KKV


TARIFF NO. 9817.00.98

Karl F. Krueger
AEI Customs Brokerage Services
P.O. Box 5129
Southfield, MI 48086-5129

RE: Eligibility of certain presentation equipment for preferential tariff treatment under subheading 9817.00.98, HTSUS

Dear Mr. Krueger:

This is in response to your letter dated August 10, 2000, on behalf of your client, Hemisphere Freight & Brokerage Services, regarding the applicability of tariff subheading 9817.00.98, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of United States, to certain merchandise imported for use in corporate presentations, including projection screens, microphones, video/data projectors, speakers, video monitors, data switchers, computers, video cameras, wireless microphones, CD players, stage lighting equipment, stage trusses, computer monitors, video cassette players, stereo amplifiers, audio cassette players, equalizers and mixing consoles.

You state that your client is a freight forwarder which has a client in the business of staging corporate presentations, of varying lengths, in which a corporation would bring together salesmen or managers to introduce a new product, explain a merger or a new procedure. You indicate that such presentations are usually videotaped and may be transmitted via closed circuit if the corporation for whom the presentation is given has the requisite equipment to do so. Upon completion of the presentation, the attendees may break up into smaller groups for other activities. You indicate that the importer is responsible only for the “stagecraft” of the show and not the content of the presentation.


Whether electronic equipment imported for use in corporate presentations is eligible for duty-free treatment under subheading 9817.00.98, HTSUS.


Subheading 9817.00.98, HTSUS, provides that “[t]heatrical scenery, properties, and apparel brought into the United States by proprietors or managers of theatrical, ballet, opera or similar productions arriving from abroad for temporary use by them in such production” will be free of duty. For articles to be classified under subheading 9817.00.98 HTSUS, three basic requirements must be satisfied:

The imported goods must consist of theatrical scenery, properties, and apparel;

The goods must be brought into the U.S. by proprietors or managers of the theatrical, ballet, opera or similar productions; and
the subject goods must be for temporary use in such productions.

In applying these criteria to the type of presentations you mention, while you indicate that the actual items used in each presentation would vary, we note that the duty-free treatment provided by subheading 9817.00.98 is applicable only to “theatrical scenery, properties, and apparel” which are used in a performance of a theatrical production. Ancillary items would not be encompassed by subheading 9817.00.98, HTSUS. And while no specific details have been provided as to the exact content of the presentations, based upon the information provided, inasmuch as their primary purpose appears to be the transmission of corporate information, such presentations would not meet the criteria of theatrical productions, which are designed primarily as entertainment. Moreover, inasmuch as you indicate that the importer would be responsible neither for the content of the productions nor the directing of the performers, but only for the mechanical staging of such sessions, it is doubtful that the importer would qualify as a “proprietor of a theatrical production.”

Lastly, we note that the duty-free treatment of subheading 9817.00.98, HTSUS, is applicable only to those articles imported for temporary use. The provision was enacted in 1995 to replace subheading 9813.00.65, HTSUS, which contained a bonding requirement for obtaining duty-free treatment for the theatrical scenery, properties, and apparel brought into the United States. While the bond requirement was dropped in an effort to reduce the paperwork and the administrative burden involved in importing eligible items, by retaining the language requirement “for temporary use” it is clear that Congress did not intend that the merchandise imported under this provision be used for an unlimited period in a theatrical production in the United States. Therefore, an importer who wishes to claim preferential treatment under subheading 9817.00.98, HTSUS, must be able to establish to the satisfaction of Customs officials at the port of entry that the scenery, properties and apparel which it imports will be used temporarily in a theatrical production or touring show until that production or show ends in the United States or until the merchandise is no longer being used in the production or show, and will be exported at that time.


Based on the information provided, the aforementioned items of electronic equipment (i.e., projections screens, microphones, video/data projectors, speakers, video monitors, data switches, computers, video cameras, etc.) which are imported for use in corporate presentations, are not entitled to preferential tariff treatment under subheading 9817.00.98, HTSUS, which provides for “theatrical scenery, properties, and apparel” that are directly used in the theatrical productions or touring shows.

A copy of this ruling letter should be attached to the entry documents filed at the time the goods are entered. If the documents have been filed without a copy, this ruling should be brought to the attention of the Customs officer handling the transaction.


John Durant
Commercial Rulings Division

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