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HQ 966882

March 10, 2004

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 966882 NSH


TARIFF NO.: 9405.30.00

Mr. Tony Collini
John S. Connor, Inc.
401 East Pratt Street, Suite 700
Baltimore, MD 21202

RE: Reconsideration of NY J89048; electric string light sets

Dear Mr. Collini:

This is in response to your letter of November 18, 2003, requesting reconsideration of NY J89048, dated November 7, 2003, on behalf of Everstar Merchandise Corporation, on the classification of four electric string light sets under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Your letter has been referred to this office for reply.


The articles under reconsideration consist of four styles of electric light sets, each of which is composed of a wire harness incorporating either 50 or 100 equally spaced sockets for miniature colored light bulbs. Each style includes a combination connector consisting of plug blades and a socket on one end and a socket connector on the other end that permits the connection of additional light sets to form a longer garland. The light sets are capable of both indoor and outdoor use on account of the strings being made with waterproof sockets and are described as follow:

1) Item No. 66-092 is approximately 35 feet in length and consists of 100 blue miniature light bulbs.

2) Item No. 66-431 is approximately 17.5 feet in length and consists of 50 red miniature light bulbs.

3) Item No. 66-480 is approximately 17.5 feet in length and consists of 50 clear miniature light bulbs.

4) Item No. 66-512 is approximately 35 feet in length and consists of 100 blue miniature light bulbs.

In NY J89048, Customs classified the four light sets under subheading 9405.30.00, HTSUS, which provides for “Lighting sets of a kind used for Christmas trees.” However, you assert that the appropriate classification is under subheading 9405.40.80, HTSUS, which provides for “Other electric lamps and lighting fittings: Other.”


Whether the subject light sets are classified as lighting sets of a kind used for Christmas trees under subheading 9405.30.00, HTSUS, or as other electric lamps and lighting fittings under subheading 9405.40.80, HTSUS.


Merchandise is classifiable under the HTSUS in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 provides that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes and, provided such headings or notes do not otherwise require, according to the remaining GRIs 2 through 6.

The Explanatory Notes (EN) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System represent the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level. While neither legally binding nor dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS and are generally indicative of the proper interpretation of these headings. See T.D. 89-80.

Festive, carnival or other entertainment articles, including electric garlands, are provided for in heading 9505, HTSUS. However, chapter 95, Note 1(t), HTSUS, specifically excludes “electric garlands or all kinds” and directs that they be classified under heading 9405, HTSUS.

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

Lamps and lighting fittings including searchlights and spotlights and parts thereof, not elsewhere specified or included; illuminated signs, illuminated nameplates and the like, having a permanently fixed light source, and parts thereof not elsewhere specified or included:

9405.30.00 Lighting sets of a kind used for Christmas trees

Other electric lamps and lighting fittings:

9405.40.80 Other

In making our determination, we note initially that subheading 9405.30.00, HTSUS, is a principal use provision within the meaning ascribed in Primal Lite v. United States, 15 F. Supp. 2d 915 (CIT 1998); aff’d 182 F. 3d 1362 (CAFC 1999). In Primal Lite, the court concluded that subheading 9405.30.00, HTSUS, is a principal use provision and therefore subject to Additional U.S. Rule of Interpretation 1(a), HTSUS. Therefore, classification under the heading is controlled by the principal use of goods of that class or kind to which the imported goods belong in the United States at or immediately prior to the date of the importation. In determining the principal use of a product, Customs considers a variety of factors including general physical characteristics, the expectation of the ultimate purchaser, channels of trade, and the environment of sale (accompanying accessories, manner of advertisement and display). See United States v. Carborundum Company, 63 CCPA 98, C.A.D. 1172, 536 F.2d 373 (1976), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 979. In sum, principal use can be defined as an article’s use which exceeds any other single use.

In considering the Christmas light sets at issue, there is no argument that their purpose is for use during the Christmas season or that they represent an electric garland that necessitates classification under heading 9405, HTSUS, pursuant to the exclusion in Note 1(t) of chapter 95. Rather, the issue is one of specificity as pertains to the subheadings at issue, i.e. determining whether the lights are, by their design, principally for use on Christmas trees or whether they are typical of light sets that are used to decorate objects other than Christmas trees. It should be noted that although an item may be put to some atypical use, this factor would not be determinative for purposes of classification.

You state that the light sets at issue are specifically designed for either indoor or outdoor use as evidenced by the fact that the strings are made with waterproof sockets. Therefore, it is asserted that they are intended to have a dual indoor and outdoor use, thereby not limiting them to decorating only Christmas trees. As a result, they could be used, for example, to decorate windows, mantels, patios, roofs, banisters, shrubs and archways during the Christmas season. To support this contention you note that three New York (NY) rulings, NY I83131, dated July 10, 2002, NY I83486, dated August 5, 2002 and NY J84195, dated June 19, 2003, respectively, all were issued for light sets of a similar style and, in those instances, the proper classification was 9405.40.80, HTSUS.

Regarding the waterproof sockets, Customs does not believe that this factor by itself is determinative for finding the principal use of the lights at issue is for decorative purposes other than Christmas trees. Although the lights could be used outdoors, we note that not only can these lights be used to decorate outdoor Christmas trees, but that waterproof sockets can be of benefit to indoor Christmas trees, especially those which are placed in water. We further note that the rulings cited above pertain to products that are not substantially similar to the light sets at issue because they address net lights and poinsettia light sets, or else regard electric garlands of significant length as to preclude them from decorating only Christmas trees. Rather, as evidenced by the marketing of the lights at issue in the Christmas section of retail shops as Christmas tree lights, and given their basic design, it is apparent that decorating Christmas trees constitutes their principal use. In the absence of additional evidence, Customs cannot find that these lights are intended to have multiple uses that would necessitate their classification under subheading 9405.40.80, HTSUS.

Given the basic design of the light sets and the manner in which they are marketed, their principal use is for decorating Christmas trees and they are classified under subheading 9405.30.00, HTSUS, as “[l]amps and lighting fittings not elsewhere specified or included : [l]ighting sets of a kind used for Christmas trees.”


The electric string light sets are classified under subheading 9405.30.00, HTSUS, as “[l]amps and lighting fittings not elsewhere specified or included : [l]ighting sets of a kind used for Christmas trees.”


NY J89048 is AFFIRMED.


Myles B. Harmon, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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