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Costume Too Substantial to be Classified as Festive Article, Court Rules

Friday, November 03, 2017
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Court of International Trade ruled Oct. 31 that “a relatively well-made, durable, dry clean only Santa Claus costume” is properly classified as wearing apparel and is therefore excluded from classification as a festive article under HTSUS 9505.90.60, which would have qualified it for duty-free treatment.

In Rubies Costume Co. v. U.S. the CIT said the physical characteristics of the suit’s jacket and pants indicate that they are substantial, durable items manufactured to survive multiple wearings and cleanings over several Christmas seasons. These characteristics include a lining, full front opening secured by a zipper, long sleeves with turned edges, and a straight cut hemmed bottom on the jacket and a lining, tightly stitched interior seams, and pockets with hemmed edges on the pants.

The court acknowledged that the jacket and pants may be intended for use only during the Christmas season but stated that items worn for specific and perhaps infrequent purposes may constitute wearing apparel. The court also said it does not interpret a 2003 appeals court ruling on festive articles as “supplying a bright-line rule whereby any item of festive value is excluded from classification as wearing apparel.”

As a result, the court classified the jacket under HTSUS 6110.30.30 (32 percent duty) and the pants under HTSUS 6103.43.15 (28.2 percent duty). Other suit components at issue included gloves, which the CIT classified under HTSUS 6116.93.94 (18.6 percent duty), and a bag, classified under HTSUS 4202.92.30 (17.6 percent duty).

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