CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 087878 STB
Mr. Joel K. Simon
Serko & Simon
One World Trade Center
New York, N.Y. 10048
RE: Santa Snow Domes
Dear Mr. Simon:
This is in response to your inquiry of September 6, 1990,
concerning the tariff classification of an item identified as a
Santa Snow Dome to be imported from Taiwan. A sample was
submitted with your inquiry.
The sample is a glass dome filled with water containing a
polyurethane figure depicting Santa Claus in a winter snow scene
with his arms extended around certain forest animals and holding
a lantern. The winter snow scene represents a rock island
surrounded by water. The figure of Santa Claus and forest
animals is surrounded by a Christmas tree and seasonal gifts.
The summit of the rock island is enclosed in a glass water dome
which, when shaken, scatters small white particles, which then
fall slowly on the figures in order to depict a snowfall.
The Santa Snow Dome measures 6 inches high and has a base
with a diameter of approximately 4-3/8 inches. The value of the
snow dome is $4.48 each with the following value breakdown:
polyurethane base, $1.83; polyurethane decorations, $1.20; ball
(glass with water) $0.39; other parts, $1.06. According to your
letter, the Santa Snow Dome is produced, marketed and sold for
use during the Christmas holiday.
A meeting was held between Customs personnel and
representatives of your firm concerning this merchandise on
March 19, 1991. In addition to the sample, you submitted a book
entitled "Snowdomes" and copies of various snowdome newsletters.
The "Snowdomes" book is being returned to you under separate
What is the proper classification of the subject merchandise
under the Harmonized Tariff System of the United States (HTSUSA)?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
The General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) set forth the
legal framework in which merchandise is to be classified under
the HTSUSA. GRI 1 requires that classification be determined
first according to the terms of the headings of the tariff and
any relative section or chapter notes and, unless otherwise
required, according to the remaining GRI's taken in order.
Heading 9505, HTSUSA, provides, in pertinent part, for
"[f]estive, carnival or other entertainment articles." The
Explanatory Notes offer guidance in the interpretation of the
headings. The Explanatory Note to heading 9505 indicates 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.
* * *
Articles classifiable in heading 9505, HTSUSA, tend to have no
function other than decoration.
The subject Santa Snow Dome is decorative and displays a
Christmas motif. This item, however, is basically a water globe.
Water globes, as a class or kind of merchandise, are not
specifically holiday related; they are sold year-round in a wide
variety of motifs. Water globes are not "traditionally used at",
or traditionally associated with Christmas to the same degree as
nativity scenes, Christmas stockings and the other items
mentioned in the above Explanatory Notes. Additionally, water
globes often serve a utilitarian purpose as paperweights and are
commonly considered to be collectors' items regardless of whether
the motif is holiday related.
In your correspondence dated December 18, 1990, you contend
that Christmas snowdomes can be classified separately from other
types of water globes/snowdomes, such as souvenir snowdomes and
"Fan Domes" (which are sports related), and thus form a separate
"class or kind" of merchandise. We do not agree. Dividing water
globes for classification purposes in this manner is comparable
to classifying a whole host of basic items, for example, plates,
coffee mugs, dolls, etc., based merely on the particular
decoration or motif of the individual items. Although some
groups of snowdomes depicting certain motifs may be given their
own names, the various snowdome newsletters submitted with your
inquiry clearly demonstrate that water globes of all types,
shapes, and motifs are considered as possible collectors' items
for hobbyists. In the newsletter entitled "Snow Biz", submitted
with your inquiry, the following is stated at page 3:
Snowdome collectors fall into four broad groups.
The first group only buys new objects, especially
higher-priced decorative glass globes. Another
group of collectors only buys older glass water
globes from the 1930s and '40s, made with plastic
or ceramic bases.
To the next group, older plastic snowdomes are the
only objects worth their weight in Nostalgia. Many
of these collectors own glass globes, but only
because they receive them as gifts. The largest
group collects ALL types of snowdomes, including
such second cousins as liquid-filled key chains.
(all emphasis are from original text)
We note that, in the above language, there is no breakout for
Christmas related water globes. While it is certainly possible
that individuals may exist who only collect Christmas related
water globes, there is no basis for the subdivision of the basic
water globe items; water globes clearly form a class or kind of
merchandise regardless of the particular motif depicted therein.
Consequently, the subject Santa Dome is not classifiable in
heading 9505, HTSUSA.
You also contend that the subheading for Christmas ornaments
is not limited to Christmas tree ornaments and, therefore,
Christmas related snowdomes are classifiable under subheading
9505.10.25, HTSUSA, as other Christmas ornaments. Since we have
determined that this merchandise is not classifiable in Chapter
95, it is not necessary to address the arguments concerning the
competing subheadings of Chapter 95.
As a composite good, the subject article is not classifiable
under GRI 1 or 2, so reference must be made to GRI 3. GRI 3(b)
provides that composite goods constructed of different
components shall be classified as if they consisted of the
component which gives them their essential character. The
Explanatory Notes to GRI 3(b) indicate that essential character
may be determined by considering "the nature of the material or
component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of
a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods."
The role that the glass dome or globe plays in relation to
the use of the article (it is clearly marketed as a glass globe),
along with its weight and substantial bulk, strongly suggest that
this globe imparts the essential character of the merchandise.
Thus, the Santa Snow Dome is classifiable in Heading 7013,
HTSUSA, glassware used for indoor decoration.
Water globes are not traditionally used at Christmas; the
Santa Snowdome at issue, therefore, is properly classifiable
under subheading 7013.99.80, HTSUSA, which provides for glassware
of a kind used for... indoor decoration or similar purposes,
other glassware, other, other, other, valued over $3.00 each,
other, valued over $3.00 but not over $5.00 each. The applicable
duty rate is 15% ad valorem.
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division