CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 087878 STB

Mr. Joel K. Simon
Serko & Simon
One World Trade Center
Suite 3371
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 cover.



What is the proper classification of the subject merchandise under the Harmonized Tariff System of the United States (HTSUSA)?


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 -3-

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 -4-

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