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Court Rules Certain Santa Claus Costumes Too Substantial to Be Classified as Festive Articles

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has affirmed a November 2017 ruling by the U.S. Court of International Trade 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., Rubies argued that this costume does not constitute “fancy dress,” which is excluded from classification in Chapter 95. In a 2003 decision also involving Rubies the CAFC said the fancy dress exclusion encompasses textile costumes that are classifiable as wearing apparel under Chapters 61 or 62 and identified certain factors as indicators of wearing apparel.

In this case the CAFC agreed with the CIT that the physical characteristics of the Santa costume’s jacket and pants indicate that they are substantial, durable items manufactured to survive multiple wearings and cleanings over several Christmas seasons, which are characteristics of normal wearing apparel. Among other things, these items are constructed of an acrylic and polyester knitted fabric and have a woven satin fabric lining, finished edges and pockets, and well-sewn seams. The CAFC states that the fact that a person wears the costume during festive Christmas holiday occasions does not preclude it from classification as fancy dress.

As a result, the CAFC upheld the CIT’s classification of 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 CAFC agreed are 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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