The Court of International Trade was not in the holiday spirit when it issued the decision in Rubie’s Costume Co. v. United States, Slip Op 17-147, which held that the imported Santa Claus suit cannot be considered a “festive article,” but must be considered wearing apparel. Festive articles, imported into the U.S. under heading 9505 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, enter the U.S. free of duty. The Court held that Santa’s man-made fiber jacket and pants would enter as wearing apparel under Chapter 61 and specifically under 6110.30.30 at 32% duty for the jacket and 6103.43.15 at 28.2% duty for the trousers.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection argued and the Court agreed that the quality of the Santa Claus suit took it out of the festive article provision and into wearing apparel. The Court noted the seams, finished edges, closure hardware and durability of the outfit. Not to mention the dry clean only label. The Court confirmed that to be considered a festive article, the costume must be below the threshold of a certain quality. For example, unfinished rather than finished edges.

Not exactly season’s greetings from the Court of International Trade, but a lesson for importers of holiday apparel. Best to review classification prior to entry and not get stuck with a duty bill from U.S. Customs.