A look at Festival Articles classifications

Carols in the distance

Laughter is everywhere

First here comes Thanksgiving

Then we celebrate Christmas

I feel the joy floating in the air


Candy canes and bon bons

Angels top the tree

There's present over yonder

One for you one for me


Tinsel wrapping around and around

Candle light-up night and night

Santa Clause ride by side

Wow~ Sparking and bright ~


Christmas is one of my favorite holidays of the year. I just write a poem to express how much I love this beautiful holiday. A bit rhyme, huh~


So I mention a few items here in my poem, candy canes, angels ( Christmas ornament), tinsel ( Christmas theme packaging material), Santa Claus ( Christmas figure ornament ), candle. Have you thought of this question, if I import these items or alike, can I use HTSUS heading 9505, which described as " Festive, carnival or other entertainment articles, including magic tricks and practical joke articles; parts and accessories thereof"? The tariff code under 9505 is all duty-free.


To answer yes or no, we need to first look at


The definition of "Festival Item" from the US CBP perspective

Merchandise is classifiable in heading 9505, HTSUS, as a festival article if the article satisfies two criteria; 1) it must be closely associated with a festive occasion and (2) it must be used or displayed principally during that festival occasion. Additionally, the article must be " closely associated with a festive occasion" to the degree that " the physical appearance of an article is so intrinsically linked to a festive occasion that its use during other time periods would be aberrant"


Let us see a few examples. Guess which are festival motif and which are not? ( cited from CBP trade outreach webinar)



The top row images are all festival motifs and the bottom are NOT festival motifs.




The top row images are festival motifs and the bottom are NOT festival motifs.


A little duke with a happy Eastern greeting will be a festive motif. Without more, a little yellow duke alone is not sufficiently closely associated with Eastern day. If the little yellow duke with a " Happy Spring " greeting will Not be considered as a festival motif still because " happy spring" is not festival specific.



if the sweater is consist of a red and green color schemes without more elements, it cannot be sufficient enough to be classified as a festival item. There is a court case regarding this. Just because the sweater is in red and green color, it does not necessarily mean it is a Christmas festival specific sweater.


The US CBP tries to define the festival articles very precisely even to a degree i think it slightly too narraow-minded because they do not want the importer to abuse the duty-free heading 9505. Therefore, better double-check the definition above when you intend to use the heading 9505 for your merchandise.


These items cannot be classified under 9505 no matter what


Every chapter has its subheading notes and especially chapter 95 has an exceptionally long exclusion list, which further narrows down the acceptable articles under 9505.


(1) Candles

(2) Fireworks or other pyrotechnic articles

(3) bags ( ok, so remember trick or treat bag cannot be festival items under 9505)

(4) Fancy dress of textiles ( ok, so remember the Santa Clause party costume even with Christmas motif cannot be classified under 9505)

(5) Parts of general use, as defined in note 2 to section XV, of base metal, or similar goods of plastics ( so remember, a plastic bow in red and green is not a festival item)

(6) Bells, gongs, or the like ( oh ok remember jingle bell itself is not festival item under 9505)

(7) Electric garlands of all kinds

(8) gloves, mittens, and mitts ( ok, so remember mitts with Christmas motif are still oven mitts

(9) Tableware, kitchenware, toilet articles, carpets, and other textile floor coverings, apparel, bed linen, table linen, toilet linen, kitchen linen, and similar articles having a utilitarian function ( ok, so remember table clothes with Christmas motif image are still considered as table clothes)

(10)Textile flags or bunting ( ok, so remember those patriotic and festival decoration made of cloth, usually in the form of draperies, wide streamers in the color of the flag are not considered as festival item )


What is more, per GRI Rule 3, if the goods can be classified both categories, choose the one more specific rather than more broad. We have a lot of chapters that do not contain exclusion language for festival items of chapter 9505. When it happens, the heading which provides a more specific description shall be preferred to headings.


Therefore, if the articles can be classified under festival items but belong to chapters 1-38, 41 , 46 , 47, 64 , 65, 71, 86-89 91- 95 , 97. You have to choose a more specific chapter. not the festival items under 9505.


Any questions, let us chat.




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