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Santa suit items excluded from tariff classification as “festive articles”

Santa suit items excluded from tariff classification

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit today affirmed a judgment of the trade court concerning the tariff classification of imported “Santa Claus” costumes. The trade court granted summary judgment for the government, finding that several items of the Santa suits were articles of normal wearing apparel and thus were excluded from a tariff classification as “festive articles.”


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The case is: Rubies Costume Co. v. United States, 2018-1305 (Fed. Cir. April 29 2019). Read the Federal Circuit decision [PDF 236 KB]


The company imported a nine-piece Santa suit consisting of a jacket, pants, gloves, a toy sack, a beard, a wig, a hat, a belt, and shoe covers.

The company in 2012 initially requested a binding pre-importation ruling from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on the tariff classification of the Santa suit. In 2013, CBP issued a ruling letter in which it classified the Santa suit under several different tariff classifications, and in October 2013 after the company entered the merchandise, CBP liquidated the entry under the following classifications and duty rates:


HTSUS* classification

Customs duty rate (ad valorem)










Toy sack



Beard, wig, hat, belt, shoe covers


Duty free

*Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States

The company filed a protest, and contended that all nine pieces of the Santa suit were to be properly classified under HTSUS chapter 95 as “festive articles” and thus for duty-free treatment. Eventually, the company sought review in the U.S. Court of International Trade which granted summary judgment for the government, finding that certain items of the Santa suit were not eligible for festive article treatment. However, the trade court’s classifications of the items were under different HTSUS headings than those assigned by CBP.

The company appealed, claiming that the trade court erred in granting summary judgment because there was a genuine issue of fact as to whether the Santa suit was a festive article or fancy dress.

The Federal Circuit today affirmed. The appeals court explained that there was no dispute as to whether the Santa suit was a costume traditionally worn in conjunction with the celebration of Christmas. Rather, the dispute centered on the meaning and scope of terms in the HTSUS (and not the nature of the Santa suit itself). The Federal Circuit considered the fabric, construction, and other factors that went into the making of the Santa suit (including that the jacket and pants required dry clearing), and found that there were certain characteristics of “normal wearing apparel” (for instance, with regard to the jacket and pants). As the appeals court noted, neither the jacket nor pants had any embellishments. Further, the Federal Circuit held that the trade court correctly found the proper HTSUS classifications for the gloves and the toy sack, and thus excluded them from the classification as “festive articles.”

The correct classification of the merchandise at issue, thus, was found to be under HTSUS 6110.30.30, 6103.43.15, 6116.93.94, and 4209.92.30.


For more information on this topic or to learn more about KPMG’s Trade & Customs Services, contact:

Doug Zuvich
Partner and Global Practice Leader
T: 312-665-1022

John L. McLoughlin
Principal and East Coast Leader
T: 267-256-2614

Andy Siciliano
Partner and National Practice Leader
T: 631-425-6057

Luis (Lou) Abad
Principal, Washington National Tax
T: 212-954-3094

Irina Vaysfeld
T: 212-872-2973

Amie Ahanchian
Managing Director
T: 202-533-3247

Robert Waldrop
T: 212-954-8117

Gisele Belotto
Managing Director
T: 305-913-2779

Christopher Young
T: 312-665-3229

Andy Doornaert
Managing Director
T: 313-230-3080

George Zaharatos
T: 404-222-3292

Jessica Libby
Managing Director
T: 612-305-5533

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