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CIT Rules String Lights Not Classifiable as Christmas Tree Lights

In an interesting decision this week, the Court of International Trade overturned a previous Customs decision on the classification of string lights.  CBP’s classification was overturned finding that these particular lighting sets were meant for general use, rather than a Christmas tree specific use.

Wired lighting sets of a kind used for Christmas trees are classifiable in subheading 9405.30.0010 at a duty rate of 8 percent.  Whereas other string lights are classifiable as 9405.50.8000 under “other electric lamps and lighting fittings” at a duty rate of 3.9 percent.

The basis of this decision was on the principle use of the lights.  String lights with black or white cords and lights with green cords that have packaging with no indication of Christmas use are classifiable at the lower rate of duty.  Lights “of a kind used for Christmas trees” would now be considered as sets that indicate the ‘principle use’ is for Christmas trees specifically.

If you would like to read the court’s decision, it can be found here.  This decision is a good case study of the logic employed by U.S. Customs and the Court of International Trade for classification issues.