US Court determines Thanksgiving and Christmas dinnerware is not eligible for duty-free entry into the US.

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In an interesting case, the U.S. Court of Appeals agreed with the Court of International Trade’s argument that dinnerware decorated with “festive motifs” and frequently used during Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner do not qualify for duty-free treatment because the articles are not “for use in specific religious or cultural ritual celebrations”.

The importer’s dinnerware included holiday designs such as Christmas trees, turkeys, wreaths etc. intended for using during a traditional Thanksgiving or Christmas meal. The importer initially claimed the dinnerware was duty-free under HTSUS 9817.95.01 “Certain Festive Articles”. The importer said the Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners were specific cultural celebrations and the dinnerware was part of the performance of these celebrations. The CIT claimed, and the US Court of Appeals agreed, that while Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner were cultural celebrations, they however were not specific rituals as required under the HTSUS code.