Main Idea: Subheading 9817.60.0000 provides a significant duty-saving opportunity for importers, so long that the subheading's very specific requirements are met.

In ruling N273612 (Mar. 31, 2016), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) discussed the tariff classification of various equipment and goods used for the Copa América Centenario, referred to in English as the 2016 Centennial Copa America. The Centennial Copa America was an international men's football (soccer) tournament held in the United States in celebration of the centenary of CONMEBOL (South American Football Confederation) and the Copa América (Spanish and Portuguese for America Cup). The items under review included the following:

  • Soccer goals, nets, balls, stadium seating, food for team/family members, display racks;
  • Audio/media equipment;
  • Uniforms/banners/pictures;
  • Furniture/Office equipment;
  • Promotional materials tied to the event;
  • Timing equipment;
  • Venue equipment and materials to run the event, such as whistles, stretchers;
  • Medical/Training materials such as bandages;
  • Sponsor's goods, materials and equipment to run the event;
  • Team training materials, equipment, tools, uniforms or accessories required for use or to be used to execute the games;
  • Hospitality items that assist an accredited member in displaying the culture of their country, team, sport or bid for future hosting of the event;
  • Broadcasters and Media accredited parties' material, equipment and goods needed or used in conjunction with the event; and
  • Personal items of the accredited family members.

CBP considered whether the equipment and goods are classified under subheading 9817.60.0000 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), which allows, in part, for duty free importation of articles not intended for sale or distribution to the public, but belonging to participants, officials, accredited members, teams and delegations of an international athletic event held in the United States. Specifically, subheading 9817.60.0000 provides:

"Any of the following articles not intended for sale or distribution to the public: personal effects of aliens who are participants in, officials of, or accredited members of delegations to, an international athletic event held in the United States, such as the Olympics and Paralympics, the Goodwill Games, the Special Olympics World Games, the World Cup Soccer Games, or any similar international athletic event as the Secretary of the Treasury may determine, and of persons who are immediate family members of or servants to any of the foregoing persons; equipment and materials imported in connection with any such foregoing event by or on behalf of the foregoing persons or the organizing committee of such an event, articles to be used in exhibitions depicting the culture of a country participating in such an event; and, if consistent with the foregoing, such other articles as the Secretary of the Treasury may allow."

CBP found that the 2016 Centennial Copa America tournament was an international sporting competition viewed by millions around the world, and qualified as an international athletic (sport) event under subheading 9817.60.0000, HTSUS. As such, CBP determined that the equipment and goods were classifiable under subheading 9817.60.0000, HTSUS. The rate of duty is free. Additionally, per U.S. Note 8, Subchapter XVII, Chapter 98, HTSUS, CBP noted that while the articles would be free of taxes and fees that may otherwise be applicable, they were not exempt or excluded from routine or other inspections as may be required by CBP.

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