Inbound Into Customs

Packages going through customs? You may get an update like this. What does it mean for your package? Read more below.

Not everyone has packages being sent to them from out of the country on a regular basis, which is why finding “Inbound Into Customs” popping up in tracking information can be so jarring.


But as more and more people do business online, with companies from around the planet shipping products to all four corners of the globe, this kind of tracking message is going to become a lot more commonplace.


If you have noticed this tracking message pop up recently and aren’t exactly sure of what it means this quick guide should clear everything up for you.


We go over exactly why you’re seeing “Inbound Into Customs” pop up in your tracking information, whether or not you should be worried that your package is going through Customs, and cover a little bit of what you should expect when your package lands in Customs.


Let’s get right into it!


package being inspected in customs


Why Does My Tracking Say “Inbound Into Customs”?


Anytime you order something from outside of the country to be shipped to you here in the United States that package is going to inevitably have to go through the International Sorting Center (ISC) in New York City.


While not “technically” a US Customs facility (it is still run and operated by the USPS), the ISC is the central clearinghouse of sorts for everything that comes into the country from overseas through the mail.


When your tracking information updates that your package is “Inbound Into Customs” it simply means that the next stop for your package along its journey to its ultimate destination is going to be the ISC facility in New York City.


There’s nothing strange, there’s nothing odd, and there’s nothing out of the ordinary for this message to pop up when a package is coming to the United States from an address or a shipping company overseas.


As we highlighted above, every single piece of mail – every single package, parcel, and envelope – that comes from overseas is going to inevitably be redirected through the ISC in New York City.


Should I Be Worried That My Package is Going Through Customs?


Absolutely not!


There’s absolutely zero reason whatsoever to be worried that your package is going through Customs or that it is going to be going through the ISC facility maintained by the USPS.


In fact, you would want to be at least a little bit worried if your package came from overseas and never went through this process since everything coming into the country is supposed to go through that facility!


Often times the very first tracking update that you are going to get for your package when it hits the United States is the “Inbound Into Customs” update.


That’s great news, as it means that your package has finally made it to the United States and is much closer to being delivered than it would have been before. It means that the package is no longer navigating international postal services and is instead in the hands of the USPS.


Tracking information from here is going to be a lot more consistent, a lot more up-to-date, and a lot more accurate – and you’re going to be able to watch as your package moves through the ICS through the rest of the country until it finds its way to your doorstep!


holding a package in customs


How Long Will My Package Be Held By Customs?


The only wrinkle with getting the “Inbound Into Customs” message is that it’s impossible to know exactly when you’re going to get another update from the USPS about your package moving on its journey.


The ISC is the main processing facility for all the mail and all the packages that come into the United States to be later sent on to American addresses.


As you can imagine, that’s a tremendous amount of mail flow on a day-to-day basis and it isn’t showing any signs of slowing down anytime soon.


All of that mail, all of those packages, and all of those parcels are going to be scanned and inspected (almost always by machines, though some are picked out for random physical searches as well) – and that’s going to take a little bit of time.


Now, the ISC definitely has a fantastic reputation for moving things into and out of its facilities as quickly as possible so that Americans don’t have to wait very long for their overseas packages. But anytime you’re talking about this kind of mail flow and this kind of scale there are going to be inevitable delays.


Unlike a package sent from an American address to an American address moving through a USPS facility overnight (and sometimes even faster than that) the odds are pretty good that your “Inbound Into Customs” package is going to be held for at least a couple of days – three or four – and maybe a couple of more.


It’s not at all uncommon for packages to hit the ISC in New York and then stay there for a week or 10 days (usually no longer than that, though). On top of that, you might not see any new updates to your tracking information when your package is being held and processed through the Customs facility, either.


At the end of the day, expected to take at least a couple of days for your package to start moving again (and for your tracking information to update) after you see the “Inbound Into Customs” message.


question mark


Why is My Package Delayed at Customs?


There are a number of different reasons that your package might be getting delayed at Customs, including a whole host of reasons that may have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with you.


For example, one of the most common reasons that packages are delayed at Customs or the ISC is because the paperwork included with those packages is either incomplete or inaccurate (if not left off altogether).


Importer Security Filings (sometimes called the 10+2) have to be recorded for all products that are going to be shipped internationally into the United States, including the smallest of items that may not seem all that important or all that special.


A Bill of Lading, a Commercial Invoice, and a Packing List may also be necessary for different kinds of packages to move through the Customs process quickly – and any incomplete, inaccurate, or missing information on that paperwork is inevitably going to cause a delay as well.


Of course, you also have to consider just how many other packages are moving through Customs at any one particular point in time and how that may delay your package from moving through as well.


Just like traditional mail, there are definitely seasonal swings at Customs that can create much heavier flows of mail than what the ISC is used to handling (like around the holiday season) and that will cause delays for sure.


Then you have to factor in the fact that some packages are (understandably) damaged, dented, or popped open while in transit from international destinations. These packages have to be more closely examined by the ISC and US Customs agents before they can be approved and then moved on further.


It’s also important to understand that sometimes regular, completely innocent packages are flagged with “false positives” for more rigorous inspection just because of the place that they are originating from, the name of the person that they are originating from, or a variety of other factors.


Some packages at the ISC are pulled off for “random inspection” as well, and that’s almost always going to increase the amount of delay between those packages being “Inbound Into Customs” and “Released From Customs” so that they can move further on their shipping journey to your doorstep.


clock melting


How Long Should I Wait for My Package to Clear Before Contacting the USPS?


Because there are inevitably going to be delays with your package going through the ISC and Customs, it’s not a bad idea to give your package anywhere between four and five days after you see the “Inbound Into Customs” message before you start think about contacting the USPS for more details.


As we highlighted earlier, sometimes packages can be held up at the ISC or at Customs for anywhere between a week, 10 days, or even a little bit more than that. This isn’t really all that uncommon.


It’s never fun to know that your package is sitting somewhere in New York not moving closer to your doorstep, especially when you know that the items contained within are innocuous, completely legal, and safe to be sent through the mail to begin with.


Just know that the ISC process is as quick and as efficient as possible and that they have every intention to get your package through the Customs process as soon they can – and on to you – with as little headache or hassle as possible.


Still, if it’s been a week or more since you’ve seen any tracking information update after the “Inbound Into Customs” notification it may not be a bad idea to drop a line to the USPS (or visit your post office directly to ask them what’s going on) for more details.


usps truck delivering mail


Will I Be Updated When My Package Starts to Move Again?




Sometimes you’ll get a notification that your package is “Released From Customs” or “Processing Through Facility”, and sometimes you’ll just get the generic “In Transit” message when you check your tracking information.


At the end of the day, though, your tracking information is going to update the moment that your package is scanned successfully through the ISC and Customs and begins to work its way through the domestic USPS shipping infrastructure.


After that you are going to get message updates just like you would if your package was coming from say California (or any other location in the US). You’ll be able to track your package just as you would any other, watching it move across the country until it reaches your door.


How quickly your package reaches its ultimate destination is going to be influenced by the shipping service purchased at the point-of-sale. If you chose expedited shipping that that’s exactly what you’re going to get from the USPS as soon as it clears Customs, though if you chose standard or first class shipping services things are (obviously) going to take a little bit longer.


Just stay on the lookout for the “Out for Delivery” status update with your tracking info so that you know exactly when your package is going to arrive!



virtual mailbox on desktop


Get Total Control Over Your Mailbox with an US Global Mail Account


If managing your mailbox today – especially when you have international packages coming in – is a bit of a headache or hassle, it may not be a bad idea to consider a US Global Mail virtual mailbox account.


For more than 20 years US Global Mail has been the number one choice for thousands of Americans looking to modernize their mailbox experience beyond what the USPS offers.


For starters, virtual mailbox customers get a far more safe and secure (not to mention private) permanent mailing address – a physical street address – that they can use regardless of how often they move or where they move too.


That physical address can also receive packages and parcels sent from all of the major shipping companies (including FedEx, UPS, and DHL as well as the USPS), something that cannot be said about traditional PO Box is from the USPS.


On top of that, every time a new piece of mail (on envelope, a package, or a parcel) arrives a digital scan of that piece of mail is made and immediately updated to a user’s administrative backend. Notifications go out that a new piece of mail has arrived, letting you track (real time) exactly when your mail arrives – but also letting you know exactly what’s in your mailbox at any one particular point in time, too.


Combine all of that with a whole host of other bonus features (including the ability to forward your mail and your packages to any address on the planet at up to 80% off of traditional postage rates) and it’s not hard to see why so many people modernize their mail experience with US Global Mail.


For more information, check out their website or reach out to US Global Mail customer service today!

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