Discussing a mail distribution center may seem somewhat bland, but bear with us here. ISC Chicago IL is a key mail distribution center in the United States. A ton of mail passes through their doors, including a lot of international incoming and outgoing mail. If you have purchased tracking on a package, it will clearly state if it has passed through ISC Chicago.
What Is ISC Chicago, IL?
If you see ISC Chicago on your package tracking information, then you may wonder where your parcel is. All it means is that your package is either located at or passing through, the Chicago International Service Center.
While ISC Chicago deals with some domestic mail, the bulk of what it processes will be mail destined for overseas, or perhaps just arrived in the country. In fact, ISC in Chicago is just one of five USPS processing centers in the United States that is properly equipped to deal with vast volumes of international mail.
If you have ordered a package from overseas and you live in the Chicago area, then chances are that your parcel will travel through ISC at some point. Even if you don’t live in Chicago, there is a pretty good chance that your parcel will end up here too. A lot of couriers run their international services to Chicago purely to deal with the ISC.
Where Is ISC Chicago, Illinois?
As the name suggests, ISC Chicago is located in Chicago.
Because it is primarily dealing with international mail arrivals and departures, it is located close to Chicago O’Hare International Airport. It is just a 12-minute drive away. Mail trucks will be constantly running between the two all day.
While members of the public aren’t able to visit the International Service Center in Chicago, you will be able to find it on Irving Park Road. It is a massive building.
What Type Of Mail Does ISC Chicago IL Deal With?
ISC Chicago IL deals primarily with international mail. This includes both mail that has arrived from overseas as well as mail that is destined for overseas travel. In the latter case, you can think of it as more of a holding center before the mail is shifted onto the planes.
While the International Service Center is owned by USPS, it deals with mail from all of the big carriers. This is because it is one of only a few locations where those custom checks can be carried out.
While the ISC’s primary focus is on international mail, a smattering of domestic mail also passes through the center. However, this is rare. There are other distribution centers throughout Chicago, and thus there isn’t a real need to send it here. The center is capable of dealing with the mail, though.
International Customs at ISC Chicago IL USPS
If you look at the tracking data for your parcel, you will notice that it will stick around at ISC Chicago IL for a few days. Don’t worry. Nobody has lost your parcel. The reason why international packages arrive here is so that they can be checked by customs.
Until customs have given the go-ahead on your package, it won’t leave the ISC. If the ISC rejects your parcel, then you will be informed as such. Although, this is something that is going to be incredibly rare. Most individual parcels are not going to be inspected anywhere near close enough for it to a rejection.
What Happens During Customs Checks at ISC in Chicago?
A customs check at the ISC will have a couple of purposes:
- Ensure that you are not importing anything illegal into the country.
- To determine whether any import tax is due on your package.
These checks will be carried out by the same person (known as a customs officer). Let’s go through what may be looked for at each stage.
Some items are illegal to import into the United States. This includes medication, certain weapons, and even items from certain countries. You will be able to find a full list of illegal items on the USPS website.
If you are sending or receiving a single parcel, chances are that the package won’t go through a ton of checks here. Your package may be X-Rayed and, if it looks suspicious, then the customs officer may open it up.
Since we are sure that you are not shipping illegal items, you won’t have to worry too much about this part.
When a product is imported into the United States, import taxes are due. They won’t be due in all cases. Some products are exempt from import tax. However, most of them will.
When you order a product and it is sent to you internationally, then the sender has to fill in a customs declaration. This is essentially a sticker that is placed on your package. This tells the customs agent how much the items inside the box are worth. It may also include a general overview of the type of product inside of the box.
Remember, a customs agent will always reserve the right to open the box. If they believe that the inside of the box is worth more than what the label says, then you will be charged extra import tax. This is why it is so important that the original sender accurately marks the item value.
The customs agent will then determine how much tax you need to pay. This will always be paid by the recipient. If there is tax to pay, then it will likely be around 5% of the value of the items inside of the box. However, there are some items, albeit none that you are likely to have shipped to you, which can have import taxes as high as 36%!
In many cases, when you order a product from overseas, you will pay an import tax when you purchase the item. The retailer will be responsible for sending this payment to the United States. This is something that most big companies, including Amazon, do.
If you have not paid import tax when you purchased the item, then you will need to pay it. How this works will vary from courier to courier. The product will be released from ISC Chicago, but your courier will reach out to you to ask you to pay the import fees. They will not deliver your parcel until you do so.
How Long Do Custom Checks At ISC In Chicago Take?
Because ISC Chicago is a massive processing center, most custom checks should take no more than 48-hours, with the vast majority of checks being a lot quicker than this.
Sadly, there are cases where the item can get wrapped up in customs a little bit longer than one would hope. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, some packages were taking up to 2-weeks to process.
Sadly, there will be no way to tell at what stage of the customs checks your parcel is at. The ISC in Chicago, IL has no way of speeding up these checks either.
Who Do You Contact If Custom Checks At ISC Chicago Is Taking Too Long?
As we said, most custom checks at ISC in Chicago should take no more than 48-hours, although it can take up to a couple of weeks.
Generally speaking, USPS is not going to deal with the recipient of the parcel. The USPS claim that the customs process can take up to 45-days, and they do not have to inform the recipient unless the customs checks last longer than that. In either case, USPS does not have any way in which they can track down where a parcel is in the facility.
If you believe a parcel is taking a little bit too long at customs, then you can reach out to the sender of the product. They may be able to talk to the courier, who may be able to assist.
Eventually, your parcel will clear customs and it will be on its way to you.
What Happens To Outgoing International Mail at ISC Chicago?
International mail destined for Chicago O’Hare Airport will almost always end up at the international mail center. This is assuming that the package or letter has been sent via USPS.
The packages and mail will hang around the International Service Center before they are ready to be loaded up onto a plane. Some couriers will skip the ISC and take the packages to their own distribution centers.
There may be a limited number of customs checks carried out here, although certainly not to the same extent that arrivals will be checked. The main purpose of these checks is to ensure that whatever you are shipping is legal, and ensuring that the item being shipped wouldn’t be dangerous to an aircraft e.g. explosive materials.
If you are tracking an outgoing parcel that has arrived at ISC Chicago, likely, it will only be here for a few hours, particularly if you are sending to a destination with regular flights. In rare cases, your parcel may be here for a couple of days. This is due to the limited number of flights to the final destination.
If your parcel hasn’t moved in a while, USPS will be able to help you to track it down.
How Long Does a Parcel Take To Be Delivered Once It Leaves ISC In Chicago?
Once your parcel has left ISC in Chicago, it will enter into the standard mail system. It will effectively be treated as domestic mail from this point onward.
If you have to pay any import fees, then you will be informed of them at this stage. Some couriers will not deliver your package until you have paid the import taxes. Other couriers may deliver and then invoice you for the fees later on. Always read the website for your selected courier to know how you are supposed to pay. There may be extra fees if you do not pay the taxes on time.
Once the parcel is in the standard mail system, it should take no longer than a couple of days for the parcel to be delivered. In some cases, USPS may even be able to deliver your package the very next day.
Do bear in mind that not every parcel that arrives at ISC may be destined for the Chicago or Illinois area. If you live on the other side of the country to Chicago, then your package will likely need to head onto another plane. This can add a couple more days to the delivery time. However, don’t worry. The tracking information should move pretty fast at this point.
When your parcel’s tracking says that it has arrived at ‘ISC Chicago, IL USPS’, then it means that your parcel has arrived in the United States and is currently undergoing customs checks. The entire process should take no more than a few days, and then it will be on its way to your home or place of business.
Chances are, by the time the parcel is on its way to you, you will have been waiting a good amount of time for it already. The last thing you want is for the courier to turn up with your parcel and you aren’t in. They may take it back to the depot with them, which can add even more days to the transit time.
While there is nothing you can do about the speed at which your parcel travels through the International Service Center in Chicago, you can make sure that your parcel always has somebody ready to receive it. All you need to do is set yourself up with a virtual mailbox with US Global Mail.
When you have a virtual mailbox with US Global Mail, the parcel will be sent directly to us. We are always there to receive your parcel, so you don’t have to worry about the package being sent back to the depot. You can always collect the parcel from us at a time that suits you.