If you do a lot of shipping, or have a lot of stuff shipped to you, the odds are pretty good that every now and again – at least once – you’re going to find a funny message pop up in your tracking that looks like this:
“Processed Through Facility ISC New York NY (USPS)”
Plenty of people have seen this message before and had absolutely no idea what it means, and for good reason.
That’s not the kind of tracking message that people see all the time, and it’s not immediately clear what the ISC New York NY is, why your package would be there, how long it’s going to be there, or anything else (for that matter)!
But that’s why we’ve put together this quick guide.
Below you’re going to learn exactly what the ISC New York NY facility is, why your package may be stopped off therefore a little bit, and what the tracking message you’ve just seen above means – and when you can expect your package to start moving along to its ultimate destination again.
Let’s jump right in!
What is the ISC New York, Anyway?
To kick things off, if you see the “Processed Through Facility ISC New York NY (USPS)” status update in your tracking information it simply means that your package is at US Customs.
The ISC New York NY is the “short code” for the New York International Service Center, a major clearinghouse sort of facility where every piece of mail (and every package) leaving the United States – or arriving in the United States – is handled by the USPS.
It’s not at all uncommon for mail to get sort of lost in the shuffle here for a couple of days just because of the volume of mail and packages that the ISC in New York handles on a day-to-day basis.
That can cause more than a little bit of confusion for people that are hoping to get their hands on their packages in a hurry. But now that you have a better idea of why your mail or package is at the ISC, it’s important to dig a little bit deeper into the ins and outs of how to navigate this situation.
What Does the “ISC New York NY (USPS)” Update Mean?
For starters, you (usually) aren’t going to get any more context about what your package or mail is doing after it arrives at the ISC beyond the fact that it is processing through the facility – either headed out to another country overseas or being checked and double checked before it’s being allowed entry into the United States.
Context alone is going to help you figure out exactly what’s going on with your package.
If you are sending it out to an address overseas, then the odds are (understandably) pretty good that the ISC is clearing your stuff for international travel.
If, on the other hand, you are the recipient of a package or piece of mail from overseas than the US Customs folks are making sure that everything is good to go before the package moves through the domestic USPS infrastructure.
Different pieces of mail and different packages are going to be handled differently at the ISC depending on a variety of different factors, including (but not limited to):
- What the envelope or package has been declared as
- What the contents have been described as
- The originating address or the ultimate destination address
- The size of the package
… And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
No matter what, though, this update popping up in your tracking info means that your mail or packages going to be spending at least a night or two with the folks at US Customs.
Why is My Package Going Through the ISC in New York?
Every piece of mail that is headed to addresses in the United States from overseas has to go through US Customs, just like anything else – or anyone else – that comes into the country from another nation.
There are specific rules, regulations, and even federal laws that dictate what can and what cannot be shipped into the United States. The US Customs agent tasked with enforcing these rules, regulations, and laws take their responsibility very seriously, and are just as rigorous as humanly possible when conducting their inspections.
Just to really hammer this home, every single piece of mail and every single package coming into the United States from overseas is going to be shuffled through the ISC in New York City.
It’s not that US Customs decided that your package or special, odd, or unusual. It’s just the normal course of having something sent to you from addresses or individuals outside of the country.
If, on the other hand, your package is intended to go to an address overseas it’s also going to have to go through the US Customs clearing process.
The United States want to make sure that illegal, listen, or contraband items aren’t being shipped from American citizens abroad. The US Customs inspection team are going to make sure that isn’t happening to the best of their ability as well.
What Does It Mean When My Package is Being Processed Through the ISC?
As a general rule of thumb, most packages – and certainly pieces of mail – aren’t going to be all that deeply inspected by US Customs when being processed through the ISC in New York, New York.
Instead, packages and mail are going to be inspected by machine to make sure that they meet specific parameters as established by the Customs agents that are working there.
Most all of these pieces of mail and packages are going to be processed rapidly and automatically on a 24/7 basis. Boxes and larger envelopes are x-rayed, with everything checked by machine algorithms as well as multiple sets of eyeballs throughout the processing line.
Every now and again, though, packages and pieces of mail may need to be pulled from the “general population”, if you will, to be more personally inspected by US Customs agents.
If that’s the case, these items will be popped out of the processing line and handled personally by representatives of the organization working at the ISC directly. Most of the time, the inspection will proceed without having to open anything at all.
If the folks at US Customs do in fact after open things up they usually leave a note on the box as well as reseal everything up with US Custom’s tape that makes it pretty obvious what has occurred.
More often than not, the boxes and packages that are pulled aside for “random checks” or more closely inspected at the New York ISC our packages and boxes that:
- Are oversized or irregularly shaped
- Have missing or incomplete paperwork
- Have unpaid duties attached
- Are found by the automated scanners to be potentially carrying contraband or prohibited items
The overwhelming majority of packages and mail that are being sent out of the country, however, do not go through anywhere near as rigorous an inspection process.
Sure, these items will be x-rayed and scanned/sorted for delivery overseas. But the overwhelming majority of the security checks and verification that they are containing items legally allowed to enter into the country will be handled at the customs agency of the country they are being sent to.
How Long is My Package Going to Be Held By the ISC?
This is where things can get a little bit tricky and why so many people get anxious when they see “Processed Through ISC New York NY (USPS)” pop up on their tracking information.
It’s kind of impossible to know exactly how long a package or piece of mail is going to be stuck processing through the ISC facilities in New York City.
Some pieces of mail are able to be processed in just a few days (and sometimes even faster than that). Larger packages and parcels, though, almost always going to be held in the processing facility for at least three or four days – and sometimes even longer than that.
In fact, it’s not all that highly unusual for packages and parcels going through the ISC facility to be held for anywhere between 7 days and 10 days. Some people report not seeing any movement whatsoever on their packages in the ISC for 14 days or more, even.
And then of course you have the really extreme stories about packages that end up being delivered five or six months after they get lost in the blackhole that can be US Customs at the ISC in New York City.
There’s even a famous story of a package getting delivered years after it was first sent out, simply because it was lost somewhere in the shuffle of the ISC and just sort of bounced around until inevitably and eventually getting moved on to its ultimate destination.
Imagine what getting that package must’ve felt like!
My Package Might Be Stuck at the ISC – What Can I Do?
As highlighted above, you never really know just how long your packages going to be processing through the ISC – which can make it rather difficult to know if your package is “stuck” or simply going through the motions little slower than expected.
This is why it’s so important to wait a little longer than you probably would have otherwise to file a complaint or to contact the USPS to figure out exactly what’s going on.
You’ll want to give your package or mail at the ISC at least three or four days (and maybe even a week or so) to processed through the ISC before you start to get nervous about a delay.
After that much time as past it’s all right to give the USPS a call (their customer service is generally pretty solid about these kinds of things), though they may or may not be able to help you figure out exactly what’s happening at the ISC.
If your package has been pulled off for more examination by the US Customs agents there then you may be updated about its status and alerted to this fact. If, on the other hand, your mail or package is just moving slowly through the ISC system than the USPS will have no way of knowing for sure how much longer it’s going to take.
If it’s been two weeks or more, though, a call to the USPS is absolutely warranted. They may even direct you to representatives at the ISC that can help you, too!
How Do I Know When My Package is Back on the Move?
You’ll know that your package or your mail is back on the move after being processed through the ISC New York NY (USPS) facilities as soon as you see your tracking information update.
More often than not, the tracking information is going to update as “Departed ISC New York NY (USPS)” – though you might get an update that simply says your packages now “In Transit”.
Either way, as soon as you see new tracking statuses on your information you’ll know that your mail is moving once again through the USPS infrastructure and is finding its way to its ultimate destination in the United States (or abroad)!
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