Sending and receiving international mail? If your packages pass through the United States, they are likely to be processed by the USPS International Service Center (ISC) in Chicago. This important facility serves as the central hub for all inbound and outbound international mail.

If you’re short on time, here are the key facts: The ISC Chicago is USPS’s largest processing center for global mail. It handles millions of packages and letters each year from over 200 countries.

Overview and Purpose of the ISC Chicago

The USPS ISC Chicago International Service Center plays a crucial role in the efficient handling and processing of international mail entering and leaving the United States. As one of the largest International Service Centers in the country, it serves as a hub for mail from all over the world, ensuring its smooth transition and delivery to its final destinations.

Processes all inbound international mail entering the U.S.

The ISC Chicago serves as a primary gateway for international mail entering the United States. It receives and processes millions of packages, letters, and parcels from various countries on a daily basis.

The center is responsible for conducting customs inspections, verifying the contents of the mail, and ensuring compliance with import regulations. With its advanced technology and experienced staff, the ISC Chicago helps expedite the clearance process, allowing international mail to reach its intended recipients in a timely manner.

Outbound sorting center for global mail from the U.S.

In addition to processing inbound mail, the ISC Chicago also functions as a sorting center for global mail originating from the United States. It handles a significant volume of mail that is destined for countries all over the world.

The center uses state-of-the-art automated systems to sort and distribute these outgoing mail items efficiently. This ensures that international mail from the United States is properly sorted and prepared for transportation, ultimately facilitating its delivery to recipients in other countries.

Opened in 1999, expanded in 2006

The ISC Chicago was established in 1999 to meet the growing demand for international mail processing services. Due to its strategic location in the Midwest, the facility was able to efficiently handle the increasing volume of mail coming in and out of the United States.

In 2006, the center underwent a significant expansion to accommodate the ever-growing volume of international mail. This expansion included the addition of state-of-the-art sorting equipment and enhanced security measures.

Advanced technology and automation

The ISC Chicago is equipped with advanced technology and automation systems to streamline the processing of international mail. Automated sorting machines, barcode readers, and conveyor systems are used to efficiently sort and route mail items based on their destination.

This automation not only improves efficiency but also reduces the risk of manual errors. The center also utilizes advanced security measures, including X-ray machines and scanners, to ensure the safety and integrity of international mail.

ISC Chicago Mail Processing Capabilities

Serves as central U.S. gateway for international mail

The USPS ISC Chicago International Service Center plays a crucial role as the central gateway for international mail in the United States. Located in Chicago, Illinois, this state-of-the-art facility processes and distributes mail from all over the world.

As one of the largest and busiest mail processing centers in the country, it serves as a vital link between the United States and the rest of the world.

Sorts over 5 million packages and letters daily

With its impressive scale and efficiency, the ISC Chicago handles an astonishing volume of mail on a daily basis. The facility sorts and processes over 5 million packages and letters every single day. This massive operation ensures that international mail is sorted accurately and promptly, allowing for smooth and efficient delivery to its final destinations.

Customs clearance and inspections

One of the key functions of the ISC Chicago is customs clearance and inspections. As international mail arrives at the facility, it undergoes thorough inspections to ensure compliance with customs regulations and to detect any prohibited or restricted items.

These inspections are crucial for maintaining the safety and security of the mail system and preventing the entry of illicit or dangerous materials into the country.

Forwards mail to destinations across the U.S.

Upon completion of customs clearance and inspections, the ISC Chicago International Service Center forwards the mail to its final destinations across the United States. This includes both domestic and international mail destined for various cities and towns within the country.

The center’s efficient sorting and forwarding processes ensure that mail is quickly and accurately delivered to recipients, contributing to the overall efficiency of the USPS mail system.

Types of Mail Handled

The USPS ISC Chicago International Service Center handles various types of mail, including letters and postcards, flats and magazines, all shapes and sizes of packages, as well as express, priority, first-class, and standard mail.

Letters and postcards

The ISC Chicago processes a significant volume of letters and postcards every day. These items are typically smaller in size and can be easily sorted and processed by automated machines. Whether you are sending a heartfelt letter to a loved one or a postcard from your travels, rest assured that the ISC Chicago will handle them with care.

Flats and magazines

Flats, such as large envelopes, catalogs, and magazines, are also processed at the ISC Chicago. These items are generally larger in size and require special handling. The center’s state-of-the-art sorting machines efficiently process flats and ensure they reach their intended destinations in a timely manner.

All shapes and sizes of packages

The ISC Chicago is equipped to handle packages of all shapes and sizes. From small parcels to larger boxes, the center has the necessary infrastructure to process and sort these items accurately. Whether you’re sending a gift to a friend or receiving a package from overseas, the ISC Chicago will ensure that your package is handled with care.

Express, priority, first-class, and standard mail

The ISC Chicago handles various classes of mail, including express, priority, first-class, and standard mail. Express mail offers the fastest delivery service, while priority mail provides expedited delivery at a lower cost.

First-class mail is used for letters and packages weighing up to 13 ounces, while standard mail is typically used for bulk mailings. The ISC Chicago ensures that all classes of mail are processed efficiently and sent on their way to their respective destinations.

For more information about the types of mail handled at the USPS ISC Chicago International Service Center, you can visit the official USPS website at

Onward Transportation of Processed Mail

Once the mail items are processed at the USPS ISC Chicago International Service Center, they go through a carefully planned onward transportation system to ensure timely delivery to their intended destinations.

This transportation system involves a combination of air and ground transportation, high-speed conveyor systems, dispatch trucks to airports and other USPS facilities, as well as partnerships with FedEx, UPS, and other carriers.

Air and ground transportation

The USPS ISC Chicago International Service Center utilizes both air and ground transportation to move processed mail efficiently. Air transportation is particularly crucial for international destinations, allowing for faster delivery across long distances.

The center works closely with major airlines to secure cargo space on their flights, ensuring that mail can be transported quickly and reliably. For domestic destinations, ground transportation, including trucks and trains, is utilized to transport mail to USPS facilities throughout the country.

High-speed conveyor systems

To maintain smooth and efficient movement of mail within the ISC Chicago International Service Center, high-speed conveyor systems are employed. These conveyor systems can handle large volumes of mail, sorting and directing it to the appropriate destinations.

The use of such systems helps to minimize delays and ensure that mail is processed and ready for onward transportation as quickly as possible.

Dispatch trucks to airports and other USPS facilities

Once the mail has been sorted and prepared for onward transportation, dispatch trucks are responsible for transporting it to airports and other USPS facilities. These trucks are equipped to handle large volumes of mail and are strategically scheduled to ensure timely delivery.

They play a vital role in the transportation chain, ensuring that mail is efficiently moved from the ISC Chicago International Service Center to its next destination.

Partnerships with FedEx, UPS, and other carriers

The USPS ISC Chicago International Service Center has established partnerships with major carriers such as FedEx, UPS, and other private logistics companies. These partnerships allow for the seamless transfer of mail between different transportation networks.

By leveraging the extensive networks and resources of these carriers, the USPS can further enhance the efficiency of onward transportation, particularly for international destinations.

In collaboration with these partners, the USPS can tap into their extensive flight schedules, ground transportation networks, and expertise in logistics management. This collaboration helps to ensure that mail is delivered promptly and reliably to its final destinations, both domestically and internationally.

ISC Chicago’s Role in Global Commerce

The USPS ISC Chicago International Service Center plays a crucial role in facilitating global commerce by supporting e-commerce and mail-order businesses. With the rise of online shopping, ISC Chicago efficiently processes and distributes packages, ensuring that they reach their destinations in a timely manner.

This is great news for businesses and consumers alike, as it allows for seamless cross-border trade and enhances customer satisfaction. Whether it’s a small package containing a unique handmade item or a large shipment of products, ISC Chicago handles it all with precision and care.

Supports e-commerce and mail-order businesses

ISC Chicago is a vital part of the supply chain for e-commerce and mail-order businesses. It serves as a gateway for packages coming from overseas, ensuring that they are properly cleared through customs and delivered to their final destinations.

By streamlining the import process, ISC Chicago helps businesses save time and money, enabling them to focus on growing their customer base and expanding their operations. Without ISC Chicago’s efficient services, international trade for e-commerce and mail-order businesses would be significantly hindered.

Enables delivery of goods from overseas

ISC Chicago plays a crucial role in enabling the delivery of goods from overseas. It serves as a hub where packages from various countries are consolidated and sorted for further distribution. This allows for efficient transportation and timely delivery of goods to customers across the United States.

Whether it’s the latest fashion trends from Europe or innovative technology from Asia, ISC Chicago ensures that these products reach American consumers quickly and reliably.

Important for international documents and communications

In addition to packages, ISC Chicago also handles international documents and communications. It plays a vital role in processing and forwarding important documents, such as passports, visas, and legal papers.

ISC Chicago’s efficient handling of these documents ensures that individuals and businesses can communicate and conduct business seamlessly across borders. Without ISC Chicago, international correspondence would be significantly delayed, hindering global collaboration and communication.

Vital economic link between U.S. and other nations

ISC Chicago serves as a vital economic link between the United States and other nations. By efficiently processing and distributing international mail and packages, ISC Chicago supports trade and economic growth between the U.S. and countries around the world.

This fosters international cooperation, promotes cultural exchange, and contributes to the global economy. ISC Chicago’s role as a facilitator of international trade and communication is essential for maintaining strong economic ties with other nations.


The USPS ISC Chicago is at the heart of worldwide postal operations. Its massive scale and capabilities help deliver over 5 million international items per day. Understanding this facility provides insight into how global mail makes its way into and out of the United States.

So the next time you get a package from abroad or mail something overseas, it will likely pass through postal workers’ hands at the USPS’s essential Chicago hub!

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