Until the early 1970s, citizens applying for passports had to wait in long lines at one of 10 U.S. Department of State passport offices or at a federal or state court. The traveling public was not happy about the inconvenient locations of these offices or the hours’ long wait to submit an application, and they let their elected officials know. The solution allowed post offices to accept and process passport applications on behalf of the State Department. The passports were then mailed directly to the applicants.

This arrangement has proven to be a highly successful marriage of government services. With many post offices offering passport services, it has become far more convenient for citizens. Today, customers can go online to find the nearest post office with passport services and also find the number to call to make an appointment. (Most post offices require customers to make an appointment for passport service.)

The execution fee for a passport is $25. In fiscal year 2012, the U.S. Postal Service processed 5.7 million passport applications for revenue of $142 million. With the additional services it offers, such as passport photos and return postage, the Postal Service’s total revenues from passport services in 2012 was $182 million. It is a nice chunk of change for a service the Postal Service does not need to market aggressively. Still, the Postal Service has seen a significant decline in passport revenue over the past 4 years. In 2008, it earned $283 million from passport services.

The decline in passport revenue could be attributed to a few things. First, the weak economy has undoubtedly reduced international travel over the past 4 years. It could also be that 2008 was an especially strong year for passport revenue because changes taking effect in 2009 required a passport to return to the U.S. from travel to Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean. However, postal staff reduction and facility closures could also be playing a role. Customers have complained about waiting too many days or weeks for a passport appointment at their Post Office or about being directed elsewhere for service.

Why do you think passport services revenue has declined so dramatically in the past few years? Is there a way the Postal Service could improve the process? What changes could it make to maximize passport revenues?

Comments (94)

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  • anon

    I went to the USPS passport acceptance office on East Colfax and Chambers in Colorado they refused to accept my application for a passport. I already have a previous passport but I was trying to update my information. can the regional office refuse to accept my application as well?

    Sep 13, 2017
  • anon

    I actually got an appointment with no problem ...HOWEVER , when I showed up for my appointment I was informed that the clerk was not there , and that someone was supposed to have called to notify me . This has taken considerable time and effort to prepare for , and a day off work....there is no excuse for this treatment .

    Aug 04, 2017
  • anon

    Made appointment 3 weeks ago. No agent is present, postal workers seem to be in the dark. Not professional. Post office San Antonio Lockhill Selma station

    Jul 27, 2017
  • anon

    I sit here, reading all of these comments by people who are relaying many of my own problems getting a passport. I too do not understand why just the process of setting up an appointment is so complicated. Here I sit by my phone, waiting for the call. I was unable to answer their return call yesterday because I was on my way to my uncle's funeral. I am afraid to go pee without it in my hand for fear I will miss another call. I am scheduled for a trip to Mexico in 10 weeks. You would think that will be plenty of time? I sure hope so.

    Jul 18, 2017
  • anon

    Making an appointment for a passport is impossible. There are no walk-in offices where I live (around zip code 27511), you can only call. No one answers the phone when you call, you have to leave a message. It takes 2-3 business days for them to return your call. If you happen to be busy or you are not near your phone when they call, then you have to call them back, leave a message, etc. Then, when you finally get through the next appointment is weeks away. It takes almost the 6-8 weeks just to get an appointment! This is crazy! Can you not at least get an online system to make appointments? Would this not save money not having people to have to return phone calls and manually put in appointments? Would it not hurt to maybe have a few more people processing passports so if you actually need a passport in a hurry, you can get it?

    Jul 03, 2017
  • anon

    Fro last 3 days, I am trying to schedule an appointment for US passport at Post Office Located at 4370 Lawrenceville Hwy, Lilburn, GA 30047 does not answer the phone and seems phone line is busy all times or phone line is broken. You can Try it at (770) 923-3391. How Can I make the appointment? Last year I walked in for passport for an appointment but they did not entertain me. The employee were seating doing nothing and were needing me to have an appointment.

    Jul 01, 2017
  • anon

    Well, seeing as the post offices never answer the phones.....how are you supposed to make an appointment?????

    Jun 15, 2017
  • anon

    Today my adult daughter and I went to get her passport form executed at the post office at 522 n central ave phoenix as 85004. On arrival at 1500 hrs we were told they were not taking passport photos. So we left found a pharmacy and returned by 1530 hrs. Having waited not too long we were directed to a paper taped at the counter saying they were not processing passports today. While there earlier we saw one being taken. So now almost 4pm we are unable to go elsewhere and have had a frustrating and fruitless afternoon. To make it worse this is the only place in the city not requiring an appointment during hours which coincide with her work schedule. And we had tried to call prior to going only to have the call remain unanswered. Customers service and hours of opporation are why your service fails to met the customers needs and taking services away with little to no warning when customers are having to travel to avail themselves of those services leaves people little appetite to repeat an experience.

    Jun 14, 2017
  • anon

    I have been trying to get my passport for the past three weeks. I lost my previous one, so I have to go in person to an acceptance facility, i.e., the Post Office. I have been calling many times a day for the past three weeks to get an appointment, but never get an answer. I went in person to the Post Office, but was told I had to call the number (the one no one answers) to get an appointment, even though a person was working in the passport office and there was only one family in front of me. I spoke to the manager, who took my name and said he would email the passport office and they would call me to set up an appointment. That did not happen either. So think the decline in revenue is due in large part to the fact that no one can get an appointment. Overall, the service at the USPS is dismal, yet I hear about continuing decline in revenue. Customer service might be a key.

    May 09, 2017
  • anon

    I'm very disappointed in the usps. I live in Brooklyn NY and just became a US citizen on 4/28 in which we we told that we can apply for a passport at the post office and can receive by the next day. I went to the post office on 5/1 to apply for my 1st US passport. After waiting for about 4.5 hrs. I handed the very rude clerk my application form with supporting documents. She asked me when I wanted to travel? I told her on 5/4. Her response is it's not going to happen (meaning I won't get my passport for that date) j asked her what's the earliest date? She told me 3 weeks. I said, I thought there was an overnight service? She repeapeated 3 weeks. I asked her if even I expedited it? She said yes. I paid a total of $211 plus. I just found out that I could have gone to Rockerfella Centee in NYC to do my passport there and receive it the same day. I'm so disappointed that I spend so much money and that clerk could have educated me on the best way to go about it. She was unapproachable and rude. I wish there was a better way. I'm so upset. My husband wanted to take me away for a bit of R and R. I wish I can cancel it all from the post office and go directly to Rokerfella Center. I'm so pissed off. I'm calling the USPS general numbrr but can't get anyone to speak to. Shame.

    May 01, 2017
  • anon

    I applied for my 1st us passport today. We wanted to travel in the 4th. The clerk told me I cannot get my passport before 3 weeks. I asked her what if I expedited it? She told me same time. I paid $211 which is crazy. When I got my citizenship on 4/28 they told us we can get a passport by next day if we have travel plans.

    May 01, 2017
  • anon

    All your post offices need to get into the 21st century and have an online booking system for passport appointments. The local libraries have it, but are booked 5 months out for a 15 minute appointment. No one answers the phones and when they do and put you in their book, you have no proof you've made the appointment.

    Apr 24, 2017
  • anon

    Horrible passport service... I called 1-844-661-8730/972-393-6755 left voice message. No body pick up. Please fix this.

    Apr 08, 2017
  • anon

    What is going on? I'm trying to make an appointment for two months, I already bought flight tickets and the next appointment can be schedule in 3 months from now? Why?

    Mar 30, 2017
  • anon

    I've been trying to make an appointment at the local POs here in Irvine, CA for days now. No one ever picks up a phone (949-453-4918). Tried calling 5 different locations. They do not even pickup M-F during business hours. The only walk-in passport acceptance facility is only M-F. If the post office do not want the revenue from accepting passport applications, they should pass it on to someone else.

    Mar 25, 2017
  • anon

    I've been having the same problem everyone has complained of below. There several places in the Tampa area that accepts passport applications. They all have the same number for making an appointment. When I call, the message tells me I can make an appointment and gives me hours of operation at the different post offices, but there is no way to leave a message. I've called more than a dozen times in two weeks. BUT clearly USPS doesn't care or the complaints below would have fixed the problem.

    Mar 24, 2017
  • anon

    I have been calling for days during posted passport hours and also a few hours before and after and NO ONE answers the phone and no answering machine so I went to Post office in Person and they rudely told me that I needed to call for an appt. I explained that I had been trying and they just shrugged their shoulders. How do you get an appt before my passports expires in 3 months????????

    Mar 11, 2017
  • anon

    I am having the same issue as others in Las Vegas. I have called at least 5 different post office sin Las Vegas and have not been able to get through to 1 person yet. I haven't even been offered a chance to leave a message. I tried making an appointment online through the Clark County clerk's office and they have zero appointments available. The post office should really come up with an online way to book appointments and people should have access to appointments in a timely manner. DMV has found an efficient way to get people in and out. The post office should be able to do the same.

    Mar 06, 2017
  • anon

    Just left the post office/passport office in Slidell, LA. The website says they're open from 8 AM- 1 PM. At 11:45 AM, we were denied application as the clerk said they "had already accepted enough applications today and were not processing any more". She had a hand written list of 12 people on the counter in front of her, on which she was doodling. I asked why the website said hours of operation were from 8 AM-1 PM, and she repeated that they "had already accepted enough applications today and were not processing any more", then let me know I could try again tomorrow at 10 AM.

    Feb 27, 2017
  • anon

    I have called 844-661-8730 multiple times within the last few days, and each time a recording has said representatives are all currently assisting other customers. I have left my name and telephone number multiple times and recieved no call back, which was supposed to be returned "within 24 hours." This process is very inefficient and it seems nearly impossible to get ahold of a representative, especially when no one will return your call. I am very disappointed in the customer service, or lack of.

    Feb 23, 2017
  • anon

    I have been calling the 844-661-8730 since 2/13/17 and have left several messages in attempt to schedule to renew my passport with my passport card. Today, 2/22/17, I've not yet received a call back. I've even made a trip on a lunch break to the Post Office on 8501 N MacArthur Blvd, Irving, TX 75063 and they were not helpful in addition to mildly rude with me. I need to renew my passport quickly or at least receive a phone call so that I can be certain that all steps are carried out correctly. Thank you!

    Feb 22, 2017
  • anon

    I have called 1-844-661-8730 to schedule an appointment for a new passport 02/03/2017, 02/06/2017, 02/07/2017 and 02/08/2017 (Today) to no avail. I have also left messages to have my called returned but have yet to receive a call back. Is there an number or a location where I can make an

    Feb 08, 2017
  • anon

    Can't get through on appointment line.....ever. What's going on? How can a working man get a passport? It is extremely difficult. No wonder the Postal Service is near bankrupt. Awful experience. Online scheduling program please!

    Feb 06, 2017
  • anon

    Cannot get thru Las Vegas USPS appt line . Disconnects for over a week. Cannot talk to clerk about an appt at N. TENAYA. The Clark County web site will not allow any appt dates either. What is going on? This is typical Fed implementation needs to be privatised.

    Jan 18, 2017
  • anon

    Same here it's seems fruitless as I've called over 40 times today. And worse they don't put you on hold they just disconnect. But still worse is no one reads this page it looks like so I'm actually talking to wall!

    Feb 01, 2017
  • anon

    I am on my second attempt today to apply for my passport the location at 50 W Washington photo machine was down and they only accept check or money orders. So I go to the Post office at 211 S Clark there is only one person working passports and she is taking20-40 mins per person! There is another person sitting but not helping but telling folks see all those waiting that's how long you have to wait. Good ole govt help. I too am a government employee but I provide better service because that's what the citizens should get

    Jan 04, 2017
  • anon

    I was at the LAX post office. They had 2 staff members processing the applications. If adding the post office was a positive the maybe expanding to add other companies would work. I arrived at 2pm at 2 hours later was still waiting

    Dec 27, 2016
  • anon

    The in-person passport application process at the U.S. Post Office in Oak Park Illinois was possibly the most inefficient use of resources I have seen in any interaction with the public or private sector. There is no appointment process, one person does the work, so the length of the wait is highly variable, the same person who takes the application also wanders across the huge, empty post office to open a separate room to take photographs. The employee disappeared numerous times into the back of the office without explanation and also discontinued work on passports several times to deliver mail to people who had mail or packages held at the post office. You can maximize passport revenues by earning it but operating efficiently, taking appointments, at a minimum allowing the captive public to take a number or buzzer and return at a set time.

    Dec 13, 2016
  • anon

    Step 1: Require appointment for passport. Step 2: Only allow appointments to be made over the phone. Step 3: Never pick up phone. Step 4: ??? Step 5: Profit!

    Nov 08, 2016
  • anon

    Same happening to me. They refuse to answer the phone and will not return calls. When you go to the post office the door is closed in the passport office and there is no response. I wonder if they are doing this on purpose to cause damage to the incoming administration?

    Jan 19, 2017
  • anon

    Trying to get passport for 1.5 year old was not possible despite bringing the family to two post offices three times in downtown Chicago. In five calls to both post offices I was assured, despite my growing skepticism, that passports would be accepted from 10 am every day. When we got there - even after being assured an hour earlier that they would be accepting passports that day- both offices said the agent was not there and they had no idea when our what days the agent might show up. After wasting both our vacation times to go to post offices, I called each local po and told them not to tell people they accept passports when they dont. They were clueless and said they didn't know that. The desk clerks just shrugged and said they dont control that. Finally we got it accepted at the local court probate office. Despite having worked in Congress for many years and seeing the po budget cuts I'm still surprised at the incompetence. The result? Lost revenue today and in the future for the po. After this experience I'm much more inclined to use private delivery services. Dave

    Nov 05, 2016
  • anon

    In Las Vegas I tried the appointment line many times a day for a month. No one ever answered the phone. As I really needed to get a passport, I finally went to the Henderson City Clerk's office. Everything was handled quickly and efficiently. Now you know why revenue is down. Basically the Post Office in Las Vegas doesn't do passports.

    Oct 20, 2016
  • anon

    Tried for 4 hours to get a passport appointment at 3 different post offices in 3 different cities. I then tried a library a little farther out, got an appointment for tomorrow and a text and email confirmation in about 2 minutes. USPS, pull it together! If small town libraries can do this, you can too!

    Jul 27, 2016
  • anon

    You can start by making sure the employees at the post office actually know how to do their frickin* job...As in: When I call the post office to ask about what's needed and where and when to go (operating hours), someone has to actually know that information instead of sending me to a post office and when I get there, I am met with "oh, we don't do those here, but the post office at this address does.."..After going to the address indicated to me, the same thing happens...What the Heck???? And why are there only like 1% of offices that can actually process passport applications? Vancouver, WA.

    Jul 22, 2016
  • anon

    I make a appointment to process my passport 3 days before the appointment when I get to the post office in jersey city nj Nobody know about the appointment they play with people time and mind they service is horrible and them they gave you attitude for they mistake need more professional employees

    Dec 31, 2016
  • anon

    I'm writing to complain about the messy system of passport application in the Milpitas post office. We came at 8:30 to line up along with all about 40 rest of people to wait for the post office to open at 9:15 to get a line up number for passport application. After that, we were given a number 36 and told to come back at 12:15'sh. We returned in time and then waited in another line with ticket holders in various numbers. The staff was just processing #21! She then ran down the list and started calling down the numbers, so essentially this "be back at 12:15" was not valid at all and the system provided no way for people to plan around their work schedule. I don't understand why in an Internet world we cannot make appointment online and be certain a process time that we can manage with our work and life schedules. Further, there's no explanation of how the system works. We came first time at 9:30 and all numbers were given out despite the office just opened for 15 minutes. There's a big banner outside of the post office that says "walk in welcome" that is clearly an empty slogan. Compared to a fast and predictable system in Hong Kong that everything is processed in less than 30 minutes, this US passport application system is clearly inferior and not facilitating.

    Jul 07, 2016
  • anon

    Probably the best way to get revenue is to have the passport service be open when they say that will be open. I searched the website and got the hours for the passport service in my local office and noted that "no appointments were necessary". I showed up with time to spare in those hours and am greeted by a closed sign and an employee telling me that that already filled their number of appointments for the day and were done processing.

    Jun 23, 2016
  • anon

    About 3 weeks ago, I received a bubble pack that had been ripped open, and then re-closed with clear tape. A jam nut was missing. Yesterday, I received a boxed parcel, sealed with nylon strapping tape. One end had been cut open, and again, re-sealed with clear tape. All the pieces appeared to be there. I have spent the better part of two hours attempting to locate a local phone number for the Inspector General for the Las Vegas, NV, to no avail. Local numbers (702 area) no one answers, or got a recorded message. Watts numbers don't offer my question so, eventually disconnect me.

    Jun 09, 2016
  • anon

    When I call the telephone number to schedule a passport application review at the Las Vegas post office, no one answers. I called 9 times yesterday and 7 times so far today. I stopped by my local post office and they said the number is the only way and they know that no one answers. To increase revenue and increase quality of service, increase the number of appointment times and answer the phone to schedule appointments. This is a common recommendation in the comments below, going back months and months, so nothing new, just need to implement the change.

    Jun 07, 2016
  • anon

    I needed a passport for my high school aged child and thus could not go to any passport office with Monday through Friday hours. San Antonio USPS offers passport services on Saturdays, so we went. The first Saturday, we arrived an hour early, but were not able to be seen, nor were the 100 or so people behind us. The second Saturday, we arrived three hours early and we were seen, but again, approximately 150 people were sent home. More clerks and having the passport office open longer than two hours would increase USPS' revenue. Now, after all of that hassle and paying an extra fee for USPS to process my child's paperwork, I get a letter stating that the birth certificate issued by the state of Texas, is not the correct one. They need a long version. Why did the USPS clerk not notice this? Is this poor training? Or, is it a scam to cheat citizens out of more money?

    Jun 06, 2016
  • anon

    Twice I have visited the usps for passports for my children, twice I have paid their fee presumably to check the documentation is correct prior to sending and TWICE I have had delays because the information was incomplete. What exactly did I pay for? In the UK if a person visits the post office and pays to have them submit the application they are guaranteed it is correct or they get their money back. It's the very least we should expect when PAYING for a service!

    May 04, 2016
  • anon

    We were told they are not allowed by Homeland Security to help anyone with passport renewal! The worker at Fresno, CA main post office down town, one hour 10 minutes from our mountain home, said we have to do it ourselves! We had our forms filled out, and signed, old passports, new pictures, ready to send! She didn't give us a chance to say anything, we asked what the fee was, it's over there on a little sign and look at the form, very rude, I explained the fee is not on the form, she did not want to help us at all! Shame on you! Dealing with mental Giants at the post office of the United States Government! Wish I had gotten her name. Oh and it was 3:00 p.m. They said it was closed for lunch ,with between 20 people standing outside, two doors locked, one was outside,one was locked within the post office! Oh this was a terrible experience with people whom work for we the people, we pay them and you!

    Apr 27, 2016
  • anon

    At Van Nuys, Ca Passport Processing center. This is my 5th hour in line. Babies and children crying, disabled in same snaking line. 15 people ahead in que. Big "No Public Restrooms" signs. Three lowly emoyees processing passports. Feels like third world. Shame, on Post Master General. Poor infrastructure unable to support demands of traveling public.

    Apr 23, 2016
  • anon

    I wanted to apply for my US passport renewal. Post office closes at 3pm. I reached the post office 2:15pm. Employee by the name Benny, refused to accept my application and asked me to come back on Monday to apply. He said they take application until 2pm. And the time on the board says until 3pm Monday thru Friday. I would like to inquire about this post office located at Corona Main post office on Grand ave. Thank you in advance for your help.

    Apr 15, 2016
  • anon

    We came to the Marietta Post Office off Gresham Rd. There were five people in the lobby who had been waiting for over two hours when we arrived. After a customer was seen, she walked out and told us that the employee took a personal phone call during their time together. The USPS website articulates the purpose of the partnership between the State Dept and the USPS was to provide a more efficient service for passport applications as opposed to the long lines customers experienced prior to the partnership. No person should expect immediate access to a USPS employee for a passport application, but several hours of waiting, along with no communication as to progress, doesn't seem reasonable.

    Apr 15, 2016
  • anon

    How long does it typically take for someone to respond to a message left when calling the 800# (800-801-9801)? It seems as if there is never anyone available to speak to live. The message states not to leave another message if you already left one initially, but there's no way to confirm if the messages are received in the first place. I looked into different offices that are nearby, but they all have the same 800# for passport services. Can someone from the USPS please assist? Thanks in advance!

    Apr 08, 2016
  • anon

    Look for another acceptance facility that says it is a courthouse or a library. Most of these acceptance facilities do not require an appointment. Passport Acceptance Facility Search Page.

    Apr 17, 2016
  • anon

    Time slots for appointments need to be extended and have more appointments on saturdays

    Apr 04, 2016
  • anon

    I have tried making an appointment multiple times at the Jose Marti Post Office in Miami over the phone. I went to the office in person and they told me I had to call the number. How am I supposed to make an appointment if no one answers the phone call. On top of that, I cant even leave a message.

    Apr 01, 2016
  • anon

    We are experiencing the same problem as many here--have to make an appointment to submit a passport renewal for a minor child, but no live person ever answers the number listed on the USPS website. We have three post offices within a 5 min drive of our house, but we simply cannot get an response. Completely unacceptable customer service--guess we will have to wait until it is an "emergency" and go to the regional passport office.

    Mar 28, 2016

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