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 (78)

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  • 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
  • anon

    I don't want to mail off my only copy of my birth certificate. I would like to be able to take my info somewhere and get it done at that office and leave with my birth cert. In hand. Maybe they could assign a traveling passport rep to go to different post offices and actually have the power to approve or deny the application right there. With all today's on line convinces it shouldn't take weeks to get an approval. They are government and can get any info they need In a 1 hour appointment.

    Mar 12, 2016
  • anon

    In the past, I applied for a passport application at the local post office and had a passport application completed in 20 minutes including the picture. Now, you have to schedule an appointment which is several weeks away. I had to leave a message on the phone to give them my availability which I'm assuming has to be aligned with appointment schedule. There is no doubt in my mind that revenue is down because it is really inconvenient to apply for a passport at the post office. Unfortunately, the mentality of the post office is not like the mentality of any other service in our country in which productivity and volume corelate to the success of the business.

    Feb 23, 2016
  • anon

    Hi, I would just like to say that I saw nothing on you web page about scheduling an appointment for a passport. I went to the new post office in Houston heights area on 18th street and was told to go to the one on judiway. After waiting in a long line at the judiway location I was told that I would need an appointment in order to send off these documents. I went to the downtown library and it was handled in less than 5 minutes. I think that it should be known that appointments are required. It's not on website OR anywhere inside post office. My husband and I both waited in line because we had researched and knew we BOTH had to be there with a form filled out, passports, birth certificates, etc. the website listed all this to apply for our child's passport but said nothing about an appointment and the other post office apparently didn't know about this requirement either.

    Feb 17, 2016
  • anon

    The first time I ever applied for a passport (in the 1990s), I simply walked into the local Post Office, presented all forms and a pair of photos, and two checks. I was done in 5 minutes. Today, I called to "make an appointment" to get passports for my children. Acceptance hours are 8:30am to 3:30pm, Monday through Friday, and the claim is that the first available slot is 34 calendar days from now. Given that 5 minutes work, or at most 10 minutes, nets $25 in revenue, not counting postage, why in the World is the 87544 Post Master throttling business down to a low rate? I'm in the post office several times per month, and have seen *one* person apply in the last several *years*. The general bureaucratization/Sovietization of all travel in the USA (TSA "security" theater, harder to get a passport, price fixing by airlines, general state of security paranoia in the USA), including the relatively hostile attitude of the PO to passports compared with 25 years ago, means that American just don't like dealing with even more of the malign bureaucracy of travel "security".

    Feb 13, 2016
  • anon

    I applied for my passport at USPS in Mustang, OK. I walked in during the afternoon without an appointment and was helped quickly and politely. It is a shame that the same cannot be said of every post office. Thanks Mustang USPS!

    Jan 24, 2016
  • anon

    Your hours are inconvenient! You think it should take weeks to get appointments and you only do them from 9-3 or 9-noon which is when everybody else works. The staff is incredibly rude and act as if passport processing is interfering with their work. To get minor's passports I have to have the children out of school and take a day off work rather than being able to come after school, walk in, and take care of a 15 minute process. You're not customer service oriented so no one wants to use you.

    Jan 11, 2016
  • anon

    I booked and paid for a trip to Mexico. (It's also non refundable) I went in to the local post office to submit my passport application the first week of December. The clerk neglected to have me sign it (you have to sign it in front of them) and sent it in without my signature. I paid for expedited processing and overnight shipping there and back. Had to go back to the post office with a new application that was signed and overnight it, again. Now here it is a week before my trip and my passport is still being processed. I know I won't have it before we leave so I'm out 3,000 for a trip I can't go on. Not to mention the 230 I paid for the expedited service. Thanks USPS.

    Jan 03, 2016
  • anon

    I'm told I can only get an appt. over the phone. But for 3 weeks no one has answered and the voice mailbox has been full. This is for Golf Links Dr in Charlotte, NC.

    Dec 09, 2015
  • anon

    How am I supposed to renew a passport for a 5 year old in Charlotte North Carolina?? I have called the passport office appointment line every Thursday and Friday since December 16th 2015 (one appointment line serves all 7 Charlotte passport offices). No one answers the phone and the voice mail is full! I took off work and drove downtown to the Main Charlotte post office and passport station today. Two workers were there. No one was waiting to place a passport application. Nonetheless, they would not do my son's renewal without an appointment. I asked them where I could walk in to make an appointment, they told me they did not know. I asked them to call the line to see if they could get an answer, but they got the same thing that I have been getting every Thursday and Friday for 6 weeks, a long voice mail message followed by a message that the mailbox is full and no voice mail can be left to schedule an appointment!!!! Do I have to drive my son to Atlanta or DC to get a passport?????? This is ridiculous!!

    Jan 28, 2016
  • anon

    I showed up to an empty post office to submit a passport application for my daughter (photo, birth cert, etc all in hand). I was told that I had to make an appointment but I couldn't make an appointment until after the holiday season. There is no other way for someone under 16 to submit a passport application other than going to an Passport Acceptance Facility (i.e. post office). So for the next 6 weeks I can't submit a passport for a minor... pathetic

    Nov 18, 2015
  • anon

    I had a recent very unpleasant experience with the post office for a passport application for my minor child. The post office in question (Encino Park, San Antonio, TX) has a phone number that you can call to get a passport appointment. The phone number is listed on the USPS.com site. The problem is that no one ever picks up the phone. As in never. I tried calling multiple times during the day during their published times (10 AM to 2 PM) and the phone just rings and rings. No one bothers to pick it up. I had to go the post office and stand in the line for close to 30 minutes to get an appointment that really should have been done over the phone. If the appointments are done over the phone as the regulations say, it would have saved me time as well as helped the post office in reducing the crowd at their location. Then, during the appointment, they insisted that I had to send in my child's previous passport even though we had her original birth certificate (which proves her US citizenship as well as parental data). We tried to "educate" the person by showing a printout from the State dept website, but to no avail. It seems they make their own rules as they go along. So, laziness, attitude and a disregard of rules seems to be very prevalent when it comes to passport applications at the post offices. Thank you.

    Aug 29, 2015
  • anon

    We had really frustrating experience with USPS, Redmond, WA today. As per the website (iafdb.travel.state) opening time was mentioned 8:00AM. Hours of Passport Acceptance Open Lunch Start Lunch End Closed MONDAY 8:00:0 12:00:0 13:00:0 15:00:0 However, when we reached there, we were told that passport office starts at 9:00AM. We went home and came back at 9:00 and started waiting for office to open. We contacted USPS staff around 9:10AM and they told that they are paging the appropriate person. Another family was also waiting along with us since 9:00AM. We contacted office again at 9:25AM and they told that they are paging the supervisor then. At 9:30, someone came and told us that the passport office will be closed today. Later we went to city court and finished application within 20 minutes. Now, I realized, I should have never gone to USPS. I see similar complaints from lot of people online. I could have saved more than 2 hours, if I would have gone to other center first rather than USPS.

    Jul 13, 2015
  • anon

    Two days trying to make an apointment for a passport with out any luck. What is going on with this service? ÷_=_=&=£×%$%%!!!

    Jun 19, 2015
  • anon

    Here is why there is such a huge decline in revenue from dealing with the post office for passports. I went to my local passport office at the post office to apply for my passport. The problem I ran into was the State Department said that my letter photo was not regulation size. This was after asking the lady at the post office twice if it was okay. It should have never been sent if the size was not correct. After resending the photo through express mail it was lost by the State Department. I called and they said that they had not idea where it was. This is after telling them who signed for it. While trying to inquire about the status I was directed to the web site which did not work. This was after hearing several messages from the State Department message on the phone about how you should use the web site to save time. The whole system is broken. We as tax paying citizens need to privatize the whole operation of how we procure and apply for passports. I asked who I could speak to about this and I was told know one.

    Jun 09, 2015
  • anon

    When I called to make a passport application appointment for my 17 year old daughter, I was told the soonest appointment available at a location that was open past 3:00 p.m. with photo services would be 3 weeks away. The gentleman on the phone was very polite and informative, listing the various documents I must bring copies of and confirming that I indeed did need a passport photo taken of my daughter. Well, we arrived at the Windmill Lakes Post Office for her 3:45 appointment today only to be told that the lady who takes the photo was not present and "besides, we don't have any film for the camera." I was also told at the post office that I needed to provide a photocopy of MY driver's license since my daughter was not yet 18. However, I was not told that this was necessary on the phone when the appointment was schedule. Also, on the US Dept. of State website, it is noted that for 17 year olds, " Children ages 16-17 with their own identification can apply for a passport by themselves. However, it is recommended that at least one parent appear in person with the child to identify him/her and to show parental awareness. Examples of Parental Awareness: Having a parent accompany the child when applying" So being that I was present, I do not understand why the postal worker insisted I provide a copy of my ID as well. Needless to say, I am VERY upset! After waiting 3 weeks for the appointment and taking off work to accompany my daughter to the appointment, we walked away with no passport application submitted ~ because there was no film in the camera and the photographer was not on duty.

    May 19, 2015
  • anon

    I realize this is an old post but I came up on it while googling how in the world do I get an appointment to for passport renewal at the post office. I feel like this must be a joke. Do you really not know why people do not want to use the post office. I am currently on the phone for over 20 minutes waiting to speak to someone on the phone just to make an appointment, literally months in advance. This has to be the most inanely inefficient system ever. I would gladly pay double to have this taken care of efficiently and quickly but I can't go to a passport expediter because it's for a minor.

    Apr 14, 2015

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