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Passports key to USPS business

Florence, SC, General Clerk Renee Graham helps a customer complete a passport application this spring.

Millions of Americans are vacationing around the world this summer — and more than a few of those trips were made possible by the Postal Service.

USPS accepts millions of passport applications each year, making passports an important part of the organization’s efforts to grow revenue.

Post Offices accepted more than 6.8 million passport applications during fiscal 2018 (Oct. 1, 2017-Sept. 30, 2018), generating $204.6 million in revenue. This is up from 6.5 million passport applications that generated $164.9 million in revenue one year earlier.

The increase is driven by a spike in travel, the result of rising incomes and fierce competition in the travel industry that is making international trips more affordable. According to federal data, 93 million Americans traveled outside the United States last year, up 46 percent from a decade earlier.

“Our customers know they can rely on us for prompt, efficient passport services. It’s a job we take seriously,” said Kevin McAdams, the Postal Service’s delivery and retail operations vice president.

To remain competitive in the passports business, USPS is focused on offering affordable rates and convenient services.

For example, first-time applicants pay between $65 and $175 for most passport services with USPS, while other providers charge as much as $494 for comparable services.

To further serve passport customers, the Postal Service has introduced the Retail Customer Appointment Scheduler, a tool that allows travelers to go online to schedule first-time passport application appointments at participating Post Offices.

Additionally, Post Offices across the nation organize weekend passport fairs each year to serve customers who are unable to schedule appointments during regular work hours.

The fairs allow USPS to build customer loyalty, according to Florence, SC, Postmaster Letha Anderson, whose office hosted a fair this spring.

“I often hear my employees express how much they enjoy meeting the families who attend the fairs,” Anderson said. “Customers are excited to talk to us about their travel plans, and we are just as excited to hear about their plans.”

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