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Chapter 2 Our Customers

Military Mail

The Department of Defense is a key customer of the Postal Service’s international distribution and transportation services. International mail is mail matter delivered to APOs (Army and Air Force Post Offices) and FPOs (Navy and Marine Corp Post Offices) not within the United States. APO/FPO military mail service is an extension of the domestic mail service and includes all mail addressed to or mailed from a military unit located outside the continental U.S. or between two military units overseas. The Postal Service is proud to support American troops abroad and providing our service men and women with good service will continue to be a high priority for international operations.


Mail entering the United States from abroad arrives first at the U.S. Postal Service. The Postal Service then sends packages to U.S. Customs for examination and to assess duty if any is owed. Customs processing is required for civilian parcels as well as for those sent from overseas military postal facilities (APO/FPO). The Postal Service is working closely with the Universal Postal Union, U.S. Customs Border Patrol, and the International Post Corporation to streamline and improve these processes. The Postal Service is supporting the introduction of advance manifesting requirements for mail shipments to improve security, deter against criminal wrongdoing conducted through the mail, facilitate trade, and enhance the efficiency and speed of clearance operations.


Production costs for all stamps in 2007, including those needed for the May 14 price increase, totaled $90 million. Of the over 42 billion stamps produced, 8.2 percent were commemoratives.

Stamp Fulfillment Services processes stamp and philatelic orders received primarily by telephone and through the Internet. Since 2002 orders have grown from 1.2 million to 4.3 million per year, with annual sales surpassing $437 million.

On April 12 the Forever Stamp went on sale for 41 cents — the new price for a First-Class Mail single-piece 1-ounce letter. This stamp offers convenience to consumers by reducing their need to buy new postage or “make-up” stamps (1-cent and 2-cent stamps) when postage prices change. The value of the stamp — featuring the Liberty Bell image and the word “forever” — will always be the current price in effect for a First-Class Mail 1-ounce letter. When prices change, the Forever Stamp will sell at the new 1-ounce, single-piece First-Class Mail price. The initial printing produced 5.2 billion stamps, which were available at all Post Offices, Automated Postal Centers, contract postal units, and by phone, and online at usps.com.

USA First Class Forever Stamp -Liberty Bell

Stamps honoring 15 characters from Star Wars — the biggest grossing film series in history — went on sale May 25. The first-day-of-issue ceremony took place in Los Angeles during Star Wars Celebration IV, followed by many local events throughout the country. Publicity for the stamps began in March, when 400 R2-D2 wrapped collection boxes appeared on street corners across America and at military bases here and abroad. Overall, more than 30 million panes of Star Wars stamps were printed for fans and collectors. The full Star Wars stamp collection will remain on sale until May 25, 2008, while the Yoda stamp is available through October 25, 2008, continuing one of the most notable collaborations in Postal Service history.

Other popular stamps in 2007 included Marvel Comics, the art of Disney, Ella Fitzgerald, Settlement of Jamestown, Jimmy Stewart, Mendez v. Westminster, President Gerald Ford, Vintage Mahogany Speedboats, Lighthouses, Louis Comfort Tiffany, and Jury Duty.

Ideas for many of these stamps came from the American public. Each year 50,000 stamp ideas are submitted. To narrow the selection of stamp subjects issued, the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee — a cross section of designers, historians, and educators — reviews the suggestions and makes recommendations to the Postmaster General for final approval. The time between submitting a stamp idea and issuing the stamp can take several years. Additional information can be found at: usps.com/communications/organization/csac.htm.

In addition to using stamps to commemorate people, events, and places, the Postal Service also issues stamps to fund causes as mandated by Congress. The Postal Service currently has one 55-cent fundraising or semipostal stamp available for purchase: the Breast Cancer Research stamp. Since its release in 1998, this stamp has raised more than $57 million for breast cancer research. The price of a semipostal pays for the First-Class Mail single-piece postage price in effect at the time of purchase, plus an amount to fund the cause. By law, 70 percent of the net amount raised is given to the National Institutes of Health and 30 percent is given to the Medical Research Program at the Department of Defense.

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