Research Outline

Passport and Visa Market


Evaluate a new market by providing information on 1) how many passports & visas are issued each year globally and its forecasted size in 2025; 2) how many passport & visa photos are printed at Walgreens, UPS, Fedex, and CVS in the US each year, 3) the total serviceable market in the US of passport and visa photos printed in-store at retailers and its forecasted size in 2025, and 4) the global market size of countries that allow passport & visa photos printed at home or with a digital camera.

Early Findings

  • The average growth rate for US passports over the past ten years is 4.25%, with 20,690,491 issued in 2019. Basing on this data, there should be 26,559,945 in 2025 (4.25% growth rate applied for every year until 2025). Note however that this does not take into account any pandemic effect.
  • Visas for US travelers (meaning must be applied for ahead of time, not on arrival) are required for 41 countries. These are Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, North Korea, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Vietnam, Russian Federation, Algeria, Angola, Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Congo (Dem. Rep.), Congo (Rep.), Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Djibouti, Eritrea, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan, Oceania, Nauru, Cuba, Suriname, Venezuela, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Oman, Syria, Turkey, and Yemen.
  • However, with the pandemic, travel restrictions are in place, meaning citizens from the US now have a much weaker passport (at the same level as Mexico in 25th place, at 159 countries- down from 7th place previously). Aside from the usual consumer-led fears about travel, these travel restrictions are likely to significantly affect the market for passport and visa photos.
  • Globally, there were 1.4b international tourist arrivals in 2018, which is a 6% increase from the previous year. However, this number may not necessarily reflect the number of passports and visas since some people may travel repeatedly, while others may not require a visa to travel.
  • The average passport holder can travel internationally to 107 destinations worldwide visa-free or with visa-on-arrival. Asian citizens have the most powerful passports- Japan leads with 191 countries to travel to visa-free, followed by Singapore (190) and South Korea and Germany tie at 189.
  • According to a study done by Mastercard, the countries with the citizens that travel the most are the US, Mainland China, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Republic of Korea, Japan, Canada, the Russian Federation, and Taiwan.
  • According to their latest financial report, retail for Walgreens US was 26% of their revenue in 2019; however, there is no breakdown beyond that available so the team cannot triangulate revenue from passport or visa photos alone.
  • Walgreens holds a huge section of the retail photo printing industry. It, along with Shutterfly, took up 50% of the US market's revenue in 2016 and Walgreens holds a big lead in terms of photo printing order numbers. It is the only retailer in the US to have a double-digit share of total revenue.
  • UPS does not reveal any data on their photo printing revenue on their financial statements.
  • Fedex made $69,217m in revenue in 2019, but does not break down the number into photo or passport contribution. They have 2,000 stores across the US.
  • CVS made $256,776m in 2019, representing a 32% growth in revenue. Around 70% of the U.S. population lives within 3 miles of a branch. There are around 9,900 branches that offer retail services for CVS in the US and retail makes up 23.3% of CVS' revenue (as opposed to pharmacy sales); however, there is no available breakdown to see how much of that revenue is due to visa or passport photo printing.
  • In general, tech advancements have made it possible to print photos online for almost all passports, especially for American citizens- either with separate equipment or with a partner like
  • However, there still seems to be strong demand for photo printing. 77% of US Millennials have printed photos in the past 12 months, with only half doing so at home vs. going to a third party.
  • Early research has shown that there is no publicly available data breaking down passport or visa photo size. However, a paywalled source on the photo printing market includes a market segmentation including by retail, instant kiosk, online stores and over-the-counter, with a forecast up to 2023, which may be useful. It can be found here.
  • General findings show that while it's possible to forecast the global demand for US passports, although this does not yet take into account any effect of the pandemic. It may be possible to triangulate the possible impact (by seeing how large a drop there has been in demand for travel, or by taking into account the number of consumers who say they are not planning to travel soon) but this will be short-term, and depends on how the pandemic progresses. The team has also found that there is no available data on the revenue or number of passport/visa photos printed by the retailers in question, and therefore no way to accurately forecast size. Given the number of countries, the team was also unable to check which countries accepted self-printed photos but research has shown that several online services already exist to ensure this is possible.