Passports need to be renewed every 10 years, so if it's been some time since you have used yours, check the expiration date. The process for passport renewal is much simpler now than in the past -- a long wait at the post office is not required. A valid passport is required to return to the U.S. from all other countries, including Mexico and Canada, so it makes sense to keep your passport updated so you can be ready to travel any time the opportunity arises.
Find your old passport. You must return your old book with your renewal application. If you are afraid to part with your old passport for sentimental reasons, don't worry. Your old book is returned with your new one via mail.
Have a new passport photo taken. You will need two copies of a passport photo to send with your application. Passport photos are available at many locations and usually cost less than £6. If you are a member of AAA, most offices provide passport photo service, and if not, even drugstore chains like CVS offer passport photo services.
Go to the U.S. State Department website and download the passport renewal application. Fill it out entirely and decide if you just want a passport book or both a book and a passport card. The card is valuable if you travel to Canada, Mexico or the Bahamas, as you can take that instead of the whole book into those countries. Once you decide, the form will tell you the fee required to purchase the items you want.
Write a check or purchase a money order for the proper amount. If you write a personal check, the check has to have the name of the passport applicant on it, as well as the correct address information. If your name is not on the current account, a money order might be a safer option. As of 2010, the passport renewal fee is £48 for just a passport booklet or £61 if you want a booklet and the passport ID card. There is an additional fee for expediting your passport request, so if you need it fast, it will cost you extra.
Get it ready for the mail. In a manila envelope, put your old passport, your filled-out application, your check or money order and your passport photos. Each passport must have its own envelope, so if you are renewing passports for your whole family, you will need a separate envelope for each person in your family. The proper address for mailing is on the renewal application.
Don't send it out in regular mail. Pay the extra couple of dollars to send it express or certified mail so the package can be tracked. Plan ahead. Passport renewals can take four to six weeks, so send your application in with plenty of time.