(WHTM) — 2023 is turning out to be the year of travel after the long pandemic pause.

But, because of that, travelers are swamping passport officers, and you could be facing a surprising delay. Evionee Wyle was applying for her first passport, wanting to do it months before she needs it.

“I’m not in a rush to go anywhere, so the time frame is fine with me,” Wyle said.

She heard that passports are taking longer to arrive this year.

“This really started about a year ago as we started to come out of COVID, but really it’s gone through the roof,” Wyle said.

Clerk of Courts Pavan Parikh said he is doing everything he can to help, but the passport office in DC is backed up.

“The State Department was saying 8 to 10 weeks for a regular, now they are saying 10 to 13 weeks,” Parikh said, which is almost four months,

With the process taking so long, some people are going online looking for expedited passports. But, beware. That can cause problems.

“There is no reason to believe it would speed up the process. And quite frankly you are putting your information out there in the hands of people that are not the government,” Parikh said.

Parikh also states that suspicious websites charge up to $100 to do what you can do for free, by simply going to the State Department’s website or a clerk’s office.

All passport websites should end in “.gov” as in government. Parikh suggests paying the passport office an extra $60, which speeds it up by a few weeks.

So, get that passport or that renewal months before you need it, ideally a year in advance, so you don’t waste your money.