(WSPA) – Passport acceptance facilities in South Carolina are reporting large numbers of applicants, more than ever before. Causing normal wait times of eight to eleven weeks to take much longer.”

The U.S. Department of State tells 7 News “As Americans are traveling internationally again the U.S. Department of State is seeing unprecedented demand for passports. During some weeks this Winter, we have received more than 500,000 applications, the highest number ever for this time of year, exceeding our official projection. We are anticipating our busiest summer travel season on record.”

In 2022, 22-million passports were issued, state leaders expect that number will rise in 2023.

 “What’s happened since Covid, people are just traveling more now,” Representative for South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District Ralph Norman said. “The Spring and Summer breaks are coming up. People’s vacations are planned. People feel they have been pinned up. I have never seen I know with our office I have never seen this kind of demand.”

Many passport offices in the Upstate said they had to shut down in order to catch up on the high demand. Some people are even afraid they won’t get their passports in time for their trip.

“When people have put money down whether in America or other Countries and you’re talking about a huge delay,” Norman said. “Then you combine that with the unreliability of flights, how many flights have been canceled for one reason or another so it’s a big problem, a big issue but the time to get started is now.”

Norman said since serving South Carolina in office since 2017 he has never seen demand like this. He urges those getting ready to travel to check their passports months in advance as he expects those high numbers of applicants to keep climbing.

“Now’s the time to do it, the weather is getting warmer,” Norman said. “I don’t see a let up to be honest with you until the end of the year, if then.”

Norman said his office and other congressional offices are willing to help expedite the process if able, for those within fourteen days of their travel date.