Applying for and renewing a passport takes time, and when you wait until the last minute — or forget completely — things can get complicated.

Peak season for passport applications runs from January to August, according to a Department of State official, and normal processing times are now six to eight weeks. (Prior to May 31, processing a passport application took four to six weeks, the Washington Post reported.)

In 2017 and 2018, a record number — over 21 million passports and passport cards — were issued each year, while the number of passport specialists employed by the government has dropped by 14 percent since January 2017, the Washington Postreported.

In 2019, the Department of State anticipates it will receive a total of 18.6 million passport applications.

“To address high passport workload levels this summer, the Department is leveraging all available resources to ensure processing times do not rise further and that they return to lower levels by September,” a Department of State official said.

Travelers who are planning on applying for or renewing their passports this summer should plan on allowing the State Department eight weeks to process their paperwork. Those who are tight on time can pay an additional $60 for expedited processing and get their passport in two to three weeks. For an even faster turnaround, a visit to a passport agency or center is required.

And if you haven't recently done so, be sure to check the expiration date on your passport. Your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond your travel dates, or you could be denied entry at your destination.