Having valid identifying (ID) documents is important since it allows you to travel freely, vote, or even get a job. Some of the vital forms of ID you need to have include birth certificate, Social Security card, state ID card, and a driver’s license.
If you have lost your identifying documents, it might feel like the end of the world, but you should not panic. While it may be a hassle and involve some work, it is possible to replace all your vital records and documents to protect yourself in case of a problem, restore/verify your identity, and get back to your normal life.
The first step to verifying your identity and restoring all your remaining vital records and IDs is to order a replacement birth certificate that allows you to verify your identity. You should also call 311 to find out how you can file a police report in your area. The quicker you report your documentation destroyed or missing, the less likely you will be required to pay penalties in case someone uses it to commit crimes.
Here’s how you can replace the most important forms of ID (Social Security Card & Birth Certificate)
What to Do If Your Birth Certificate is Lost
Your birth certificate is one of the most important forms of ID since it is required to get other forms of ID. Typically, you can obtain a copy of your birth certificate from the vital records office of the state in which you were born. It is important to note that getting a replacement birth certificate takes a long time i.e. anywhere between 9 and 15 weeks depending on your state.
It is worth noting that you will be required to pay a fee to get a replacement birth certificate. For instance, you will be required to pay $30 in New York while Pennsylvania requires $20 for you to get a certified copy of your birth certificate. Fee waivers may be available for members of the military, their dependent children, and their spouses.
You can obtain a certified copy of your birth certificate in some states even if you don’t have any other ID. If your state doesn’t require proof of ID, there will still be other requirements such as having your parents or legal guardians whose name appears on your birth certificate submit a notarized letter as well as a copy of their own photo ID, making a sworn statement of your identity, or submitting utility bills or a letter from the government addressed to you.
If you have married or changed your name legally, you should first request a copy of your marriage license or court order of name change. You can typically request this without having to submit photo ID at the vital records office of your state. If your parents or legal guardians are diseased or unable to submit your request for you, you should try to get your driver’s license first.
If you were born abroad or on a United States military base abroad, you need to get in touch with the Department of State for your Consular Report of Birth Abroad. You can also have your legal guardians or parents make this request on your behalf.
What Should You Do If You Lose Your Social Security Card?
If your Social Security card is stolen or lost, it is important to contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) immediately. Replacing your card will depend on whether or not you have already acquired the identifying documents required and whether or not you have memorized your Social Security Number.
You can easily request a replacement Social Security card online as long as you are a United States citizen, at least 18 years old, and have a United States mailing address. You will also need either a state ID or driver’s license depending on your state. You will also need to provide valid proof of citizenship, which the SSA says must be a hospital record of your birth, birth certificate, passport, or religious record created before your fifth birthday.
If you have these documents available, you should claim your “my Social Security account” or if you have already claimed your account, log in and request your replacement Social Security card. If you don’t have these documents available, you will have to go to your local Social Security office. You will need to bring proof of your identity with you, which includes a state ID card, driver’s license or U.S. passport.
If you don’t have these forms of ID, the Social Security Administration also accepts other forms of identification that show your legal name and biographical data. Acceptable forms of ID include a United States military ID card, health insurance card for an insurer besides Medicare, school ID card, and an employee ID card.
The proof of identity you provide should not be expired and should show your legal name, age, date of birth, and preferably include a recent photo. The identification documents listed here should be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. The SSA doesn’t accept copied documents that are notarized or photocopy IDs. Receipts that prove you applied for a legitimate form of ID won’t be accepted either.
Once your proper credentials have been established, fill out the downloadable replacement card form available on the official SSA website. Ensure that the document is dated and signed, print out the completed form, and either mail or physically deliver the document to a local Social Security office.
Once you have completed the application and your information has been verified, the SSA will mail the replacement card to your home address. You can expect the replacement card to have the same name and Social Security Number as the old card.
If you have lost your birth certificate or Social Security card, don’t wait to address the situation and apply for a new one. A lost or stolen birth certificate or Social Security card leaves you vulnerable to fraud and the sooner you get a replacement and keep it in a safe and secure place, the better it will be for you.