Replace Important Public and Vital Records and other Personal Documents



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Where to Replace Important Public and Vital Records Documents

After disasters such as floods, hurricanes, or fire, important papers may become lost, damaged or destroyed.  Sometimes theft or other circumstances can play a part in the disappearance of important paperwork, and can leave us confused as to where to go next.  Information may be misleading or forms confusing, especially for someone who doesn’t fully understand the procedure or who doesn’t speak fluent English.  Read on for some important tips and information on where to apply for replacements of those important papers, both for people born in the United States, as well as those born elsewhere.

Driver’s License or State Identification Card

In today’s modern society, this is perhaps one of the most vital pieces of identification that you can keep on your person.  Many offices, such as the Social Security office, will not issue replacement documents without some form of government-issued picture I.D.  If, somehow, your license or state I.D. has become lost, damaged, or stolen, it is important that you apply for a replacement, in person, at your local Office of Motor Vehicle Driver’s License Office or Secretary of State Office immediately.  There, you will need to fill out an “Application for License or Identification Card” form, which may also be accessed online, along with further information at the following addresses:

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Social Security Card

Your social security card is also considered another vital piece of information and identification.  It is usually used as a method of verifying who you are (along with picture I.D.) when you go to apply for a job, open a bank account, etc.  It is good practice, however, not to carry your social security card on you, unless you know that you will be needing to produce it.  In the meantime, it should be kept somewhere like a safe or a fire-proof box in your home. 

If you have lost, damaged or had your social security card stolen, information on how to obtain a replacement may be found on the internet at  or you can listen to the recorded phone message by calling (800) 772-1212; TTY (800) 325-0778 and ask for the publication “Your Social Security Number and Card.”

Certificate of Naturalization

This document is essential for anyone who was born in another country and has been granted citizenship within the United States.  Used as a form of picture identification, as well as being needed in order to prove one’s status, get assistance from governmental agencies, etc., lost naturalization papers can be devastating.  In order to receive a new certificate, you will have to obtain Form N-565 from  and complete it according to the directions on the form.  When you submit this application, you will also have to enclose a fee of $220.00 for the replacement certificate, as well as two passport-styled photos. 

Not sure what kind of photographs to get?  This brief explanation is sure to point you in the right direction:

Due to security reasons, please expect it to take up to a year’s time before your request for replacement naturalization paperwork can be processed.  When you are requested to come in for an interview, ensure that you have a government-issued form of picture identification and your social security card.  This will help make things much, much easier.

Birth and Death Certificates, Marriage Certificates, Marriage Dissolutions, Adoption Decrees

What a mouthful!  Fortunately, all of these important documents can usually be retrieved by contacting your local County Clerk’s office or by going to .  Used to access various governmental programs, in order to marry and/or remarry, to apply for a driver’s license or state I.D., et cetera, these certificates are usually easy to obtain, provided that you pay a small fee end produce proper identification that grants you the right to have access to these documents.

If you are in need of birth records for a U.S. citizen that was born abroad, you should request Form FS-249 (which is the Consular Report of Birth Abroad), by contacting:

U.S. Department of State
Passport Services
Vital Records Section
1111 19th Street, NW, Suite 510
Washington D.C. 20522-1705

This address may also be used to report of the death of an American citizen who died abroad as well.

Credit Cards

While not a form of identification, finding yours have been lost or stolen can be nerve-wracking.  If you have lost your cards or fear that someone might have stolen them, you should contact the issuing  financial institution for lost/stolen Visa or MasterCard, and can call (800) 992 - 3404 for American Express, or (800) - DISCOVER.  This should be done as soon as you notice your cards are missing, to avoid risks of charges on your cards and possible identity theft.

Losing important documents can be devastating and confusing but, with these easy numbers and websites, you are sure to get everything replaced and working the way it should in no time.  Best of luck to you!

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