Replace Your Vital Records

Find out how to replace vital documents, such as birth certificates, Social Security cards, and more.

Replace Lost or Stolen Identification (ID) Cards

State-issued Identification

If your driver's license or state-issued identification (ID) card was recently lost or stolen, contact your state motor vehicle agency.

When requesting a state ID, you may need to provide other forms of ID that contain your photo, full name, and date of birth. Contact your state motor vehicle agency to find out what you need to bring with you to prove your identity.

Social Security Cards

If your Social Security card was lost or stolen, contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) to request a replacement card.

Medicare ID Cards

The SSA can also help you replace a lost or stolen Medicare card.

Medicaid ID Cards

To replace a lost or stolen Medicaid card, please contact your state Medicaid office.

U.S. Passports

If your passport was lost or stolen, you should report it to the Lost/Stolen Passport Section of the Passport Services Office at the U.S. Department of State (DOS). Reporting a passport as lost or stolen invalidates it. The DOS strongly recommends that you apply for a new passport at the time you report the loss or theft.

You may also wish to view information about passports lost or stolen abroad.

Permanent Resident (Green) Cards

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can help you replace a lost or stolen permanent resident (green) card.

Federal Employee ID Cards (Smart Cards)

The government agency that you work for can help you replace your Smart Card.

U.S. Military ID Cards

If you are a member of the military and your military ID card was lost or stolen, report it to your base Physical Security Officer, or go through your chain of command. To replace your military ID card, you should go to your nearest RAPIDS site. If you find a military ID card, please return it to the nearest military installation.

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Vital Records Documents Issued in the United States

Vital record documents consist of birth, death, marriage, and divorce certificates. State government vital records offices issue these documents. To get a copy of a vital record document, contact the vital records office in the state where the event occurred.

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Get a Copy of Your Birth Certificate

Your birth certificate is the most important document you'll need to prove your legal identity and age. You'll need it to apply for a passport or government benefits, enroll in school, join the military, or claim pension or insurance benefits. If need a copy, where you were born will determine how to get it.

If You Were Born in the U.S.

For a certified copy of your birth certificate, contact the vital records office in the state where you were born for instructions on how to request a copy and information on any fees.

If you need to get a copy of your birth certificate quickly, ask the vital records office at the time you place your order about getting expedited service or shipping.

If You Were Born Abroad, or on a Military Base Abroad

If you were born to American parents abroad, they should have registered your birth with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in that country, and received a Consular Report of Birth Abroad. You can get a copy of this report from the U.S. Department of State (DOS). Depending on the country, a vital records office in the nation may also list the birth.

If you were born on a military base abroad, and your parents did not register your birth with the U.S. Embassy, you may have to contact the hospital where the birth took place. You may also try contacting the base operator or public affairs office for the appropriate military branch.

If You Were Born Abroad and Adopted by a U.S. Citizen

The country in which you were born issued your birth certificate. If you need a replacement, you must contact the nearest foreign embassy or consulate for that country. A child born in a foreign country and adopted by a U.S. citizen will not receive a U.S. birth certificate. If the document is in a language other than English, you should also seek the embassy's help in getting the document translated if you require authenticated documents.

If you need to replace naturalization/citizenship documents for a child who was adopted from a foreign country by a U.S. citizen, you will need to fill out an application for replacement of naturalization/citizenship form or contact the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) for further help.

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Request a Replacement Marriage Certificate

If you need to replace your marriage certificate or get a replacement for a family member or friend, the Where to Write for Vital Records section of the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides guidelines for applying for a replacement. 

The guidelines vary from state to state but are provided for all 50 states, the major territories (American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands), Canal Zone, and foreign or high-seas events. There are also different guidelines for New York state and New York City. 

Even though the guidelines vary depending on the area, all applications require:

  • Full name of the bride and groom 
  • Month, day, and year of the marriage
  • Place of marriage (city or town, county, and state) 
  • Purpose for which copy of marriage certificate is needed
  • Relationship to persons whose marriage certificate is being requested 
  • Day time telephone number (include area code) 

When applying for a replacement marriage certificate a small application fee may be required. 

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Divorce Decrees and Certificates

A divorce decree is an official document from the court that grants the termination of a marriage. It includes specific details of the divorce.

A divorce certificate is issued by a state vital records office. It shows that a divorce occurred but does not state all of the same information as a divorce decree. You can save time and money by determining which document you need before making your request.

U.S. Divorces

Get a Copy of a Divorce Decree

Contact the "county clerk's office" or "clerk of the court" for the county or city in which the divorce was granted.

Get a Copy of a Divorce Certificate

Contact the state vital records office in which the divorce was granted.

Overseas Divorces

If the divorce occurred outside the U.S. and you are in the U.S., contact the appropriate country's embassy or nearest consulate to find out how to get a copy of the divorce decree.

United States law does not require U.S. citizens to register a foreign divorce decree at an embassy. But if the foreign country in which your divorce took place is a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Authentication of Documents, you may bring your divorce decree to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate to have it certified.

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Get, Replace, or Correct a Social Security Card

What’s a Social Security Card?

Your Social Security card is an important piece of identification that you'll need to get a job and collect Social Security and other government benefits.

When you apply for a Social Security number (SSN), the Social Security Administration (SSA) will assign you a nine-digit number, which is the same number printed on the Social Security card that the SSA will issue you. If you change your name, you will need to get a corrected card.

How to Get a Social Security Card

  1. Gather your documents -- Learn what documents you'll need to get an original, replacement,or corrected Social Security card, whether it's for a child or adult, U.S. citizen or noncitizen.

  2. Complete your application -- Read the instructions for and fill out an application (PDF, Download Adobe Reader) for a new, replacement, or corrected card.

  3. Mail your application -- You can’t apply for a Social Security card online. Print your application and find out where to take it in person or mail it.

Getting a Social Security Number for a New Baby

When to get a Social Security Number for Your Child

The easiest way to get a Social Security number for your child is at the hospital after they’re born and when you give information for your child’s birth certificate.

If you wait to apply for a number at a Social Security office, there may be delays while the SSA verifies your child’s birth certificate. Processing times average about two weeks. See the SSA’s frequently asked questions section for an estimate for your state. Learn more with the Social Security Numbers for Children publication (PDF, Download Adobe Reader).

If you want to claim your child as a dependent on your income tax return, open a bank account in their name, get medical coverage for them, or apply for government services for them, they will need their own Social Security number.

Apply for a Replacement Social Security Card Online

A new feature on the SSA website allows you to apply for a replacement Social Security card online via your my Social Security account.

To apply for a replacement card online, you must: 

  • Be a U.S. citizen age 18 or older with a U.S. mailing address (this includes APO, FPO and DPO addresses)
  • Not be requesting a name change or any other change to your card
  • Have a valid driver's license or a state-issued identification card from one of the following: 
    • Arizona (driver's license only)
    • District of Columbia (driver's license only) 
    • Idaho (driver's license only) 
    • Iowa
    • Kentucky
    • Maryland 
    • Michigan
    • Mississippi
    • Nebraska
    • New Mexico
    • North Dakota (driver's license only) 
    • Pennsylvania 
    • South Dakota 
    • Washington 
    • Wisconsin (driver's license only) 

Follow these instructions if you want to change or correct your social security card.

Prevent Identify Theft

Keep your Social Security card in a safe place to protect yourself from identity theft if it's lost or stolen. You are limited to three replacement cards in a year and 10 during your lifetime.

Contact the SSA

For more information, contact the SSA. If you live outside the U.S., the SSA's Office of International Operations (OIO) may be able to help you.

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