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 must report the loss or theft immediately. Find out how to report a lost or stolen passport and get a replacement.

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

Learn how to report a lost or stolen military ID card and how to get a replacement.

Back to Top

Vital Records Documents Issued in the United States

Vital records 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.

Back to Top

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 you 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. 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 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for further help.

Back to Top

Request a Replacement Marriage Certificate

Marriage Licenses and Marriage Certificates

A marriage license is the piece of paper that authorizes you to get married. A marriage certificate is the document that proves you are married. Typically, the person who performs your wedding ceremony submits the license to the county office within a few days of the ceremony. Your marriage certificate is then issued and sent to you, usually within a month.

Obtaining a New or Duplicate Marriage License

Most marriage licenses expire within 30 days to a year, depending on the issuing state. If your license expires before you get married, you can apply for a new one. If your license is lost or destroyed after the wedding, before being submitted to the county, the person who officiated should contact the office that issued your license to obtain a duplicate.

Obtaining a Copy of Your Marriage Certificate

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

Even though the guidelines vary by state, all requests should include:

  • Full names of both spouses at time of marriage
  • 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
  • Daytime telephone number (include area code)

Back to Top

Request a Certified Copy of a Death Certificate

You may need to provide a copy of the death certificate of a spouse or other family member for a variety of legal reasons. These can include claiming life insurance, applying for a spouse’s pension and/or Social Security benefits; applying for Medicaid benefits; changing joint bank and credit card accounts, utilities, mortgages, vehicle titles, and leases; and remarrying. Check to see which require a certified copy of the death certificate and which require just a photocopy.

If the Death Occurred in the U.S.

You can request a certified copy of a death certificate from the vital records office of the state or territory in which the death occurred. See the instructions for that state or territory for details such as fees, address to write to, and the requestor’s required identification.

In addition to your state’s requirements, all requests should contain:

  1. Full name of the person whose death certificate is being requested
  2. Their sex
  3. Their parents' names, including maiden name of their mother
  4. Month, day, and year of their death
  5. Place of death (city or town, county, and state; and name of hospital, if known/applicable)
  6. Purpose for which the copy is needed
  7. Your relationship to the person whose record is being requested
  8. Your daytime telephone number with area code

 

If the Death Occurred Outside the U.S.

You will need to obtain a copy of the Consular Report of Death of a U.S. Citizen Abroad for U.S. legal proceedings. See Death of an American Abroad for details on obtaining a copy of this report.

Back to Top

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.

Back to Top

Last Updated: March 08, 2017

Do you need help?

Ask us any question about the U.S. government for free. We'll get you the answer or tell you where to find it.

What you think matters!