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How to Replace Five Common Vital Records

Copies of vital records, like birth and marriage certificates and military service records are often necessary in order to access a variety of government benefits and services.

But sometimes life happens and those vital records go missing. Maybe they were misplaced in a move, were stolen or got damaged in a fire.

We can help you find copies and replacements of your vital records so you can apply for whatever benefits and services you need.

Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates

These records come from the states. In order to find a copy, you’ll have to contact that state office where the life event occurred. Find the contact information for state and territory offices that can help you.

Passport

Report lost or stolen passports to the State Department right away by calling 1-877-487-2778. To replace the lost or stolen passport, you’ll have to submit forms DS-11 and DS-64 in person at a passport agency or acceptance facility. If you lose a passport, and then find it again, you won’t be able to use it to travel. You should return the lost passport and request a new one.

Military Service Records

You often need copies of military service records to apply for a variety of government programs available for veterans, like health care, retirement or education benefits. The National Archives keeps copies of all veterans’ services records, and you can apply online to receive a copy of yours or an immediate family member’s if they are deceased. If you prefer to mail or fax a request for your records, you can download form SF-180. You can also find out how to replace lost military medals and awards.

Social Security Card

If you can’t find your Social Security card, you may not actually need to replace it. As long as you know your Social Security number, you will still be able to collect Social Security, get a job and apply for many government benefits and services. However, if you do want to replace the card, you’ll need to gather documents proving your identity and citizenship to mail or take to a local Social Security office.

Green Card

If you have a U.S. Permanent Resident (Green) Card, you may need to replace it if it was lost, stolen or damaged or if your name or other biographical information has legally changed since it was issued. You can easily request a new one online. If you’re outside the United States and have lost your green card, you should contact the nearest U.S. consulate or immigrations office before you apply online for a new card.

If you need help getting copies of other vital records like tax returns or school records, you can find the information you need to replace them.