- How to replace lost or stolen ID cards
- Vital Records issued in the United States
- Get a copy of your birth certificate
- How to Obtain a Copy of a Marriage Certificate or Marriage Certificate
- How to get a certified copy of a death certificate
- divorce decrees and deeds
- How to find adoption records
Rules for replacing government-issued ID cards vary. Many require you to provide an official document such as your birth certificate. This proves your identity or citizenship.
Replace a driver's license or state ID card
Contact herState Motor Vehicle Agencyfor a replacement license or state ID card.
Replace a social security card
Visit the Social Security Administration websiteReplace your card online, by mail or in person.
Replace a Medicare card
Request a replacement onlinewith your my Social Security account. Or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227 TTY 1-877-486-2048).
Replace a Medicaid card
Contact your state Medicaid officeto get a replacement.
Replace a US passport
Replace a Permanent Resident (Green) Card
Apply through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration ServicesReplace your green card.
Replace a federal employee or contractor ID card
Notify your manager, your agency security office, and the IT service desk if your federal employee or contractor ID card is lost or stolen.
Replace a military ID
Report the missing card to your security officer. thenFind an ID card office and make an appointment.
Civil status records consist of birth, death, marriage and divorce certificates. state governmentregistry officesissue these documents. To obtain a copy of a civil status record, contact the registry office in the state where the event occurred.
As a US citizen, your birth certificate may be your most important document. It proves your identity and your age. You need it for:
Apply for a passport or government benefits
Register at school
Join the military
Claim pension or insurance benefits
If you require a copy, your place of birth will determine how you obtain it.
Copies of Birth Certificate: Born in the USA
Contact the registry officein the state or territory where you were born to obtain a copy of your birth certificate. Follow the prompts to request copies and pay any fees. If you need a copy quickly, ask for express service or shipping when you place your order.
Copies of Birth Certificate: Foreign-born Americans
If you were born abroad to American parents, they should have registered your birth with the countryUS Embassy or Consulate. If so, they would have received a Consular Birth Record (CRBA). You canreceive a copy of this reportfrom the US Department of State. Depending on the country, a country's civil registry office may also list the birth.
What if the State Department can't locate your CRBA? If you are on amilitary baseabroad, your parents may not have registered your birth with the US Embassy. In this case, you may need to contact the hospital where you were born.
Copies of Birth Certificate: Foreign-born and adopted by US parents
If you were born abroad and adopted by a US citizen, you would not have received a US birth certificate. The country where you were born would have issued one. To get a copy,Contact the nearest foreign embassy or consulatefor this country. If you need a certified copy and it is not in English, ask the embassy for help to have it translated.
If you have been adopted by a US citizen from another country, you should have copies of your naturalization/citizenship papers. If not, submit oneApplication for replacement of a naturalization/citizenship document. Contact for helpUS Citizenship and Immigration Services.
A marriage certificate allows you to legally marry. A marriage certificate proves that you got married. How you get copies depends on whether you were married in the United States or abroad.
Married in the US: How to Obtain a Certified Copy of a Marriage Certificate
Contact the state registry office. They can refer you to the clerkcity or countywhere the license was issued or to another local office. They will tell you the cost, what information you must provide, and whether you can have a copy online, by mail, or in person.
How to get a copy of a marriage certificate
County governments issue marriage certificates. It may be a clerk, probate court, or marriage department that issues them. Contact thedistrict governmentwhere you will get married to apply for a license.
Most marriage certificates expire in 30 days to a year depending on the issuing state.
If yours expires or is lost before you get married, apply for a new one.
Married Abroad: How to Obtain Marriage Certificates
Contact the embassy or consulatethe country where the marriage took place. The staff will help you obtain a certified copy of the foreign marriage certificate.
The State Department has documents on file confirming marriages that:
Occurred before November 9, 1989
A US consular officer was a witness
If these facts are true, contact the State Departmentreceive a copy of the certificate of marriage abroad.
Many organizations require a certified copy of the death certificate when someone dies. How you get copies depends on whether the person died in the US or abroad.
Death in the US: How to Obtain a Certified Copy of a Death Certificate
Contact the registry officeof the state where the death occurred to find out:
- How to order a certified copy of a death certificate online, by mail or in person
- This will get you a copy quickly
- The cost of each certified copy
You must know the date and place of death. The state may also ask for other details about the person, such as how you are related to them or why you want the certificate.
When to use a certified copy or a photocopy
You must obtain a certified copy of the death certificate to:
- Notifying the Social Security Administration and other government agencies
- Closure or transfer of credit cards and bank accounts
- Applying for a person's life insurance or pension
You may only need a photocopy for other tasks, such as B. Canceling a subscription. Check with the agency or organization that manages the specific account.
Death of a US Citizen Abroad: How to Obtain Death Certificates
If a US citizen dies in another country, the US Embassy or Consulate should receive a death certificate or notice from the foreign government. It will then issue oneConsular Death Notification Abroad (CRDA). Use the CRDA in the US as proof of death to close accounts and complete legal tasks.
- You can get up to 20 certified copies free of charge at the time of death.
- Order more copies of the CRDAfrom the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A divorce decree is an official court document authorizing the termination of a marriage. It contains exact details of the divorce.
A certificate of divorce is issued by a state registry office. It shows that a divorce has occurred, but not all the same information as a divorce decree. You can save time and money by determining which document you need before requesting a copy.
How to get a copy of a divorce decree
Contact the "Landeskanzleramt" or "Kanzlei desgerichts".county or citywhere the divorce took place.
How to get a copy of a divorce certificate
Contact theregistry officethe state where the divorce took place.
If the divorce took place in another country and you are in the US, contact usthe embassy or nearest consulate of that country.They can tell you how to get a copy of the divorce decree.
United States law does not require US citizens to register a foreign divorce decree with an embassy. But if the country where your divorce took place is a signatory of theHague Convention on the Legalization of Documents, you can take your divorce decree to aUS Embassy or Consulateto have it certified.
Once an adoption is complete, the state seals all records to protect the privacy of everyone involved. toObtain adoption recordsAdopted persons have to make arrangements through government agencies. Find out what recordings are available and how to get them.
Contact a state agency for adoption records
You may be able to receive identifying or non-identifying information about your adoption. What information you may receive depends on state law. Some states have age restrictions or require court procedures to obtain information about an adoptee's birth.
Non-identifying information includes:
- Date and place of birth of the adoptee
- Birth parents:
- physical descriptions
- medical history
- Gender, age, and other non-identifying information of siblings by state
- The reason the child was put up for adoption
Identifying information includes:
- Current or previous names
- The address
- employment history
ThroughSearching the Child Welfare Information Gateway, you can find out which state agency to contact for adoption records.
Access to Adoption Records by Consent
In some states, you may be able to access identifying information through a mutual consent registry. These registers allow everyone involved in an adoption to declare what information may be disclosed. Some states may require consent from both birth and adoptive parents for recording release. However, the release of information varies by state.
If your state does not maintain a register of mutual consent, there are other ways to obtain records through consent. Biological parents can be located in some states, whether public or private. When an agency contacts birth parents, they can find identifying information through:
- Confidential intermediary system – The court authorizes a court-certified confidential intermediary. This permission grants them access to sealed adoption records. You can also contact the birth parents for consent to share identifying information.
- Sworn System – Birth parents can officially submit their consent or refusal to be identified or contacted.
Use the Child Welfare Information Gateway toFind out how your state allows access to your adoption records.
Obtain an original birth certificate
When an adoption is complete, the state issues a new birth certificate to the adoptive parents. The adoptee's original birth certificate is then sealed and kept confidential by the State Department of Civil Registration. Half of the states in the US require a court order to unseal an original birth certificate. However, many states allow access to original birth certificates through:
- A proposal from the adult adoptee
- A request from the adoptee, unless the birth parent has submitted an affidavit refusing access
- Determining Eligibility to Obtain Identifying Information from the State
- A record of the consent of both birth parents
Receive international adoption records
If either the adoptee or birth parents live outside the United States,International Social Service USA (ISS-USA)can help both to look for each other. The organization provides support for adoption cases in over 120 countries.
Do you have a question?
Ask a real person any government-related question for free. They will give you the answer or let you know where to find it.
- Speak to a live USA.gov agent
- Web chat with a live USA.gov agent
Last updated: July 8, 2022