The thought of losing vital records like your passport, or child’s birth certificate, can induce a cold sweat on even the calmest folks. Don’t worry. If you lose an important document, you can replace it. Here’s what you do if you lose a vital record, according to

Birth, marriage, and death certificates

Birth, marriage, and death certificates are state records. To obtain a new copy of these docs, contact the appropriate office in the state where the event occurred. You can find contact information for state and territory offices at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website.


If you lose a passport, contact the State Department immediately at 877-487-2778. Visit for information about reporting and replacing a lost or stolen passport. You will need to fill out form DS-64 to report a lost passport. This can be done online or by mail. You’ll have to submit forms DS-11 in person at a passport agency. If you report a passport lost or stolen and later find it, you won’t be able to use the recovered passport again.

Military service records

If you lose your military service records, this could prevent you from applying for numerous governmental programs, such as healthcare or education benefits. Luckily, the National Archives , Washington, D.C., holds copies of all veterans’ service records. You can apply online to receive a copy of yours, or of an immediate family member if he or she is deceased. You can also submit your request on paper and submit by mail or fax.

Social Security card

As long as you’ve memorized your Social Security number, you may not need to replace your Social Security card. With just your number, you still can collect benefits and apply for governmental services. If you want a new card, you’ll need to collect documents proving your identity and U.S. citizenship and fill out an application to mail or take to your local Social Security office. You can also fill out the application online by first creating a “My Social Security” account.

Green card

If you’ve lost your U.S. permanent resident (green) card, you can request a new one online. You also may need to replace it if your biographical information has changed since it was issued. If you lost your green card outside the U.S., contact the nearest U.S. consulate or immigration office before applying online for a replacement. Information for obtaining copies of other vital documents can be found at After replacing these important papers, store them safely in a fireproof security box