What to Do If You’ve Lost All Your IDs

Woman asking what to do if she has lost all her IDs

Losing all of your IDs is a frustrating experience, since you often need to show ID to access services and make purchases. If you have lost all of your IDs due to an accident or theft, don’t panic.

You can protect yourself and replace your IDs quickly and easily if you follow the handy guide we’ve put together to walk you through the replacement process.

It may seem like replacing all of your identification documents is a complicated hassle, but in reality, the process is pretty simple. Once you’ve completed these steps, you should have all of your IDs again and be able to prove your identity.

Where to start when you’ve lost your IDs

It’s important to know which ID you should attempt to replace first. Once you have one form of ID, it’s much easier to get the others, so you should start with the easiest one to apply for first. To get started, you should complete the following tasks:

  1. Report the loss of your identification documents to the corresponding agencies, to avoid fines and prevent anyone from stealing your identity.
  2. If your IDs were stolen, call 311 to learn how to file a police report.
  3. If you lost any government-issued IDs (passports, military ID cards, driver’s licenses or base pass cards) inform the corresponding agency.
  4. If you have lost your documents while traveling abroad, contact the U.S. Embassy.
  5. Check with your employer, school, parents, etc. to see if they have copies of your IDs on file.
  6. Order a certified replacement birth certificate online. Birth certificate copies are easy to get and can help you apply for all of your other IDs.
  7. Replace the rest of your IDs, as indicated in the following sections.
  8. Make sure your new documents stay safe and secure.

We also have information on how you can replace an ID if you don’t have a birth certificate copy or Social Security card on hand.

Replacing your Birth Certificate after losing your IDs

Before you start applying for other IDs, you should order a certified copy of your birth certificate. You can use a birth certificate copy as proof of your identity to replace other IDs, including your non-driver ID card, driver’s license, and passport, with relative ease and little hassle.

Even if you’ve lost your Social Security card, you can still apply for a certified copy of your birth certificate online. You can fill out the short application form on your phone, tablet, or computer. It will ask for basic information about yourself, and possibly your parents.

Depending on the state you were born in, you may be able to get a birth certificate copy without a government-issued photo ID. If not, you may be able to have your parent or guardian (whose name is on your birth certificate) order a copy on your behalf.

If you don’t have access to an ID or a family member who can order a copy for you, you can get a replacement birth certificate by contacting the Vital Records Office in the state you were born. They will be able to assist you and provide you with alternative ways to prove your identity and get a birth certificate copy. The rules and regulations vary by state and county, so make sure you contact the office in your birth state.

What if I have changed my name?

If you’ve changed your name and your name on your birth certificate does not match your current name, you may need to get a copy of your marriage license, divorce decree or court order of name change first. You can get any of these from your Vital Records Office as well, usually without a photo ID.

What if my parents are deceased or absent?

If you can’t get a copy of your birth certificate and your parents are deceased or otherwise unable to get one for you, you may be able to replace your driver’s license first. Many states have a long list of alternative forms of ID that you can use to get a driver’s license. You can check with your local DMV for more information.

What if I was born abroad?

If you do not have a birth certificate and have a Consular Report of Birth Abroad instead, you should contact the Department of State to learn how to get a copy. You or your immediate family member should be able to apply for a copy, and you can use it just like you would a birth certificate.

CRBAs are issued to children born abroad to American citizens. So, if your parents were expats and you were born while they were located outside of the United States, you may have a CRBA instead of a birth certificate. Children born to parents who are in the military may also have a CRBA, not a birth certificate, if they were born on a military base outside the U.S. However, there are some exceptions. Babies born in certain countries or territories during specific time frames may have actually received U.S. birth certificates, rather than CRBAs. If you aren’t sure which one you have, you may want to check with your parents or click on the link below to find out more about CRBAs.

Check out our article on: Birth Certificates for U.S. citizens born abroad

How to replace your Social Security card

Once you have a certified copy of your birth certificate and at least one other form of ID, you can start the process of replacing your lost or stolen Social Security card (SSC). First, you should contact the Social Security Administration and let them know that your card is lost or stolen. This will help protect you from fraud and identity theft.

You can apply for a replacement SSC online or in person at your local SSA office. However, you will need your birth certificate and one of the following:

  • U.S. driver’s license
  • U.S. passport card or book
  • State-issued ID card
  • School ID card
  • Military ID card
  • Health insurance card

See more information here: How do I get a replacement Social Security card?

How to replace your state-issued ID card or driver’s license

The vast majority of Americans use their state-issued ID card or driver’s license as proof of age and identity. After you have a certified copy of your birth certificate, you can contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to learn how to get a replacement ID or driver’s license, since the regulations vary by state.

To apply for a replacement driver’s license or state-issued ID card, you will have to go to your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in person and fill out an application. Many states allow you to replace your ID or license using an alternative form of identification, however, it will be easier to apply if you already have your birth certificate.

You will also need to know your Social Security number, and possibly your driver’s license or ID number, even if you don’t have the cards on hand. After you have turned in your application, they will take a new picture and thumbprint and issue you a temporary license or photo ID. You will have to pay a fee, which varies by location, to get your new ID or driver’s license.

How to store your IDs securely

After all of your IDs are replaced, you’ll probably want to take additional steps to make sure that your IDs and vital records stay safe in the future. So, we’ve provided a few tips to keep your important documents safe and secure, so you can avoid going through the replacement process again.

  • Keep all of your original documents in a locked, fire-proof safe.
  • Make sure you have a certified copy of your birth certificate stored in your safe, as well.
  • Store your birth certificate and Social Security card in a safe place at home, not in your wallet.
  • Scan your IDs and keep the digital copies on your home computer to reference the information if you do need to replace any of them.
  • Memorize your ID or driver’s license number and your Social Security Number.

If you keep a certified copy of your birth certificate on hand in a safe place, it will be much easier to replace any lost or stolen identification documents. Even if you don’t need one right now, you should order one and keep it in a safe and secure location, so it’s there when you do need it. You can order a certified copy online in just a few minutes.

Order your Birth Certificate  

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