If a fire destroyed all or part of your home, you may not have had time to save important documents like birth certificates, passports, and social security cards. During this stressful and emotional time, getting these documents replaced will help you feel as though you are putting your life back together. These are also the identification documents you may need for other aspects of the recovery process, so getting them replaced as soon as possible is vital.
But with so much to do, it can be hard to know exactly who to contact. Here is a list of important documentation you may need to replace after a fire and how to get it done. Dealing with the organizations that administer these documents could take a while, so take this process one step at a time.
The Vital Statistics Office provides this resource as a directory for replacing these documents in every state. You should click on the state where the birth, death, or marriage occurred. In order to obtain these documents, you may be asked for a photo ID and you should be prepared to pay between $10 and $20 depending on the state. For most states, a few different options are provided, including by mail and in person at the City Clerk office.
Your first step is reporting your lost passport—you can do this by calling this Department of State at (877) 487-2778 or filling out Form DS-64 and mailing it to the address on the form. To replace your passport, you’ll need to visit an authorized passport center (like a post office). You’ll need to fill out Form DS-11 (Application for a U.S. Passport), get a passport photo taken (you can get these at certain chain drugstores and UPS stores), provide proof of citizenship and identity, and pay any associated fees. The processing time for a passport application is 4-6 weeks.
You will need to provide proof of U.S. citizenship, age, and identity and provide at least 2 separate documents proving who you are. If you haven’t had time to get your replacements for other documents yet, other forms of identification may be accepted in some cases. These include employee identification card, school ID, health insurance card, or military ID. You will have to fill out an Application for a Social Security Card and mail it to your local social security office.
There are steps you can take to keep your important documents safe from future disasters. You can store your vital documents in a safe deposit box, or keep a home safe.
Replacing your documents after a fire can help with the emotional recovery just as much as the property restoration.