Replacing Lost Legal Document

Replacing Lost Legal Document

Replacing your important documents that were lost or destroyed in a flood, fire, or other disaster can be overwhelming. Although the process varies from state to state, these general steps can help you get started.

Please keep in mind that this list does not include every detail of the process. Some entities will waive fees for replacing lost documents or cards if the loss or damage was due to a disaster. Some creditors will waive late fees, extend payment deadlines and make other payment accommodations if the reason for the delayed payment is due to a disaster. If you need a fee waiver or more time to pay bills, JUST ASK. 


You lost your ID, social security card, birth certificate, or other legal docs due to a natural disaster. 

  • You have the right to replace your driver's license or ID card replaced, prior to its expiration, if the credential is lost, stolen or you need to make an update. 


Step 1: To replace your legal documents, arrange for mail delivery if your home was destroyed

  • Government agencies usually mail replacement vital documents to your home.
  • If you lost your home, contact your local post office. Ask if you can pick up your mail there or request to have your mail forwarded to a temporary location.  
  • Visit!input.action

Step2: Replace your U.S. birth/death/marriage/divorce certificates.

  • Find the vital records office in the state where you were born. Check to see if you can get a certified copy of your birth certificate with no identification. If you can, follow the ordering instructions.
  • Visit
  • Some states accept alternate ways to verify your identity. You may have to contact your state to find out what it requires. For example, a state may accept your sworn statement of identity. Or, another state may accept a notarized letter from your mother or father whose name is on your birth certificate, along with a copy of their photo ID.
  • If you do need your own government-issued photo ID to get a copy of your birth certificate, start with step 3 - replacing your driver’s license. 
  • Check the rules of the state you were born in for its procedures for issuance or replacement. In some states, you can order a replacement certificate online without providing ID. 

Step 3: Replace Your Driver’s License

  • Identification cards help you prove who you are, where you live or work, and what benefits you are entitled to. For these reasons, replacing lost identification is important after a disaster has occurred.  
  • Visit  for information on renewing or replacing your Florida identification. 
  • To replace your state-issued ID, you may visit any driver license service center statewide to renew or replace your credential. For the first in-office issuance after January 1, 2010, you must bring original documents that validate your identity, Social Security Number (SSN) and residential address. 

Step 4: Replace Your Green Card

  • If you are a lawful permanent resident of the U.S., apply for a replacement permanent resident card.
  • Click here to visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website to read more about the process, which will require you to complete and file a form called the I-90 by mail or online.

Step 5: Replace Your Naturalization or Citizenship Documents

  • If you are a naturalized U.S. citizen, follow the steps to apply to replace your naturalization or citizenship papers.
  • Visit
  • If you don’t have a copy of your original documents to submit with your application, contact the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at

Click here to visit the USCIS website to learn about the costs and process to replace this document.

Step 6: Replace Your Marriage Certificate

  • You’ll need a certified copy as proof if you changed your name when you got married. Contact the vital records office in the state where you were married.

Step 7: Replace Your Social Security Card

  • There is no emergency procedure for replacement so complete a regular application (Form SS-5), in person, at a local Social Security Administration office.  First, find out if you need a replacement card.  Most of the time, you’ll just need to know your number and not show your card. If you do need a card, follow these steps to replace your Social Security card

Step 8: Report Your Lost or Destroyed U.S. Passport and Apply for a Replacement

Step 9: Replace Other Important Documents

  • Replace your voter registration card through your state or local election office. Click here for an election office locator online.
  • Click here to learn how to replace other documents including Medicare and Medicaid cards and military and federal employee IDs.  

Step 10: Replace your Debit/Credit Cards. 

  • Contact your bank or credit card servicer for replacements. If bank number unknown, then call the FDIC’s toll-free number at (877) 275-3342. They may be able to assist you with phone numbers for your financial institutions.


Store important documents safely.

  • Before a disaster hits, keep an inventory of the important documents you have. Consider storing important documents in a safe deposit box or copies of them at a place other than your home that you trust and know is secure. Scan and upload them to your email account or simply take photos of them that are backed up to the web. Wherever you choose to keep backup copies of your documents, be sure that it is secure and, if online, password protected. 
  • The following documents are vital and should be backed up before a disaster:  
    • wills, trusts, powers of attorney,
    • birth/marriage certificate,  
    • identification,  
    • social security card,  
    • passport,
    • naturalization/residency papers.  
  •  Other documents that you may need to take an inventory of, include the following:  
    • insurance papers (health/life/home/auto);  
    • appraisals of property, vehicle title/property deeds/closing statements;
    • household inventory;  
    • recent bank/credit card statement, utility bills, debt contracts;  
    • education diplomas/transcripts;  
    • medical records;  
    • funeral plans; and  
    • tax returns.   
  • To replace your state-issued ID, you may visit any driver license service center statewide to renew or replace it. For the first in-office issuance after January 1, 2010, you must bring original documents that validate your identity, Social Security Number (“SSN”), and residential address.  

Get Help

  • In the Florida counties of Orange, Volusia, Osceola, and Seminole, the non-profit assistance organization named IDignity may be able to help you with a replacement plan or costs.

Click here to view their website and contact information.

Related Guides