how to replace vital records

How to Replace Vital Records After a Fire

In September 15, 2017

If you or a loved one has experienced the tragedy of a home disaster, you fully understand the stress and heartbreak involved in picking up the pieces. With everything happening all at once, it can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to gaining control of your life again. Knowing how to replace vital records is one of the most important tasks to handle immediately after an accident or natural disaster. Vital records are important in all aspects of your life; financial records, school enrollment, insurance paperwork and more. Replacing vital records after an accident like a flood or house fire or a natural disaster like a hurricane or tornado is an important step to getting your life back on track.

How to Replace Vital Records After an Accident

In the event of a disaster such as a fire, flood or landslide, it’s not uncommon for vital records such as driver’s licenses, birth certificates, bank and school records and other forms of ID to become lost or damaged. It can be a long but necessary process to replace these documents. You’ll want to start by notifying your local Post Office to hold your mail or forward it to your new address. Most of these documents will be mailed to you so making sure they get to the right address is a good first start.


Documents and other vital records you may need to replace and who to contact:


  • Birth, death, marriage or divorce certificates – You can obtain certified copies of any of these documents by contacting, the only authorized external processor of official vital records nationwide. You can order your records online and have them delivered to you quickly. You will most likely need these records to obtain information about most of the following items:
  • Financial records – If you know the umber for the financial institution you’ve been banking with, contact your local branch for information on how to obtain your account information. If you’re unable to contact your bank, you can reach out to the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation). Be sure to also contact any credit card companies to alert them of your damaged cards.
  • Social Security Card – Knowing how to replace vital records includes obtaining a new copy of your social security card.
  • Property and deed documents – Your mortgage company should be able to assist you in replacing any lost paperwork. If you’ve lost any property deeds, contact your county’s recorder’s office. (The county in which the property is located).
  • School records – Once you have your ID’s in hand again, you’ll be able to contact the administration offices of any of you or your children’s schools to obtain copies of their transcripts and various school records.
  • Savings bonds and notes – While not a vital record, knowing how to replace damaged or lost bonds or notes is important. Fill out FS Form 1048 and mail it to the address on the application.
  • Tax records – The IRS has a special hotline to assist citizens in times of emergency. You can call the IRS Disaster Assistance Hotline at 1-866-562-5227, or visit their website. You may also qualify for tax relief due to your emergency.
  • Citizenship papers – Individuals who lost their green cards or other citizenship paperwork should contact the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to gain access to the forms and applications needed to obtain replacement papers.
  • Military records – To replace your Military ID cards or other military records, please contact the applicable branch of service or visit the website for more information.
  • Passport – It’s imperative that you notify the U.S. government in the event that you’ve lost your passport. To replace your damaged or lost passport, locate a passport acceptance facility near you. They’ll be able to walk you through the application process. You will need your certified birth certificate and other forms of ID to complete this process.
  • Vehicle records – Contact your local DMV office to obtain registration and driver’s license replacements.
  • Health insurance, medicare/medicaid cards – For private health insurance, contact your insurance company. To replace your Medicare card, you can find their contact information here. Because Medicaid is run differently state to state, you’ll need to contact your state’s Medicaid department.


We understand that after a tragic event, the loss of a home can be a lot to handle. Hopefully having all resources available to reach out and replace your vital records and other important documents can help you get things back under control and get your life back to normal.