What can I do if I lost all my IDs?

If you have lost all forms of identification by misplacing them, because of an accident, a natural disaster or because someone has stolen them, your first reaction is probably to panic and ask yourself “How can I get a photo ID fast?”.

Rest assured this can be resolved. The steps outlined in this straightforward guide will teach you how to replace your lost identification documents as well as your vital records easily while protecting yourself from identity theft.

While replacing a lost ID may seem daunting, there are just 5 simple steps you need to follow for replacing all your certified vital records, and getting your other IDs reissued to restore your identity.


Table of contents

  1. What to do when you lose all your IDs
  2. Replacing your Birth Certificate when you have lost your IDs
  3. Replacing your state ID card
  4. Replacing your driver's license
  5. Security tips on storing your identification documents

What to do when you lose all your IDs

If you just realized that your IDs got lost, you are probably wondering where to get started and which document you must replace first, in order to be able to restore your other official identity documents, so let’s get started:

  1. Report the identification documents or vital records you have lost to avoid fines and protect yourself from identity theft:
  2. Call 311 to find out how to file a report for lost IDs in your area
  3. Call the issuing agency to report government-issued IDs such as passports, military ID cards, driver’s licenses or base pass cards
  4. Call the US embassy if you have lost your documents while you are abroad
  5. Reach out to people or organizations that may have your identification documents on file, such as your employer, school, university, parents, lawyer, etc.
  6. Order a birth certificate replacement online, this certified copy will allow you to verify your identity so you can replace the rest of your lost identification documents and vital records
  7. Restore the rest of your lost IDs as outlined in the following segments
  8. Properly store and protect your IDs from now on

You may also find our previous article that will teach you how to get an ID without a Birth Certificate or Social Security card particularly useful.

Replacing your Birth Certificate when you have lost your IDs

Your birth certificate is the most important document that proves your identity. It will allow you to recuperate your other identification documents, such as your state ID card, driver’s license, passport and more.

If you have lost all your official government identification documents including your SSC, the best thing you can do is to first get a certified copy of your birth certificate online. Fortunately, this can be done easily from your smartphone, tablet or computer. Make sure to fill out the required information such as your full name, the date and place of birth as well your parents’ names to submit your request.

Can I replace my Birth Certificate if I have lost all my IDs?

Certain states allow you to get a birth certificate replacement without requiring a government-issued photo ID. Other states request that your parents or legal guardians —whose names are on your birth certificate— submit a notarized letter with a copy of their photo IDs in order to have a replacement birth certificate issued on your behalf.

To replace your lost birth certificate without any other identification you will need to contact your local vital records office so that they provide you with instructions for your specific case. This may vary depending on the state you were born in, whether you were adopted, born on US territory, or abroad, and other factors.

How do I restore my Birth Certificate if I have changed my name?

If you have changed your name whether it was due to marriage, divorce or other reasons, you may need to request a copy of your marriage license, divorce decree or court order of name change first. These can usually be obtained without a photo ID at your local vital records office.

How can I obtain my Birth Certificate if my parents are deceased?

In the event that your parents are deceased or unable to submit the birth certificate replacement notarized request letter for you, you could attempt to get your driver’s license first.

If it were not possible to obtain a driver’s license without your birth certificate or other forms of identification in your state, another option would be to request a court assign you a legal guardian with the power to obtain a certified copy of your birth certificate for you.

How can I get a copy of my Birth Certificate if I was born abroad?

If you were born abroad or on a U.S. military base abroad, your best bet would be to contact the Department of State for your Consular Report of Birth Abroad. You will still need to ask your parents or legal guardians to make this request on your behalf, via a notarized letter and accompanying copies of their photo IDs, as outlined above.

Read more: Birth Certificates for U.S. citizens born abroad

Replacing your Social Security Card

If you have lost your social security card (SSC) you should notify the Social Security Administration immediately. You are probably also wondering how you can get a replacement Social Security Card.

Once you have received a certified copy of your birth certificate to prove your citizenship as well as to prove your age, you will need a photo identification document to prove your identity in order to have another Social Security Card issued.

Read more: How to get a replacement Social Security card?

Valid IDs for requesting a new Social Security Card

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

Replacing your state ID card

State ID cards are generally used as a common form of identification in day-to-day life. Issuance requirements may vary from state to state, so you are advised to contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) once you have received your birth certificate replacement, which will likely be required to restore different forms of State IDs. such as your driver’s license.

Replacing your driver's license

Replacing your driver’s license procedures vary from state to state and will require a visit to your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in order to complete an application in person. Some states will allow you to replace your driver’s license without the original card or other identifying documents.

Getting your new driver’s license issued will be much easier once you have received a certified copy of your birth certificate. Make sure to provide your driver’s license number during your application, should you find an old photograph, scan or photocopy of your driver’s license where the number is clearly visible.

Make sure you have your Social Security number at hand, even if you don't have the actual card. After completing the required forms at the DMV, an employee will take your picture and thumbprint. The DMV clerk will then validate the information provided, charge you a replacement fee and issue a temporary license or ID.

Security tips on storing your identification documents

Now that you have learned how to restore all your lost IDs, you must be wondering how to keep your identification documents and vital records safe. Here are a few pointers to help you out:

  • Keep your original documents in a safe
  • Store a certified copy of your birth certificate in your safe
  • Do not store your Birth Certificate and Social Security card in your wallet or purse, keep them in a safe place in your home or office where you will be able to find them easily
  • Make sure you have scanned all of your IDs and stored the digital copies safely on your home computer
  • Take pictures of all your IDs with your smartphone so you have them at hand without putting the original cards at risk
  • Ordinary photocopies of your identification documents have no legal value, however, they may provide you with your Social Security Number or your Driver’s License Number, for instance, which may be useful when applying for replacements
  • Leave copies of your IDs with trusted friends or family members
  • Memorize your ID number and Social Security Number

Remember, having a certified copy of your birth certificate will enable you to restore all your other forms of identification. Ordering a new birth certificate online does not require waiting in line in your local government office. Simply order your birth certificate now by completing a straightforward online form.