Hurricane Harvey has revealed just how important paper documents continue to be, even in the digital age. It is incredibly frustrating to be denied the help you need to get your life back together because the disaster that caused your problems also destroyed the paperwork you are being asked to provide to prove you qualify for assistance.
Below is a checklist for getting replacement copies of a few key documents, and some tips for how to protect your documents going forward. Although it is a hassle, I recommend going through the process of requesting new documents directly. Never outsource the task to someone else, because that person or company could easily steal your identity instead of helping you.
The three documents you need to get replaced first are your driver license, birth certificate, and Social Security card. It’s pretty obvious why you need your driver license, but the other two documents are important as well because many government programs rely on them as supplemental documentation to prove your identity.
This guide created by the Texas Young Lawyers Association is intended to be an abbreviated checklist to help you obtain replacements of these necessary documents.
Your passport should probably be next on your replacement list even if you aren’t planning on traveling anywhere in the near future because it is like a super document. Oftentimes if you have your passport you won’t have to provide other forms of identification.
If your passport has been lost, report it to the U.S. Department of State and request a new one.
If your green card was lost or destroyed, you should report it to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and request a replacement immediately. Don’t put yourself at risk by delaying this task.
If a vehicle title is lost or destroyed, you may obtain a replacement by filling out Form VTR-34 on the Texas DMV’s website and following the other instructions on the form.
If you have questions about the title process, you can call the DMV at (888) 368-4689 or (512) 465-3000.
If your estate planning documents have been destroyed or lost, it is like they do not exist. Talk with your attorney about signing a new set of documents.
Going forward, consider investing in a fire and water proof safe for storing your important documents. If you are evacuating, consider taking your documents with you.