Puerto Rico’s New Birth Certificate Law (Law 191 of 2009 – As Amended)
The Government of Puerto Rico has enacted a new law (Law 191 of 2009 as Amended) aimed at strengthening the issuance and usage of birth certificates to combat fraud and protect the identity and credit of all people born in Puerto Rico.
The new law was based on collaborations with the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to address the fraudulent use of Puerto Rico-issued birth certificates to unlawfully obtain U.S. passports, Social Security benefits, and other federal services, and to commit other types of identity theft and fraud.
The new law calls for issuing new, security-enhanced certificates beginning July 1, 2010.
It is important to understand that there is no need to rush to get a new birth certificate immediately. For the time being it is suggested that only those who have a specific need for official purposes request the new certificate. Those persons born in Puerto Rico but living in the United States - mainland, Hawaii or Alaska- may request and receive their birth certificates through a simple process by mail.
The cost is $5, but persons 60 years or older and veterans may receive it free. For additional information on the new law please visit the links below.
Important update: The Government of Puerto Rico has approved an amendment that extends the validity of expiring Puerto Rico birth certificates for three months, through Sept. 30, 2010, to provide a transition period as the Island began issuing the new, more secure certificates on July 1, 2010.
The purpose of the extension is to provide those Puerto Rico-born individuals -- who may need a birth certificate for an upcoming transaction -- a three-month window to apply for and receive the new document during which time their current birth certificate will still be valid.
The Government of Puerto Rico has taken a number of steps to be ready for those applying for the new certificates.
In July, the Government of Puerto Rico partnered with document provider VitalChek to provide an expedited method for ordering the new certificates. The new birth certificates can be ordered on line at www.vitalchek.com or by phone through VitalChek’s 24/7 bilingual call center at (866) 842-6765. An express processing fee and shipping costs apply for this service.
In addition, the Government launched an on-line application process through the E-Government website – www.pr.gov- to provide convenience and ease-of-use for those applying for the new certificate.
Those Puerto Rican-born living in the states or the District of Columbia or the District of Columbia are also able to request their new birth certificates through a simple process by mail.
It is important to understand that there is no need to rush out and get a new birth certificate on July 1. It is suggested that only people who have a specific need for their birth certificate for official purposes need request a new birth certificate right away.
Instructions on how to apply, as well as information on Puerto Rico’s birth certificate law, can be foundthrough the links below:
About the Law:
Birth Certificate Law Fact Sheet and Frequently Asked Questions
Puerto Rico Birth Certificates Law 191 of 2009 (As Amended)
The government of Puerto Rico has enacted a new law (Law 191 of 2009, amended June 2010) to strengthen the issuance and usage of birth certificates, to combat fraud and to protect the identity and credit of all people born in Puerto Rico. The new law was based on collaboration with the U.S. Department of State (DOS) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to address the fraudulent use of Puerto Rico-issued birth certificates to unlawfully obtain U.S. passports, Social Security benefits, and other federal services.
In the past, many common official and unofficial transactions in Puerto Rico unnecessarily required the submission, retention, and storage of birth certificates. As a result, hundreds of thousands of original birth certificates were stored without adequate protection, making them easy targets for theft. Subsequently, many birth certificates have been stolen from schools and other institutions, sold on the black market for prices up to $10,000 each, and used to illegally obtain passports, licenses, and other government and private sector documentation and benefits. The common Hispanic names of most individuals born in Puerto Rico made the birth certificates highly desirable on the black market.
This left Puerto Rico-born citizens vulnerable to identity theft, ruined credit, stolen Social Security benefits, and increased “random” security checks at airports, among others.
Understanding the enormous risks to all individuals as well as the very significant homeland and national security concerns, the government of Puerto Rico took action to improve the security of all birth certificates and to better protect the public from fraud and identity theft.
Law 191 (as Amended) implements the following changes:
1) Starting July 1, 2010, the Puerto Rico Department of Health will begin issuing new, more secure birth certificates through the Vital Statistics Record Office.
2) On September 30, 2010, the law will invalidate all birth certificates issued before July 1, 2010. Until September 30, 2010, all birth certificates issued prior to July 1, 2010 will remain valid. The purpose of this three-month overlap in the validity of the old and the new birth certificates is to provide those Puerto Rico-born -- who may need a birth certificate for an upcoming transaction -- a three-month window to apply for and receive the new document during which time their current birth certificate will still be valid.
In order to upgrade service for those seeking the new, more secure birth certificates, the government of Puerto Rico has launched a new on-line application process on the E-Government website: www.pr.gov. Instructions on how to apply on-line or by mail, as well as information on Puerto Rico’s birth certificate law, can be found at: www.prfaa.com/birthcertificates/ and www.prfaa.com/certificadosdenacimiento/.
-- Continued -- Fact Sheet - Puerto Rico Birth Certificates Law 191 of 2009 (As Amended)
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why is there a need to issue new birth certificates in Puerto Rico starting July 1, 2010?
A: Puerto Rico birth certificates need to be made more secure because of the proven risks of identity fraud. This extraordinary measure had to be taken to protect the integrity of the identity, credit and citizenship of all individuals born in Puerto Rico. In addition, this measure is necessary to protect the security of all passports and to protect the nation against criminals who might try to appropriate the identity of a citizen by using a stolen birth certificate from Puerto Rico.
Q: On July 1, 2010, will everyone need to run out and get a copy of the new birth certificate right away?
A: No. The government of Puerto Rico recommends that only people who have a specific need for their birth certificate related to the usage of this document for official purposes (such as passport application, etc.) request a new birth certificate. Those people who want to obtain a copy of the new birth certificates for their records are encouraged to do so at a later date to prevent an unnecessary rush of applications and to ensure that those individuals who have a specific need for the birth certificates are able to obtain them in a timely fashion.
Q: How much will the new birth certificates cost?
A: All new birth certificates will cost $5. The fees will be waived for all veterans and people over the age of 60. In order to obtain their free copy all veterans must present Department of Defense Form 214 - Discharge Papers and Separation Documents. Most people will actually save money with this change because the new birth certificates issued after July 1, 2010, will have no expiration and citizens will no longer be required to submit multiple, original copies of their birth certificates for common transactions in Puerto Rico.
Q: How do I obtain a copy of the new birth certificate if I live outside of Puerto Rico?
A: The government of Puerto Rico has launched an on-line application process for the new, more secure birth certificates, in an effort especially aimed at upgrading service for the Puerto Rican-born community living stateside. On-line applications for the new certificates are being accepted at www.pr.gov.
Through the new on-line process, those seeking the new birth certificate will be able to complete the application, in English or Spanish, upload the necessary identification documents, such as a scanned copy of a driver’s license or U.S. passport, and pay for the new certificate via Visa or Master Card. The fee is $5, but will be waived for people over 60 and veterans. Applicants will receive a receipt of payment and information on how to check the status of their order. The on-line orders will be processed as they are received, and the new certificates will be shipped starting July 1, 2010.
-- Continued -- Fact Sheet - Puerto Rico Birth Certificates Law 191 of 2009 (As Amended)
Q: What if I want to apply by mail?
A: Citizens born in Puerto Rico but residing elsewhere may also apply for the new birth certificate via mail. The application form can be downloaded at: www.prfaa.com/birthcertificates/ and http://www.prfaa.com/certificadosdenacimiento/.
Once an applicant completes and signs the form, they should follow these steps:
1) Applicants may mail the completed application to the following address:
Puerto Rico Vital Statistics Record Office
P.O. Box 11854
San Juan, PR 00910
2) Include a photocopy of a valid government issued photo identification document. A passport or drivers license may be used; all other forms of government issued photo I.D. will be subject to approval.
3) Include a $5.00 Money Order payable to the Secretary of the Treasury of Puerto Rico.
4) Include a self-addressed envelope with paid postage.
To send applications through premium mail services (such as: FedEx, Express Mail, Registered Mail, UPS, etc.), correspondence should be directed to:
Puerto Rico Vital Statistics Record Office
171 Quisqueya Street
Hato Rey, PR 00917
Q: Who can obtain a birth certificate?
A: An individual may obtain their own birth certificate as long they are 18 years or older and were born in Puerto Rico. Interested parties may also obtain copies of an individual’s birth certificate if they are the individual’s parents, legal guardians, heirs or a person duly authorized by the courts.
Q: What happens if someone asks me for an original birth certificate and tells me that they will need to keep it to process a transaction?
A: The law clearly establishes that in Puerto Rico, for any purpose for which a birth certificate is needed as proof of identity, it will be sufficient for an individual to present (not give) the original copy of the birth certificate. The law allows for the submission, retention and filling of photocopies, either digital or paper, of the birth certificate, but expressly prohibits any public or private entity from retaining an original birth certificate under any circumstance. Under Puerto Rico law, any entity that violates this prohibition will be subject to a criminal misdemeanor, and could be held liable in civil court for the totality of any damages that may be incurred by any interested party affected by the violation of this law.
Q: Does the new law impact my current U.S. passport or state-issued drivers’ license?
A: No, the new law does not affect current drivers’ licenses or U.S. passports. Individuals born in Puerto Rico will need the new birth certificate if applying, after Sept. 30, 2010, for a drivers’ license or U.S. passport for the first time. For passport application details, go to the U.S. State Department website at www.travel.state.gov. -- End --
Text of New Birth Certificate Law
U.S. Department of State
Office of Language Services
LS No. 12-2010-0035
How to Apply:
VitalChek (www.vitalchek.com) * VitalChek, a LexisNexis company, works with hundreds of state and local agencies throughout the country to provide vital documents to consumers. Processing and shipping fees apply. Read the news release.
Government of Puerto Rico E-Government Site (www.pr.gov) * Once at pr.gov, click on the Certificado de Nacimiento button.
VitalChek call center (866) 842-6765) *Bilingual call center is manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Processing and shipping feeds apply.
Link to the Mail-In Application
Note regarding U.S. Passports: Those individuals who currently have a U.S. passport will not be affected. For those applying for a passport for the first time, go to the U.S. State Department website at www.travel.state.gov for application details.
Requirements to obtain the Birth Certificate, Marriage Certificate, Death Certificate and Stillborn.
The Law No. 24 of April 22, 1931, as amended, of the Demographic Registry defines the term "interested party" as the registrant if it is of legal age, mother, father, legal representative or heirs. The interested party will also be identified by the Court and, according to Law 191 of December 22, 2009, minors who have children.
Instructions for Uploading Digital Documents (ensure that documents are legible)
- Valid identification with photo in digital format:
- Driver’s license with photo
- Military Identification with photo
- Valid passport
- A copy of a previous birth certificate, which does not substitute the identification with photo.
- A copy of the marriage certificate if the person requesting the new certificate is a woman using her spouse’s last name.
- If more than one identification must be presented, digitalize all the documents together and send them in one same jpeg, jpg or pdf file (for example: valid driver´s license and marriage certificate in the case of a married woman who uses her husband´s last name in her identification; valid driver´s license with photo and copy of birth certificate in the case of a son or daughter requesting the certificate for a parent).
- If a child requests the certificate for his or her parents, he or she should send a copy of his or her birth certificate confirming the relationship.
- Veterans should submit a digital copy of Form 214 (discharge) to obtain a free certificate.
The permited document types are: "PDF", "JPEG" and "JPG". The documents can not exceed 1 MB.