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My House Caught on Fire: How Do I Replace Personal Documents after a Fire?

When your home has been burned in a house fire, you will most likely have lost some personal documents as well as money. In times of stress, the last thing you want to be doing is figuring out how to replace these items.

Here’s what you need to know to replace some common documents and items that get lost or damaged in a house fire. You should try to replace these items as soon as possible.

Driver’s License

The steps may vary a bit from state to state, but are similar, overall. If you live in Arizona, the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) recommends that you report your lost driver’s license to the police as a first step. Next, depending on your situation, you can replace your license online, in person at an MVD location, by phone or by mail. Visit DMV.org for more details.  

Vehicle Registration

Again, the steps are similar in each state. In Arizona, you can replace your vehicle registration online or in person. To obtain a duplicate vehicle registration, you will need to visit your
local Arizona MVD office and provide AZ MVD with a photo ID. To apply for a duplicate registration online, you'll need to visit the online services section of the Arizona MVD website and provide your license plate number, your vehicle identification number (VIN) and your driver’s license number.

Social Security Card
You cannot apply for a replacement social security card online. You must show required documents, complete an application form and mail or take your application and documents to your local social security office. Here is a link on the Office of Social Security website that contains all the information you need to apply for a replacement social security card, including the pdf application to download and complete. It generally takes about 10-business day to receive your new card once your application and the required documents have been received and processed by the Office of Social Security.

Passport

You must report a missing passport right away to the United States Department of State by calling the U.S. Department of State at (877) 487-2778 or (888-874-7793 for TTY); or by completing a Statement Regarding a Lost of Stolen U.S. Passport Book And/Or Card (Form DS-64), signing the statement and mailing it to the address on the form. Once you have reported your passport missing, it will no longer be a valid passport.

To replace your passport while in the U.S. you'll need to visit an authorized passport acceptance facility, such as a post office. You will then need to complete a Statement Regarding a Lost of Stolen U.S. Passport Book And/Or Card (Form DS-64) and complete an Application for a U.S. Passport (Form DS-11). Be sure to bring a recent, color passport photograph, proof of your U.S. citizenship and identity. You will also need to pay applicable fees. Use the facility locator on the U.S. Department of State website to find an approved U.S. passport facility near you.


Birth, death and marriage certificates

You will need to contact your state office of vital records to replace birth, death, marriage or divorce certificates. In Arizona, you can reach the Arizona Department of Health Services, Office of Vital records here to obtain information on replacing these documents. 


Medicare Card

You can apply to replace your Medicare Card on the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) website. You will need to fill out an online form and send it electronically to SSA. You can find the information on how to replace your Medicare Card here. You will receive your new card in about 30 days. 


Medicaid Card

Medicaid is run differently in each state. To replace your Medicaid Card, you will need to contact your state Medicaid department. In Arizona, Medicaid is called AHCCCS and the website’s Help Center can be accessed from the homepage.  

Credit cards
To replace lost credit cards, you will need to contact the bank or institution for each credit card to cancel the existing card and replace it with a new card.


Citizenship Papers

You will need to visit the website of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to access the forms to initiate receiving replacement citizenship papers. The form you will need to complete and instructions for filing it can be found here. There is a $345 application fee.


Replacing Burned or Damaged Money

Bills

Place damaged paper money in plastic wrap to preserve it and handle it as little as possible. You have two options for replacing burned money: 

Coins
You can take damaged or melted coins to your regional Federal Reserve Bank as well or mail by “registered mail, return receipt requested” to: Superintendent U.S. Mint, P.O. Box 400, Philadelphia, PA 19105

U.S. Savings Bonds

To replace destroyed U.S. Savings Bonds, obtain the Department of Treasury Form PD F 1048 (I) from your local bank or at www.ustreas.gov and mail it to: Department of the Treasury, Bureau of the Public Debt, Savings Bonds Operations P.O. Box 1328, Parkersburg, WV, 26106-1328

Conclusion

We hope you have found the information in this article helpful. We wish you the very best in recovering from your house fire or other home disaster. We know it’s a stressful time for you and your family.

For more information, please download our eBook – Your Guide to Surviving a House Fire, which can be found on our website’s homepage

Resources & Support:Having access to the right resources after your home has been burned is very important. Learn more about these resources and access our list of vendors for discounted pricing.

Selling Your Home After the Fire:You may be surprised to learn that sometimes the best and most profitable option is to sell your home after it has been in a fire. Find out why.

Get the Most Money on Your Fire Damage Claim:Your insurance company will offer around 80% of your insurance claim. It's important to know that private claim adjusters working on your behalf can negotiate with your insurance company for much more. Learn how.

Restoring Your Home After the Fire:Restoring your home after a fire can be costly and stressful. But sometimes it is what is best for a homeowner. We have resources that can help you navigate the restoration process.

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