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Disaster Manual: Section 12 - Replacing Lost Documents

Disaster Relief

Address legal problems resulting from a disaster

This is the twelfth section of the Disaster Manual. This section is on replacing lost documents. This resource is meant for volunteer lawyers. 

This outline provides information on how to go about replacing documents lost, destroyed, or damaged during a disaster.

Download the full manual.

Disaster Manual Table of Contents

Click each title to go to that section of the manual. - Index Page

  1. Introduction
  2. FEMA and Related Forms of Assistance
  3. Falling Trees, Flying Limbs & Related Noises
  4. Landlord/Tenant Issues
  5. Real and Personal Property
  6. Employer/Employee Issues
  7. Social Security, Banking, and Financial Issues
  8. Consumer Protection Issues
  9. Insurance Issues
  10. Health Care Issues
  11. Personal Bankruptcy Issues
  12. Replacing Lost Documents
  13. Family Law, Child Welfare, and Foster Care Issues
  14. Education Law Issues
  15. Immigration Issues
  16. Community Organizations/Small Businesses
  17. Wills and Estate Planning
  18. Disability Rights in Disasters
  19. Resource & Referral Guide

12.1 U.S. Mail Service

Call 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777) for general assistance. If you suspect you have been targeted by mail fraud, identity theft involving the U.S. mail system, or theft or destruction of your mail, you can call 1-877-876-2455 or file a complaint online.

TDD/TTY Relay: Call 1-800-877-8339. Ask for 1-800-275-8777 for customer service or 1-877-876-2455 for mail-related crimes.

12.2 Bank and Investments Accounts

Many lost records or bankcards can be replaced by visiting your local bank branch. If your bank has been destroyed or no local branches are in operation, contact your bank’s customer service department. Some customer service numbers for frequently used banks are listed below. If your bank is not listed below, the FDIC maintains a directory of contact information for FDIC-insured banks. To file a complaint against or your bank or for additional information, visit

JP Morgan Chase 1 (800) 935-9935
Bank of America 1 (800) 432-1000
USAA Federal Savings Bank 1 (800) 531-8722
Comerica Bank 1 (800) 925-2160
Wells Fargo Bank 1 (800) 869-3557
BBVA Compass Bank 1 (844) 228-2872
Frost Bank 1 (800) 513-7678
Texas Capital Bank 1 (877) 839-2265
Prosperity Bank 1 (800) 531-1401
Capital One 1 (877) 383-4802
Citibank 1 (888) 248-4226

12.3 Benefits Programs—Lone Star Card, Food Stamps/SNAP, WIC, and TANF Benefits

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Texas Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) are administered in Texas by the Health and Human Services Commission through the Lone Star Card. If your Lone Star Card is lost or stolen, contact HHSC as soon as possible at 1-800-777-7328 so that your existing card will be canceled, and your benefits will be preserved. If you would like to know more about the SNAP, TANF, or WIC programs or if you are not currently enrolled but you need assistance due to an emergency situation, you can learn more about how to apply here or by calling 1-877-541-7905.

Additionally, the USDA can authorize the issuance of emergency SNAP benefits when there is a presidentially-declared emergency or when grocery stores or other regular commercial food supply channels have been restored following a disaster. The D-SNAP (Disaster SNAP) system operates under a different set of eligibility and benefit delivery requirements than the regular SNAP. People who might not ordinarily qualify for SNAP benefits may be eligible under the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program if they have had disaster damage to their homes, expenses related to protecting their homes, lost income as a result of the disaster, or do not have access to bank accounts or other resources. For information on the emergency SNAP benefits in Texas, visit the Texas Department of Health and Human Services.

12.4 Birth, Death, Marriage, and Divorce Records

For births that occurred in the State of Texas within the past 75 years and deaths that occurred in the State of Texas within the past 25 years, only the person themselves or the immediate family members (child, parent, sibling, grandparent, or spouse) of the person whose name is on the birth certificate or death certificate are eligible to request a copy. Those with any other relationship must provide legal documentation, such as a court order establishing guardianship. You can obtain birth or death certificates from the Vital Statistics Office.

If you were born or adopted out of state, contact the local county records office where you were born or adopted for instructions of how to obtain a copy of your birth certificate.

Marriage certificates and divorce decrees must be ordered from the county clerk in which the marriage or divorce was granted. Contact information for the largest Texas counties’ clerks are listed below:

Bexar County (210) 335-2216
Dallas County (214) 653-7099
Collin County (972) 548-4185
El Paso County (915) 546-2071
Harris County (713) 274-8600
Hidalgo County (956) 318-2100
Tarrant County (817) 884-1195
Travis County (512) 854-9188

12.5 Credit Cards

If you find that your credit cards were lost or left behind, your best option is to call the bank that issued the card and get a new one as soon as possible. If you expect to have any issues with missed or late payments or spending limits, you should address them with your credit card issuer as promptly as possible. The issuer may have programs or policies in place to ease the burden on customers facing emergency situations.

When personal documents and credit cards are unsecured, you should be on guard against identity theft. One step you can take is to place a fraud alert on your credit report, which will make it harder for criminals to open accounts in your name. To do this, you should contact one of the three major credit bureaus, each listed below. Each bureau is required to notify the other two when a fraud alert is listed. The fraud alert is free and lasts for one year. You can find more information at the Federal Trade Commission.

TransUnion 800-680-7289
Experian 888-397-3742
Equifax 800-525-6285

12.6 Children’s Texas Immunization Records

The statewide immunization registry, known as ImmTrac2, will keep an electronic immunization record for those children that have registered. Information contained in the registry includes the child’s name, date of birth, address, the name of the parent or guardian, information on the shots given, and who gave them. Optional information stored in ImmTrac2 is the child’s Social Security number and mother’s maiden name. This optional information helps prevent duplicate records from being created.

Immunization information is available only to persons authorized by law to see it. Only doctors, schools, childcare centers, and public health providers with ImmTrac2-issued identification numbers and passwords may view the information. More information can be found at:

Texas Department of State Health Services
Immunization Unit – Central Office

1100 West 49th Street
Austin, Texas 78756
Phone: 1-800-252-9152

Additional information for patients and parents is available from Texas Health and Human Services FAQ’s for Parents and information for healthcare providers is available at FAQ’s for Providers and Organizations.


12.7 Deeds and Mortgages

These records are maintained by the clerk of court for the county where the property is located. If the deed or mortgage was filed for record, a copy can be obtained from the county clerk. Many records can be obtained online from the county clerk website. Contact information for the largest Texas counties’ clerks are listed below:

Bexar County (210) 335-2216
Dallas County (214) 653-7099
Collin County (972) 548-4185
El Paso County (915) 546-2071
Harris County (713) 274-8600
Hidalgo County (956) 318-2100
Tarrant County (817) 884-1195
Travis County (512) 854-9188

It is important that you maintain communication with your mortgage or mortgage servicing company if you are having issues making your monthly mortgage payment due to lost documents. The current mortgage servicer should have filed notification with the county clerk that it holds the mortgage on your property. The notification should provide contact information for you to use if you have lost your mortgage information.

12.8 Driver License or Identity Card

If you need to obtain a replacement without changing any information on the front of the card, you may use the Texas Department of Public Safety Online Card Replacement found at You will need to provide the following information:

  1. Your driver license or identification card number;
  2. Your date of birth;
  3. The last four digits of your social security number; and
  4. The audit number from your most recently issued card found on the bottom of your id or driver’s license.

If your card has been lost, stolen, or destroyed and you do not have the information listed above, you must visit your local driver license office to obtain a replacement. To apply for a replacement driver license, commercial driver license, or ID card at your local driver license office, you must:

  1. Complete the replacement application before making an appointment—the application can be found online at and is also available at all driver license offices; and
  2. Make an appointment at your local driver license office either online or at the driver license office.

At your appointment, you must provide the following documentation to the license and permit specialist:

  1. Application replacement; and
  2. Proof of Identity. Examples of primary and secondary identity documents and all other supporting documents can be found at You are only required to provide one primary, secondary, or supporting document at your in-person office appointment.

If you have not previously provided the following documentation to the Texas Department of Public Safety when you first obtained your driver’s license or ID, at your in-person office appointment you will also need to present:

  1. U.S. Citizenship or, if you are not a U.S. Citizen, evidence of lawful presence;
  2. Social Security Number;
  3. Provide your thumbprint;
  4. Have your picture taken; and
  5. Pay an application fee.

More information regarding replacement driver’s license and/or ID card can be found at

12.9 Immigration and Citizenship Documents

If you are a permanent resident who needs to replace your Green Card, or a conditional resident who needs to replace your two-year card, you may apply for a replacement card by filing a USCIS Form I-90 (form and instructions available here, online filing available here). For further assistance, visit Replace Your Green Card.

If you need to replace a Naturalization Certificate, Certificate of Citizenship, or Repatriation Certificate, you may apply for a replacement here. If you wish to apply by mail, you will need to complete and submit Form N-565 Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document (form and instructions available here) and pay a $555 filing fee. You will also need to provide two passport-style photos and submit additional documents as specified on Form N-565.

12.10 Insurance Documents

To replace lost or destroyed insurance documents, contact your insurance agency. For information regarding flood insurance issued by the National Flood Insurance Program, see FEMA Flood Insurance. If you are having problems with your insurance agency or to file a complaint, contact the Texas Department of Insurance Consumer Help Line at 1-800-252-3439 or by visiting their website.

12.11 Medicare/Medicaid Cards

To replace a Medicare card, visit the Social Security Administration office or request a replacement through your online my Social Security portal by logging in or creating an account. Additional information available here and here. You may also call the National Social Security Hotline at 1-800-772-1213.

To replace a Texas Medicaid card, call toll-free 1-800-252-8263 or visit (log in to your account and click on “Manage,” then click “Medicaid & CHIP Services” in the Quick Links section, then click “View Services and Available Health Information,” then click on the “Cards” tab). Additional information available here.

Note: Make sure that Medicare and Medicaid have updated mailing addresses if you are displaced from your home. There can be very important notifications of deadlines, coverage changes or requests for mandatory information from Medicare and Medicaid. If you miss those notifications due to a wrong address, your coverage can be negatively impacted.

12.12 Passports

If your passport is lost, you should report it lost by going online to the U.S. Department of State website and submitting a DS-64 form. You may also send a completed and signed DS-64 form by mail to the address on the form or call 1-877-487-2778 (TTY number: 1-888-874-7793) to report it lost.

You cannot replace a lost passport by mail or online but must fill out a DS-11 form (download here) and make an appointment to apply in person at a passport agency or center. You must bring original documentation of proof of citizenship, such as an original birth certificate and a government-issued photo ID. To obtain more information regarding replacement of a lost passport, go to U.S. Department of State.

12.13 Social Security Cards and Payments

To replace a lost, stolen, or destroyed Social Security Card, visit the Department of Social Security or call toll-free 1-800-772-1213 (TTY number: 1-800-325-0778). You can also visit your nearest Social Security Administration office to request a replacement card. Find the nearest location here.

If you suspect that your Social Security Number is being used to commit fraud, or if you receive a suspicious call from someone purporting to be the Social Security Administration, contact the Office of the Inspector General’s fraud hotline at 1-800-269-0271 or submit a report online.

If you have a problem with your Social Security payment, go to the nearest office of the Social Security Administration, call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY number: 1-800-325-0778), or visit Most issues can be handled through your my Social Security portal online (log in or create an account). If you do not receive your regularly scheduled payment from Social Security as a result of severe weather or other emergencies, you can obtain emergency payments if necessary. For more information, log on to Office Closings and Emergencies. Social Security checks can also be direct deposited or put on an SSA-issued credit card (the US DirectExpress card). To replace your DirectExpress card, call 1-888-741-1115 or visit DirectExpress.

Note: Make sure the Social Security Administration has an updated mailing address if you are displaced from your home. There can be very important notifications of deadlines, coverage changes or requests for mandatory information from Social Security. If you miss those notifications due to a wrong address, your social security payments could be negatively impacted.

12.14 Tax Documents

You can order a copy of your past tax returns online using the “Get Your Tax Record” tool. Just click the “Get Transcript by Mail” button to have a paper copy sent to your address of record. You can also order by phone at 1-800-908-9946 or by mail by completing and mailing either Form 4506, Form 4506-T, or Form 4506-T-EZ. Form 4506-T can also be used to request other tax records, such as tax account transcripts, records of account, wage and income, and verification of non-filing. For more information or to download the appropriate forms, visit the IRS website.

If you have lost your W-2, 1099, or K-1, you should first contact your employer for a replacement. If you are unable to obtain a replacement from your employer, you can contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. You’ll need the following when you call:

  1. Your name, address, Social Security number, and phone number;
  2. Your employer’s name, address, and phone number;
  3. The dates you worked for the employer; and
  4. An estimate of the amount of wages you were paid and federal income tax withheld, if any. If possible, you can use your final pay stub to figure these amounts.

12.15 Wills or Other Estate Planning Documents

In Texas, if you have lost your original will, you should execute a new will. This is true even if you have a copy of the original will, because Texas law imposes many burdens on those trying to probate a lost original will. If there are no originals or copies, then a new will must be executed. As a practical matter, even if you have your original will, it may be necessary to draft a new will due to the dramatic change in property value/ownership due to a disaster. Certain gifts in the will may fail if property has been destroyed, or the prior will also may not adequately deal with insurance proceeds as a replacement for specific gifts.

If you do not have the original will for a recently deceased person but do have a copy, the copy can be submitted to probate. To probate a lost will, three things must be proved: (1) due execution (for example, a witness who can testify that the deceased appropriately executed the original will), (2) reason why the original will cannot be produced (for example, a witness who can testify that the will was last seen in a house that was destroyed by fire or flood), and (3) the contents of the will, either with a copy or by a witness who is familiar with the contents. Under Texas law, if a person dies and their will cannot be proved, the person is considered to have died intestate, and their estate will be distributed according to state law.

You may want to consider taking your will to your local county clerk’s records office. The office will keep the original will for safekeeping but will not make it public unless a formal probate action is filed.

Note: If you update or change your will that has been filed with the County Clerk, it is important that the updated/changed will document be given to the County Clerk so that they can update their records.

If you have executed a medical power of attorney, you may want to give a copy of the medical power of attorney to your doctor and the local hospital so that they can have a copy on hand for emergencies or if you become incapacitated and the original document is lost.

Note: If you update or change your medical power of attorney that has been provided to your doctor and/or the hospital, it is important that the updated/changed medical power of attorney be given to those medical providers so that they can update their records.

If you have executed a statutory power of attorney for property, you may want to give a copy of the power of attorney to your bank so that they can have a copy on hand in case your designated agent needs to access your bank account if you become incapacitated and the original documents have been lost.

Note: If you decide to give a copy of the statutory power of attorney to your bank, make sure that your agent is trustworthy and will not try to obtain funds inappropriately. If you do not trust the person that you have appointed as your agent under a statutory power of attorney, you should strongly reconsider your choice. If you update or change your statutory power of attorney that was given to your bank, it is important that the updated/changed statutory power of attorney be given to the bank so that they can update their records.

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