Birth certificates don’t usually come with an expiration date, but if you were born in Puerto Rico, yours does: July 1st, 2010. After that date, all Puerto Rican birth certificates will be invalidated, per a law passed in Puerto Rico in January.

The law was passed to address the fact that criminals have made a practice of stealing Puerto Rican birth certificates and selling them on the black market.  In Puerto Rico, it used to be quite common to submit a copy of your birth certificate for purposes like school enrollment.

For example, Luis Balzac, regional director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration in Manhattan, told that:

“In Puerto Rico, it’s common to give a certified birth certificate when you enroll your child in school, when your child joins a sports league, when they register for summer camp. You leave certified copies of your birth certificate all over the place, there are too many floating around in the street, and they end up in the black market.”

The Department of Homeland Security has stated that 40% of all cases of passport fraud involved stolen Puerto Rican birth certificates.

According to the New York Daily News,  California, Ohio and Nevada have announced a moratorium on accepting Puerto Rican birth certificates for identification, until after the new certificates are issued in July.  Before July 1st, you can try to apply for a new passport with your Puerto Rican birth certificate, BUT due to high number of fraud cases you may be asked to present secondary evidence of US citizenship.  To see examples of secondary evidence, check out the Department of State’s web site.

So, what happens after July 1st? If you were born in Puerto Rico, you will need to apply for a new birth certificate. The fee is only $5.00, but the government of Puerto Rico isn’t accepting any applications before then.  So, you should probably expect  a bit of a wait to get your new, official birth certificate issued.  If you don’t immediately need a copy of your birth certificate to get a new passport or a driver’s license, the  Puerto Rican government is asking that you wait to apply so that the people with the greatest need can get their birth certificates first.

If you already have a US passport, there’s no reason to be concerned about the new requirements-as long as you still have your old passport, you can apply for a new passport by mail using the old one as proof of citizenship.

If you need a new passport, you will need a valid birth certificate. Once you have your birth certificate, RushMyPassport can submit your application directly to the Department of State for fast processing-often in as little as 24 hours.  Submitting your application through an expediting company can also help you find out more quickly if the government is going to ask for additional information from you, so you can get the issue addressed in enough time to go on your trip.

Apply for your new passport today!