Puerto Ricans will need new birth certificates

February 1, 2010

If you were born in Puerto Rico, you may want to write this on your calendar. Starting July 1, 2010, Puerto Ricans born on the island will need to

apply for new birth certificates for any official transactions requiring that document, such as requesting drivers licenses or getting new passports.To

print out a birth certificate application to send in the mail please click here.The older birth certificates that have been issued in

Puerto Rico will be invalidated as of that date, as the government moves to implement security measures to avoid identity

theft and U.S. immigration fraud.  The birth certificates of Puerto Ricans are desirable to many from elsewhere in Latin

America who seek to pass themselves off as Spanish-speaking U.S. citizens. Those birth certificates were selling for $5,000

to $10,000 and accounted for 40 percent of birth certificate fraud in the United States, said Puerto Rico Secretary of State

Kenneth McClintock.

In addition to the new documents, which will have security markings to prevent fraud, Puerto Rico now bans for anyone

other than the person named in the certificate from keeping a copy of the original. "We had a bad habit through the decades

that people had to give their original birth certificates in order to register for day care, for elementary school, for middle

school, for high school or college, even to enter little league or sign up to a ballet class or register in summer camp, and as a

consequence we had thousands of student records containing birth certificates that remain valid," said McClintock.

Many of those certificates were being stolen and sold in the black market, McClintock said. "This change will benefit Puerto

Ricans; first, because we are taking steps to protect their identity and, second, because instead of getting 20 copies of your

birth certificates at $5 each, now they will be able to obtain one and, if it's well-cared for, it could be good to show for any

of those transactions." The changes were made, McClintock said, after the federal government approached island officials to

tell them of growing fraud and identity theft with those documents. There had also been incidents of burglars breaking into

island schools to steal birth certificates.

After July 1, Puerto Ricans will still be able to apply for new birth certificates by mail and the cost will remain at $5 each.