Birth certificate applications are online

Applications for new birth certificates will now be available online at a Puerto Rico government Web site, www.pr.gov, according to officials from the island.

Anyone born in Puerto Rico will have to apply for a new birth certificate beginning July 1, according to a law adopted earlier this year. But officials from the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, which held a press conference May 21, are asking that residents only apply in July if they are in immediate need of a new certificate. About 1.3 million residents in the United States and 4 million in Puerto Rico will eventually need to obtain new birth certificates.

The law was enacted to cut down on identity theft, which has been widespread on the island because of the overuse of birth certificates that subsequently were stored in unsafe places, according to information from the U.S. Department of State. Birth certificates have been misused to apply for school enrollment, employment, driver’s licenses, loans and even children’s sporting programs. The law also will prohibit public and private entities from retaining certified birth certificates.

Birth certificates of Puerto Ricans are the source of 40 percent of the more than 8,000 cases of passport fraud being investigated, according to the state department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

For more information about the new certificates, visit www.salud.gov.pr.

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