SAN ANTONIO (Installation Management Command Public
Affairs) — Recent legislative action by Puerto Rico will soon begin
affecting U.S. servicemembers from that territory.
In January, the government of Puerto Rico implemented a new law aimed at
strengthening the issuance and usage of birth certificates to combat
fraud and to protect the identity of all people born in Puerto Rico. As
of July 1, the law will invalidate all birth certificates issued before
that date by the Puerto Rico Health Department, through its Vital
Statistics Record Office.
Puerto Ricans in the
U.S. Army at a glance
More than 30,000 Puerto Ricans
currently are serving in all Army Components.
About 13,000 Puerto Rican Soldiers
now are on active duty
Why such extraordinary measures?
According to a fact sheet by the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs
Administration, many common official and unofficial transactions on the
island “unnecessarily” required the submission, retention and storage of
Meaning: hundreds of thousands of original birth certificates were
stored without adequate protection, “making them easy targets for
Subsequently, many birth certificates have been stolen from schools and
other institutions; sold on the black market for prices up to $10,000
each; and used to illegally obtain passports, licenses and other
government and private section documentation and benefits.
The administration fact sheet also noted that because of such problems,
“approximately 40 percent of the passport fraud cases investigated by
the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Services in recent years
involved birth certificates of people born in Puerto Rico.” This left
Puerto Rico born-citizens vulnerable to identity theft, ruined credit,
stolen Social Security benefits and increased random security checks at
Recognizing such enormous risks — including homeland and national
security concerns — the government of Puerto Rico took action to enhance
the safekeeping of birth certificate data and to better protect the
public from fraud and identify theft.
Accordingly, the Vital Statistics Record Office will begin issuing new
birth certificates July 1, incorporating technology to limit the
possibility of document forgery. Moreover, the new law will invalidate
all birth certificates issued before July 1.
Does this mean that everyone will need to run out and request a new
birth certificate immediately? No, said Puerto Rico Federal Affairs
Administration officials. In fact, they recommend that only people who
have a specific need for their birth certificate for official purposes —
such as passport application — request a new document.
“Those people who want to obtain a copy of the new birth certificate for
their records are encouraged to do so at a later date to prevent an
unnecessary rush of applications,” said officials, “and to ensure those
individuals who have a specific need for the birth certificate are able
to obtain them in a timely fashion.”
For more information, visit the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs
Administration Web site at
The site has a link to the application for a new birth certificate and a
link to frequently asked questions.
Personnel in the Fort McCoy community are advised to check out the Web
site for more information.
If they need a computer, authorized personnel can go to the Community
Activity Center, building 2000, to use one of those computers.