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WASHINGTON (Army News Service, June 30, 2010) The government of Puerto Rico on Monday extended the validity of current birth certificates until Sept. 30, giving U.S. citizens born on the island more time to apply for and receive the new, security-enhanced certificates.
"Our goal with the three-month extension is to provide a smooth transition, especially to assist Puerto Ricans born [on] the island who currently reside stateside, as they apply for the new, more secure birth certificates," Nicole Guillemard, executive director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, said in a press release.
New birth certificates will begin being issued July 1 as planned, according to the PRFAA. After the Sept. 30 deadline, all previous birth certificates will be invalid.
The change in law came after law enforcement uncovered a criminal ring which had stolen thousands of Puerto Rican birth certificates from schools and were selling them on the black market for as much as $10,000. This is a concern for the Department of Homeland Security, as any person possessing a birth certificate from Puerto Rico can obtain U.S. passports, Social Security benefits and other federal services.
According to the U.S. State Department, as much as 40 percent of identity theft in America involves Puerto Rican birth certificates.
Soldiers and their families of Puerto Rican decent will be required to apply for new birth certificates, but benefits enrolled for with old certificates will still be valid.
For example, after July 1, Defense Eligibility Enrollment System offices will only be accepting new birth certificates for initial family enrollment; however, those who originally used an old Puerto Rican birth certificate to enroll will not be dropped from DEERS.
Servicemembers not needing a new birth certificate for immediate official purposes are encouraged to delay in applying to avoid the initial rush of applicants, underscored Guillemard.
Puerto-Rican born citizens can apply for the new certificates, which will be issued through the Puerto Rico Health Department's Vital Statistics office, either via mail or online at https://serviciosenlinea.gobierno.pr/SALUD/Login.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2fsalud%2f.
The online application can be completed in English or Spanish, and applicants will be required to upload necessary identification documents, such as a copy of a driver's license or U.S. passport. The $5 issuance fee is waived for military veterans with a valid DD-214.
According to the Army's Human Resources Command, about 7,500 active-duty Soldiers are of Puerto Rican descent. The Army Reserve has 44 units housed in 12 facilities and more than 4,000 personnel on the island while the Army National Guard reports more than 7,000 Soldiers living in Puerto Rico.