Effective July 1, all Puerto Rican birth certificates will be invalidated as part of a sweeping move by the U.S. commonwealth to combat fraud. That means the 4.1 million people of Puerto Rican descent in the U.S. will need of new proofs of birth and may approach Notaries to assist them in obtaining such documentation. Federal and Puerto Rican officials warn there will be a wave of attempts to commit fraud amid the confusion, as Puerto Rican birth certificates are in high demand on the black market for those seeking to obtain unlawful passports, driver’s licenses and other government benefits.
The Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA) reports that they took this aggressive action because many Puerto Rican businesses improperly asked for certified copies of birth certificates for common transactions, and then stored the copies in unsecured areas. Many were stolen and sold for use in creating fake IDs. Approximately 40 percent of passport cases investigated by the U.S. Department of State in recent years have involved fraudulent use of Puerto Rican birth certificates. More information about the Puerto Rico law and where to obtain a lawful certified copy of a Puerto Rican birth certificate can be found at the PRFAA Web site.
Notaries approached with a request to help obtain proof of birth in Puerto Rico should keep in mind that they have no power to “certify” vital records such as birth documents.