Are Driver’s License Renewals Increasing Your Requests for Birth Certificate Copies?

If you haven’t needed to renew your Texas driver’s license in a few years, you may not be aware of the documentation that you must now present to prove your U.S. citizenship or your lawful presence status. In order to comply with the REAL ID Act, Texas began asking for proof of citizenship or lawful living in 2016. Since the primary document providing such proof is a Birth Certificate, county clerks are seeing an uptick in requests for certified copies.

I’m sure you’re likely thinking, can’t I just renew my license online to avoid the awful lines at the Department of Public Safety? Well, that’s what I thought too. However, after researching the renewal guidelines, you cannot renew online or by telephone if you did not renew your license in person the last time it was renewed. If you’re unsure, you can start the renewal process online by providing your driver’s license number, date of birth, audit number and last 4 of your social security number. The system will tell you whether you’re eligible to renew online or only eligible for replacement or change of address. If you’re one of lucky people who has to visit in person, be prepared for a decent wait and for several required documents.

Per the guidelines on https://www.dps.texas.gov/DriverLicense/index.htm:

“To reduce the risk of identity theft, enhance security and protect the integrity of the licensing process, individuals must present one document from the appropriate category below to verify their U.S. citizenship or lawful presence status.

When at the driver license office, the Customer Service Representative (CSR) will verify the period of lawful presence with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). A driver license or ID card cannot be issued until the period of lawful presence is verified by DHS. If the CSR is unable to immediately verify the information electronically, an additional verification is initiated and the individual will be given instructions on what to do next.”

What does this mean? It sounds like it would be an excellent idea to have a certified copy of your birth certificate with you, just in case the DHS system cannot verify your eligibility.

Since DPS issued 3.5 million drivers licenses and 603,000 IDs in the last budget year (https://www.texastribune.org/2019/01/28/texas-lawmakers-seek-solution-long-waits-driver-licenses/) you can imagine there are several million Texas residents in need of renewal in the upcoming year and beyond who have not previously been required to provide citizenship proof. They will all need either valid passports or certified copies of their birth certificates, many of whom were born here in the great state of Texas!

So how can you decrease the amount of time it takes to locate these records and help alleviate some of the frustration that your constituents will inevitably experience while waiting in line at the DPS office? Our solution friendly Data Preservation Solutions office (DPS for short, but the “good DPS”) can assist with scanning and indexing your birth certificate records so they’re quickly located and provided as proof to your anxious requestors. If all of your records are still in paper format, it would be the most beneficial to start with the most recent (since those will be your active drivers) and anything beyond will just be icing on the genealogy research cake.

If you’re ready to speed up your Birth Certificate research process, contact us today. And if you have an upcoming driver’s license renewal, it’s probably best not to wait until the last minute.

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