No Valid ID for my 90-something Grandparents- HELP!

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I saw some old threads with this issue but am looking for additional advice. My grandparents (93 and 95) don't have any valid form of photo ID or proof of birth. My grandfather has an expired drivers license which won't be accepted as proof of birth or ID in NY. We can cobble together proof of identity based on utility bills, bank statements, tax returns, etc., but aren't able to find ANY documents with proof of birth (a requirement). They have no birth certificates--only baptism records. Complicating things further, neither of them use their given names (Vincenzo and Giovannina). I thought to try to request a search for their birth certificates from the Vital Records Office, but they may come back with names that don't match the names on all their other proofs of identity (bills, tax forms, etc.)!

They can normally get away with showing a medicare card, an expired ID, or Union member card for MD appointments and other mundane needs, however having zero form of valid gov't-issued ID seems irresponsible. My grandfather needed to have a pension form notarized to prove he was still alive and the banker only did it for him since he is a longtime customer....getting scary.

Anybody have any suggestions of how we can get things worked out to prove these people are who they have been for the past century (give or take)?

Answers 1 to 10 of 10
Top Answer
Maybe a place to start. Call your vital records department at the county or state level. Ask which documents you would need in order to create a bc for your parents. The baptismal records are good. Perhaps your parents have social security cards. Your birth certificate might even help as it would show their names as well. I’m sure there is a list of documents that they might accept. Perhaps affidavits from people who have known them a long time. I know my FIL bc was made from his baptismal records. Things are a lot tighter now due to homeland security.
Call the DMV and they have this home bound senior service where they will come and take the picture and fill out paper work at home. The wait list can be long, but it might be worth looking into.
I had to pay for gurney transport for my Moms ID card, and I made an appointment so no waiting. She didn't need any paperwork, just her social and old ID card number.
My 89-year-old mother passed away in April. She never had a government ID either. Never. She never drove so she never had a driver's license. Mom's problem was her mother did not include Mom's first name on Mom's birth certificate, so the family legend was no agency would accept her birth certificate.

Mom's favorite aunt had passed away a couple years ago, and about six months ago, my great-aunt's caregiver sent a box to Mom. In it was a corrected birth certificate that included Mom's first name! There was her baptism record and a couple affidavits from long-time friends. I thought, "How cool. I'll take her for her first government ID card!" That thought didn't last long as Mom was extremely hard to take out of the house, then having to wait in line at the DMV? Uh, no.

Anyway, 97yroldmom's advise is great about calling the agencies first and present the problem as well as other documents that support that she was your mother. Let them tell you what documents they'll accept. I'm sure they hear it all the time, and may be able to give you suggestions too. Good luck.
I had a similar problem when my mother gathered all her and my dad’s important papers and hid everything. I went online and ordered new birth certificates, driver’s license, Medicare cards, you name it.

You’d look for your state government websites. You ought to be able to find instructions to do what you need. There should be a telephone number if you need to talk to a human about those pretty names and your problem with them.

The baptism certificates? Would the church keep records?

It took me a week to get everything on it’s way to my dad through the USPS.
Do they have passports? Even an expired one is proof of citizenship.
My late mom & aunt were twins without any birth records. In order to get a passport, my mother had to find a witness to her birth in this country. She used her twin, who was 15 minutes older. This doesn’t help the poster with this issue, but it’s such a novel story that gets a smile from folks, I thought I’d share it here.
go to for any birth records. if they are available, they will have them. you can get them overnited if needed. hope this helps, Bobby
What are you needing the ID for, or this because you want to be prepared if asked?

Many people are known by names that are not the one on their birth certificate. Often different prices of govt I’d will have different names. My Uncle Bill has the name Bill, not William on his drivers license.

My step Mum is known by 3 different names, the most common one is a Nickname. My mother is called a different name than the one on her birth certificate too, but it has not been an issue.

Thinking it over most the people I know over 80 do not use their birth name. It should not be too complicated to work out.

I have a cousin in law who has a credit card issued in her first married name. She remarried 47 years ago, but never got around to changing the name on the card.
My parents were both born in the 1920’s at home in NYC and just assumed that they did not have birth certificates. Turns out the midwife filled out a card which was available through New York State and both of them did have a valid birth certificate. They have a website you can use to get copies.
In Michigan after a lot of phone calls and research, I found out that there was a non-publicized program that allowed me request an official state ID from my 97-year-old Dad's expired driver's license. It had to go through an unpublicized disabilities office. If I can remember, I had phoned my Dad's state rep, explaining that Dad was unable to "travel" to a Secretary of State. They used the photo from his expired license. It took about two months total time. I love that someone here mentioned what a blessing it is to know someone from so long ago that these things didn't matter!

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