Even though the new digital age eliminates the need to print paper in a multitude of situations, keeping hard copies of important documents is still essential. In grad school, we were instructed to start keeping copies (both hard and electronic) of every single course syllabus, transcript, certification, and logged training hours of any sort. It’s not a bad idea to apply this rule to general life documents as well (birth certificates, Social Security card, marriage certificate, divorce papers, etc.).
If you’ve misplaced an important document, there are ways to get a new copy. If you’ve lost your birth certificate, you can contact the vital records of the state where you were born in. This contact information can be found at www.cdc.gov/nchs/w2w.htm. If you were born outside of the U.S. but you are a citizen, a new copy can be accessed through the U.S. State Department at travel.state.gov by searching “CRBA” (Consular Report of Birth Abroad). If you’ve lost your marriage records you can contact the state’s vital records office and the city in which you were married.When in doubt, always have a hard copy backup.