A Romanian man had his bid to renew his identity papers rejected because official records said he had died more than eight years ago.

Gheorghe Stirbu, 61, a retiree, went to authorities last week to have his identity card reissued because the old one had expired.

But the clerk said he couldn't issue new papers because the office had a death certificate showing that Stirbu himself had expired on March 3, 1999, from breathing difficulties, and been buried the same month.

"When I saw it I couldn't believe it," Stirbu said Thursday. "How can someone who is fully alive be declared dead?"

Stirbu said he was not ill at the time, nor does the death certificate appear to be a case of mistaken identity.

Stirbu's daughter Iuliana Mocanu said the shock of hearing that he was officially dead could have killed him.

"At first I laughed because I though it was a joke and then I realized how serious it was," she said. "He could have had a heart attack. He didn't sleep for days when he found out the news."

Stirbu has prepared papers to prove he is still alive.

"We have had mistakes in the past," said Vasile Tarciatu, the head of bureau that issues identity papers. "But not something so serious showing someone had died."