Missing persons

Crowd of people walking. © Ken Usami/Getty ImagesIf you suspect a relative of friend has gone missing abroad you should contact us on 020 7008 1500 and ask for Consular Directorate. You will need to tell us the country where you think they have gone missing.

We can only help in cases where regular contact has been unexpectedly lost.

We can NOT help if you wish to trace someone you lost contact with a long time ago.

You should try to provide as much information about the missing person as you can, such as:

  • name, date and place of birth
  • the last time and place contact was made
  • their travel itinerary and where you think they may be
  • mobile phone number and/ or email address
  • passport and insurance details
  • recent photo

If you are abroad, use the search facility to the right to find the nearest British Embassy.

If you are in the UK you should contact your local police force and ask them to inform the UK National Centre Bureau of Interpol, who will liaise with the relevant foreign police.

Please be aware that responsibility for conducting searches overseas rests with the local police force. UK police will assist with enquiries but it is rare they will become actively involved in the case.

What we can do to help:

  • check our records to see if the missing person has come to our attention.  The Data Protection Act 1988 may prevent us from releasing certain information
  • liaise with the local authorities and will keep you informed of our progress
  • pass onto the appropriate UK authorities any requests from host governments for help in mounting a  search, rescue and recovery operation
  • provide you with details of any local organisations specialising in tracing missing persons
  • provide contact details for local private detectives.  However we cannot guarantee the professional ability of any person or company
  • we will appoint a caseworker in London with whom you can liaise
  • our embassy staff can arrange to meet you should you decide to travel abroad to search yourself
  • we may be able to facilitate press or TV appeals in the relevant country
  • provide information on local printing companies, should you wish to initiate a poster and leaflet campaign. We can advise on suitable poster locations

What we can’t do:

  • conduct physical searches on your behalf.
  • provide financial assistance for rescue operations of people missing in remote areas
  • pay for the repatriation of a body
  • control media coverage of the case.

We never release information that is not in the public domain. But you should be aware that the media may be persistent in obtaining background information on the missing person.

What you can do:

Consider the following when trying to trace a missing person:

  • when and why were you expecting contact from them?
  • was there anything in their last communication with you that might suggest where they are now or why they might not have been in touch?
  • you may wish to contact the family of any travelling companions, or other people with whom the missing person might have been in contact whilst abroad
  • the missing person’s bank or building society may be able to tell you when and from where their account was last accessed.  The bank may require official police intervention before they agree to give you this information
  • in some countries it may be possible to offer a reward for information.  Consider the implications of this and contact an organisation that has experience of tracing missing persons
  • consider what you would be able to achieve by travelling to the country yourself. Local authorities may be reluctant to pass on information

You may wish to identify a personal item of the missing person.  A toothbrush, hairbrush or razor could provide a DNA profile.

Useful contacts

Consular Assistance:
020 7008 1500

Useful Links

National Missing Persons Helpline: UK: 0500 700 700, Outside of UK:0044 (0) 20 8392  

The Committee for Missing Children: A US based advocacy group for the parents of missing children

Look4Them: An umbrella website for missing persons support organisations

The Salvation Army and the British Red Cross both offer tracing services

Related Documents

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