How Do You Perform an International Search for a Person?


Quick Answer

To perform an international missing person search, contact the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs, and provide them with information about the missing individual. The site Travel.state.gov offers a phone number to connect searchers with the appropriate American contacts abroad. American agencies contact foreign law enforcement agencies to aid in the search. If they locate the individual, U.S. Embassies and Consulates can pass on messages from concerned parties in the United States.

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Full Answer

U.S. Embassies and Consulates follow up on calls from concerned parties by searching foreign hospitals and prisons. They also may perform searches of hotels and airports. To help American agents search most efficiently, provide as much information as possible about the missing person. A detailed physical description, itinerary and other personal information can help U.S. agencies locate a missing person more quickly.

To search for a missing person through Interpol, enter the relevant information in the search fields on Interpol.int's Missing Persons page. To find someone who may have been involved in a natural disaster or is missing in a war zone, contact the International Commission on Missing Persons. Provide the organization with information on the missing person; in some cases, searchers may also be asked to provide DNA samples to identify a deceased family member.

The Department of State advises family members of travelers to discuss their loved ones' travel plans and to make plans to communicate ahead of time. The Department suggests that family members obtain a copy of a traveler's itinerary and contact information before the individual leaves the United States. It also advises those searching for a missing traveler that, due to the Privacy Act, it cannot reveal a missing person's location without that person's written consent.

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