Avoid becoming a missing person abroad
Stay in frequent contact with your family and friends at home.
Leave behind a detailed itinerary and inform your friends or family in Canada of any changes in your travel plans. Use our Registration of Canadians Abroad service and know how to contact the nearest Canadian government office abroad.
If a loved one goes missing abroad
Stay calm and seek assistance from the appropriate professionals. You should immediately report the person’s disappearance to the police (local and foreign) and advise the Canadian Consular Services. You may also want to initiate inquiries with credit card companies and banks to obtain information on the missing person’s recent financial transactions.
Record as many of these details about the missing person as you can:
- Full name, including all alternative spellings and arrangements of the family name
- Date of birth
- Place of birth
- Nationality, including legal status in Canada (i.e., citizen, permanent resident, student)
- Passport number
- Weight (specify date)
- Eye colour
- Hair colour (keep hair strands for DNA testing)
- Most recent photograph
- Blood type
- Identifying features (marks, scars, glasses, tattoos, etc.)
- Medical information
- Fingerprints or dental records
The International Committee of the Red Cross provides a list of tracing offices of recognized Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies for most countries. These societies provide useful services to help locate missing persons.
Consular officials in Ottawa and abroad can take measures to help locate persons travelling or living overseas and ensure they are put in touch with their families in Canada. Please note that we cannot coordinate or pay for search-and-rescue efforts to locate missing Canadians.
If someone is simply out of touch, the nearest Canadian government office abroad will ask local officials to help locate the person. However, if someone cannot be located, and there are concerns about his or her well-being, the family will be asked to file a missing person report with the appropriate Canadian police force, which will then use Interpol channels to request the cooperation of foreign police.
Canadian government offices abroad may also:
- check with local authorities to establish if and when the person entered and/or departed from their country, if possible (the availability and accessibility of these records vary from country to country);
- contact others in the country, including Canadians and foreigners travelling in the same area, to obtain information; and
- provide advice to the family on possible further actions with local authorities.
If the missing person is found, we may be unable to reveal his or her whereabouts due to privacy considerations. It is up to the missing person to contact his or her family.