Missing persons

Communicate with family and friends

Stay in regular contact with your family and friends at home. Before you leave, be clear about how often you will communicate with them, so that they don't have unrealistic expectations.

Leave behind a detailed itinerary (photocopies of the flight and hotel reservations) and inform your friends or family in Canada of any changes in your travel plans. If you are travelling with someone else, leave behind his or her contact information too, so that your family has an alternate means of reaching you in case of emergency. Use our Registration of Canadians Abroad service and know how to contact the nearest Canadian government office abroad.

If a Canadian citizen goes missing abroad

Stay calm and seek assistance from the professionals best placed to assist you: you should immediately report the person’s disappearance to the police (local and foreign, when possible) and advise the Emergency Watch and Response Centre. You may also want to contact the missing person's credit card companies and banks to obtain information on recent financial transactions.

Record as many of these details about the missing person as you can:

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.

Government assistance

Consular officials in Ottawa and abroad can take some measures to help locate persons travelling or living overseas and ensure they are put in touch with their families in Canada. If they succeed in contacting the missing person, consular officials will pass along the contact details of the person or persons looking for him or her, but 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 directly.

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.

After a missing person report has been filed with the local police, enforcement agencies abroad will begin to try to locate the person. To assist them, Canadian government offices abroad may verify with local authorities if there are records establishing if and when the person entered and/or departed from their country (the availability and accessibility of these records vary from country to country) and provide advice to the family on possible further action with local authorities. 

Please note that we cannot coordinate or pay for search-and-rescue efforts to locate missing Canadians.

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