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Missing persons - help and support

People go missing for different reasons and it may be necessary to act with sensitivity when trying to get back in touch. You can find out information about missing people from electoral registers and indexes for births, marriages and deaths. You can also get help from dedicated charities.

Checking electoral registers

If you know the last address of of your missing relative, you can try searching the relevant electoral register. You can find out more on the the Electoral Office of Northern Ireland website. The registers may help you to find out how long a person lived at a particular address.

If you can’t find a family member on the register, this could mean that they have moved home, married or died. The General Register Office for Northern Ireland (GRONI) records all births, marriages, deaths, civil partnerships and adoptions in Northern Ireland. You can find out more about GRONI records and conducting a search on the following nidirect page:

Other bodies may also have information which could help. For example, there is a 'tracing missing persons' section on the National Archives website.

It’s also a good idea to check for possible name changes. Nowadays most name changes are done by deed poll, using a solicitor, and no centralised records are kept.

If the change of name was enrolled in the Royal Courts of Justice, then you might get information about name changes enrolled within the last five years from the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

Enrolled changes of name over five years old are held by The National Archives.

Using a tracing service

Many organisations and businesses offer to trace missing people for you on the internet. Some websites offer to carry out research for a fee, but you should check that the service is run by people who are experienced in this kind of investigation.

Online help for missing people and their families

Missing People (formerly the National Missing Persons Helpline) is a charity dedicated to helping missing people and supporting their families. You can access:

  • a national 24 hour helpline for people who are missing someone
  • a confidential national computerised register of missing people
  • advice, guidance and practical help to families of missing people
  • a 24 hour confidential helpline for people who have left home and wish to get in contact
  • profiles of missing people

You can contact the 24 hour confidential freephone helpline on:

  • Freephone 116 000
  • Text 116 000

Missing People also produces and circulates posters of missing people and generates publicity by making appeals through the internet, TV, newspapers and magazines. In addition, it has a range of resources and guidance surrounding the legal and financial repercussions of having a family member go missing.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) also has a missing persons section on its website. There is also a similar section on the website of the Garda Siochana.

Runaway Helpline is dedicated to children and young people under the age of 18 who have run away from home or care, or who have been forced to leave home.

You can phone them on 080 8800 7070 and get advice and information to support and enable you to make a decision about what you want to do next.

The Salvation Army Family Tracing Service helps to find relatives over the age of 18. You can contact them on 0845 634 4747.

The NPIA Missing Persons Bureau (MPB) helps the police in their missing people investigations by maintaining records of missing and unidentified people. If you are missing and want your family to know you are safe but don’t want them to know where you are, you can contact the Missing Persons Bureau. The MPB also manages and co-ordinates the Child Rescue Alert service and the Missing Kids website, designed to assist missing children investigations.  

The Missing Irish People website may help you help find a missing Irish person. Or, if you wish to call home, have information about a missing person, or are concerned about a missing friend or relative, then details are available on the site.

'Cyndi’s List' provides links to a large number of other sites concerned with locating missing people.

'Missing You' allows you to post a message on the site and read others.  

The ‘look4them’ website provides a service by eight UK organisations involved in tracing missing persons.

More useful links...