What can I do?
Unexpectedly losing contact with a family member or friend who is travelling overseas can be very distressing. Fortunately, most Australians are found safe and well.
First, try to contact the person though various channels, including phone, email, SMS, social media, and through their friends and travelling companions. If unsuccessful, gather as much information as you can about their recent activities. This may include contacting their place of accommodation, financial institution, mobile phone provider, airline, tour company and employer.
More information: Someone is missing overseas
It is important to keep a record of all the information you gather so you can provide comprehensive details, if required, to others assisting to locate the person.
If, after making initial enquiries, you're still unable to locate your loved one or friend and have serious concerns for their safety or welfare, contact your local state or territory police station to submit a missing persons report. Depending on the information you provide, your local police will determine if it's necessary to lodge a missing persons report with us.
What happens next?
We will only pursue enquiries that are based on a serious concern for the welfare of an Australian overseas and a belief that the person concerned needs consular assistance.
If we assess that the missing person overseas needs consular assistance, we will:
- conduct enquiries using Australian embassies, high commissions and consulates to try to locate the whereabouts of the missing person
- contact and provide information to you on any developments where permitted
Privacy provisions in foreign countries can severely restrict the information provided to us by local law enforcement agencies.
If the missing person contacts you
If the missing person contacts you after you have commenced formal enquiries, please immediately contact the nearest Australian embassy, high commission or consulate, or the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 to let us know. You should also contact your local police.
Australian privacy laws
Unless consular officials receive the person's consent, they are unable to disclose personal information about them, even to their family or friends, unless this is required by the police, Australian law or a judgment is made by consular officers that the life or health of the person or another person is being threatened.
This means that if we locate the missing person but they do not want their friends and family to be informed, we may be unable to tell you.
Who else can help me?
Depending on the circumstances, there are several other organisations that may be able to help you search for a missing person overseas.
National Missing Persons Coordination Centre
The National Missing Persons Coordination Centre (NMPCC) is located with the Australian Federal Police in Canberra. The centre works with state and territory police services and government and non-government organisations to provide a coordinated approach to locating missing people in Australia and overseas. The centre's role is to facilitate the dissemination and distribution of information to the public via the NMPCC website. Only cases of missing persons that have a signed authority from the next of kin for the use of images and information are provided by state and territory police to the NMPCC.
More information: NMPCC or call 1800 000 634 (toll free)
Australian Red Cross
The International Red Cross/Red Crescent global Restoring Family Links network reaches out to more than 190 countries to re-establish contact between people who are separated by war, conflict, disaster or migration. The service is free of charge, confidential and available to anyone in Australia.
You can contact the Australian Red Cross Restoring Family Links service on 03 9345 1800. The national hotline is available during business hours Monday to Friday on 1800 875 199 (free call from all Australian landlines).
More information: Australian Red Cross
International Social Service
The International Social Service traces immediate family members in conjunction with its social work across 150 countries. It requests a contribution towards costs for this work.
More information: International Social Service