U.S. Citizens Missing Abroad

If you are concerned about a U.S. citizen relative or friend who is traveling or living abroad, you may contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, or call our Overseas Citizens Services office in Washington, D.C. at 1-888-407-4747 (from outside the United States and Canada, call 202-501-4444).

Our embassies and consulates abroad can use the information you provide to try to locate the individual and pass on your message. We can also check with local authorities in the foreign country to see if there are any reports of a U.S. citizen hospitalized, arrested, or otherwise unable to communicate with those looking for them.  The more information you provide about the individual, the better we may be able to help.

The Privacy Act of 1974(5 U.S.C. §552a) is a federal law that governs how federal agencies, including the Department of State, collect, use, disclose, and maintain certain records about U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. Such records may not be disclosed without the individual’s prior written consent unless otherwise authorized by law. In accordance with the Privacy Act, the Department protects individuals’ personal information from unauthorized disclosure. Please visit the Privacy Act and the Department of State’s systems of records thereunder, for additional information. A consular officer may explain to you how the Privacy Act might impact your specific case.

Often, U.S. citizens abroad forget – or are unable – to contact their friends and families on a regular basis due to time differences, busy schedules, lack of cell phone coverage, irregular access to email, or difficulty making international phone calls. In most cases, worried friends and family members eventually hear from the person, although it may take several days for the person to respond.

It is a good idea to discuss communication plans with friends and relatives before they travel; agree on how frequently they will be in touch and whether it will be by phone or email or SMS. Make sure they leave contact information and, when possible, a copy of their itinerary. These details will also help us to try to contact them for you, if it becomes necessary.

Last Updated: August 21, 2018