If you are concerned about a U.S. citizen relative or friend who is traveling or living abroad, you can call us at 1-888-407-4747. 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 can provide about the individual, the better our chances of finding him or her.
The information we can share with you about these searches is governed by the “Privacy Act.” A U.S. law called the Privacy Act protects the privacy rights of U.S. citizens. The Act states that we may not reveal information regarding a U.S. citizen’s location, welfare, intentions, or problems to anyone, including the citizen’s family members and Congressional representatives, unless we have that individual’s written consent. Although we recognize that this law may occasionally cause distress to concerned families, we must comply with the provisions of the Privacy Act. However, exceptions can be made for the health and safety of the individual and when minors are involved. A consular officer can 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’ll be in touch and whether it will be by phone or email. Make sure they leave contact information and, when possible, a copy of their itinerary. These details will also help us to try to locate them for you if it becomes necessary.