Ways to Locate your Loved One in a Crisis Abroad

Contacting a loved one in another country during a crisis can be challenging. That crisis can cause problems with phone lines and make it difficult to make or receive calls. Here are some different ways you can try to get in touch with them:

  • Send them a text message: Sometimes, American cell phones don't work well overseas. This is especially true when there are lots of calls overwhelming the phone service. For this reason, texting may work better than calling when trying to contact a loved one overseas. However, if your loved one is in a place with Wi-Fi, their device may be able to recieve texts and calls even if they don't have local cell phone service.
  • Use social media: Check your loved one’s social media accounts to see if they have made recent posts or comments. Some social media sites let people "check in" to say where they are during a crisis. Many sites also let you send private messages. It might also be a good idea to post a public message so others who might have information can see it and respond; however, be careful not to give too much information in a public message, because identity thieves and scammers might see it and try to take advantage.
  • Contact your loved one's travel companions and close friends: They might know where your loved one is or have heard from them since the crisis. They might be able to pass a message along for you.
  • Contact their hotel, school, or the organization they are working with: Ask them to pass a message to your loved one to contact you. If your loved one is overseas for school or work, the organization they are with might have information and be able to pass a message for you. Remember that they might not be able to give you a lot of information for privacy reasons, and they might only be available during work hours.
  • Contact their tour operator: If your loved one is on a tour, try contacting the tour operator in the United States. They might not give you a lot of details for privacy reasons, but they might be able to pass a message for you.
  • Contact the Department of State: If you are in the U.S. or Canada, you can call 888-407-4747. If you are in another location, you can call +1-202-501-4444. Check travel.state.gov for more information. During a significant crisis, we may also set up a special email address and/or ask you to complete an online form to collect information faster when lots of people need help. The U.S. embassy or consulate in the affected country works with local authorities to find and help U.S. citizens in a crisis. You can find more information on the travel.state.gov page about What the Department of State Can and Can't Do in a Crisis.
  • Call the police: If you think your loved one is in danger, call the local police in the country where they are staying. Find out what the police can do to help. Each U.S. embassy and consulate has local emergency numbers on their websites. Give the police as many details as you can about your loved one and their plans.
  • Reach out to international aid organizations: They sometimes work to find people who are overseas. You can try contacting one of these organizations because they might have a network of contacts in the crisis area.

Last Updated: February 29, 2024