If you are looking for a person who is probably alive today:
Begin by gathering as much information as you can. Start with the basics:
- Name / nickname / maiden name / also known as
- Age and birth date
- Social security number
- City of birth
- Mother, father, sibling names
- Profession or trade
- Last known address
- High school / college attended
- Physical description
- Religious affiliation or churches joined
- Clubs or organizations joined
Contact Friends and Family To Help Gather Information
Call friends, relatives, and old employers of missing person. Next, contact any social clubs, organizations, schools, religious groups and churches where he/she may have been a member. You may find someone who has continued to keep in touch with your missing person, or you may find someone with some additional information which may give you a lead. Try telephoning friends, relatives, old employers, schools, and churches instead of sending a letter. Letters may get put aside and forgotten, or the person contacted may be hesitant to put anything in writing.
Check the following for a Social Security Number and/or date of birth - old bank statements, loan/mortgage applications, financial records. Find old yearbooks in the local library to find old address, year of graduation (age), and possible interests.
As you search, be sure to record dates and the source of information - whether the person with whom you spoke or a written source. Record every bit of information given as you never know what will turn out to be important to your search. Use this paper as a reference. In addition, always have a place to record any additional information with you so nothing gets lost or left to memory.
If you only know someone's name, you can try to find his/her street address by using online White Pages:
Enter Name, City (if known), and State (if known). If you can narrow down to a few states, try one at a time. Try searching first name, then nickname. If applicable, try searching both married name and maiden name.
Each of the following has a different database, so be sure to try each.
If you only know someone's name, you can try to contact him through Facebook:
Search by name, including maiden name for women. Many times, a woman will add her maiden name in her Facebook name.
If you know someone's previous address:
- If the previous address is less than a year old, it may be possible to locate the person if they have left a forwarding address with the US Post Office. Address a letter to the previous address with a note "Address Correction Requested - Do Not Forward" on the front of the envelope. If the post office has a forwarding address on records, they will place a correction label on the envelope and return it to you.
WhitePages Reverse Directory
- Enter the previous address to find person who lives in the house today. Many times, they will know a forwarding address
- Click on "find neighbors" on search results page, and call neighbors to see if they have forwarding address.
If you know someone's name:
- Birthday Finder to find someone's birthdate
- Missing Money - Gives Name and Address for those with state unclaimed property records. (Check to see if you have missing money while you are at it.)
If you know someone's social security number:
You don't have to know SS#, but it helps
- Public records searches. (Don't forget to search for possible surname change)
- Birth, Death, Marriage & Divorce Records
The state archives contain quite a bit of information that may be helpful in locating a person. The archives serve as the central repository for government records such as marriage and divorce information, family histories, county records, church records, newspapers, land records and many other sources of information.
UCC (Uniform Commercial Code) Records
State UCC show land and lien records. When a secured loan is obtained, a Uniform Commercial Code is filed that indicates that there is a lien. This is done on a county level and can be hand searched at the local county courthouse. The information is also forwarded to state records. Many states give access to UCC records on the internet. Information on liens on real property and other information is available.
Civil and Criminal Records
To check the possibility that the person may be deceased, you can check the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) which provides the month and year of a person's death. You can search by name or Social Security number or any combination of terms.
If you know someone's profession or trade:
North American Directory of Regulatory Boards and Colleges
The directory lists the professions and trades that have licensing or certification. It provides contact information for the US states and Canadian provinces. If the profession or trade of your missing person is licensed or certified, these records are open to the public.
- Search Professional Licenses
If you know someone is in the Military:
Give as much identifying information as possible about the person you wish to locate such as full name, rank, last duty assignment/last known military address, service number, and Social Security number. Again, the more information you have the better.
The locator service is free to immediate family members. Other family members, civilian friends, and others must pay $3.50. The check or money order must be made out to the U.S. Treasury and is not refundable.
United States Army
The Army will help you locate individuals on active duty only, not retirees. The address for the Army World Wide Locator is:
U.S. Army Enlisted Records & Evaluation Center
Fort Benjamin Harrison, IN 46249-5301
United States Navy
The Navy's locator service helps locate individuals on active duty and those whose service ended less than a year ago. In addition, the Navy will forward letters, as long as the correct postage is affixed to the envelope. You can call the locator service at 1-703-614-3155/501. Additional locator services may be found at http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/organization/npc/csc/Pages/NavyLocatorService.aspx . If you are looking for active duty personnel, you might also try the Navy/Marine Corps White Pages Directory .
Navy World Wide Locator
Navy Personnel Command
5720 Integrity Drive
Millington, TN 38055-3120
United States Marine CorpsThe Marine Corps can provide the duty station for active duty personnel and reservists. For retired individuals, the locator service can provide the city and state, but not an address. The service will provide the service member's current rank and unit address; however, the office will not forward mail (except in special cases). Telephonic requests to 1-703-640-3942/43 are free of charge to immediate family members. In addition, if the Marine locator decides the information would benefit the individual, telephonic service will be provided at no cost to any individual, business or organization. Send written locator requests to:
Commandant of the Marine Corps
Quantico, VA 22134-5030
United States Air ForceThe Air Force can locate active duty personnel, as well as retirees, reservists and guardsmen. This information is not available for those who have separated from the Air Force or are Army Air Corps retirees. Information on individuals stationed overseas or in a sensitive position will not be released. However, the locator service will forward mail to that person for up to 90 days, as long as the correct postage is on the envelope and any required fee has been paid. Parents and spouses may call 1-210-652-5774 for a recorded message or 1-210-652-5775 for non-recorded service. For locator service write to:
550 C Street, West, Suite 50
Randolph AFB, TX 78150-4752
If the person is missing due to disaster or conflict:
- Red Cross helps those separated by conflict or disaster to find information about their loved ones in order to restore contact.
If the Person May be Deceased:
Social Security's Master Death Index
The are at least five versions of the Master Death List online. Each has a different search engine which allows different search criteria.
A database of deceased persons, submitted by Coroner’s Departments, Medical Examiner’s offices and Sheriff’s departments throughout the United States, for whom next of kin has never been located.
If the Person is a Birth Relative Missing through Adoption
Adoption Registry Connect
A worldwide adoptee and birth parent search registry designed to reunite adoptees with their birth parents and siblings.