How to report a person missing

If a family member or friend is missing (their whereabouts are unknown) and you hold serious fears for their safety and welfare, contact your local police immediately to report them missing. You do not have to wait 24 hours to report someone as missing.

Contact your local police station.

What to do if you lose contact with a family member

There is a difference between a missing person and a lost contact case - police do not deal with the latter. There are a number of reasons why people lose touch with each other, such as moving house or family conflict, and it is understandable that they seek to reconnect. However, if there is no indication of vulnerability or concern for safety then this is considered to be a tracing matter. Police do not provide a family tracing service, nor are they able to help with people who have lost contact with friends or family over time.

For general person-tracing services look for private investigators in your local telephone directory or on the Internet.

The Salvation Army in New Zealand and Australia provides a tracing service for people you wish to trace or have lost contact with.
Visit the Salvation Army Family Tracing Service website.

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Report a person missing in New Zealand

Filing a missing persons report in New Zealand

A full missing person report must be filed at a police station – it cannot be done by phone or email.

To help Police, you should provide the following information when filing your report:

  • the missing person's full name and date of birth
  • details of where and when the missing person was last seen or heard from
  • a full physical description of the missing person, including clothing worn when they were last seen and any distinguishing features
  • a recent photograph of the missing person
  • names and contact details of friends and associates
  • any places the missing person may visit
  • any relevant medical information or medication needed
  • details of any bank accounts and credit cards the missing person may be using
  • the missing person's telephone number, cell phone number and email addresses, including social networking sites they access, such as Facebook and Bebo
  • any known travel plans or destinations
  • details of any people in the company of the missing person.
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What happens after filing a missing person report

  • The report will be entered into the Police National Missing Person database. The case will be assigned to an officer who will work with you and inform you of any progress being made.

Filing a missing person report from outside New Zealand

If you are outside New Zealand and want to report someone missing in New Zealand, you will need to do so in person to your local police. Make sure you provide the information listed above.

Reports of this nature need to be made in person so that the identity of the person making the report, and the reasons for locating the missing person, can be verified.

  • If the above requirements are satisfied, the report and subsequent request to locate the person will be forwarded through the appropriate Interpol Bureau for actioning.

New Zealanders missing overseas

Make intitial enquiries about the missing person

If you have concerns for a New Zealand citizen's whereabouts overseas you should make enquiries to:

  • establish contact with family, friends and travelling companions to find out if anyone has had any contact with, or has heard from, the missing person
  • seek information about the missing person's possible movements by contacting
    • the missing person's last known address
    • the missing person's employer.

If the missing person is not located after initial enquiries, and you have serious concerns for them, contact your local police or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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Filing a missing person report with local Police in New Zealand

Contact your local police station to file a report if you have a family member or friend missing overseas and you hold serious fears for their safety. The report will be entered into the Police National Missing Person database and the case will be assigned to an officer who will work with you and inform you of any progress being made. This officer will remain your point of contact. The report will be lodged with Interpol by the New Zealand Police Missing Person Unit. It is a first step in facilitating international cooperation in investigating the whereabouts of the missing person.

Contact your local police station.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

If you have concerns for the missing person's safety overseas and all avenues of enquiry have been exhausted, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade may try to locate the missing person through their network of overseas posts and links with foreign missions by:

  • following up on contact details you may have
  • posting messages in the public areas of overseas offices requesting the person to make contact with staff
  • checking the Register of New Zealand Citizens at the appropriate post
  • checking with immigration authorities, Police, major hotels, guest houses, hostels, hospitals and other likely places (where this is feasible under the local law).

Visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.