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Searching for People

Frequently Asked Questions

Searching for People

Tracing people in the United States can be a lengthy and time consuming process. Many records, such as those held by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, are protected by the Privacy Act and cannot be given to third parties. However, the Internet has made many other resources much more freely accessible.

For information relating specifically to locating military personnel in the U.S. see Tracing Former Military Personnel in the U.S.


One of the quickest and easiest ways of establishing contact with an individual is via their telephone listing. However, it is worth remembering that many private individuals in the U.S. choose to be ex-directory.

  • American Directory Assistance offers a people finder and a reverse phone number search engine where one you can look up a name based upon a ten-digit number.
  • Switchboard is one of the most extensive directories on the internet. Its search engine lets you find people, businesses, web sites and e-mail addresses as well as offers a free internet account to its users.
  • Yahoo! People Search
  • The Ultimates Collection of people search engines.

Media Sources

It may be worthwhile contacting newspapers or local radio stations in the area where the missing person was last known to live. Radio stations can be located via Radio-Locator (formerly the MIT List of Radio Stations on the Internet).

Vital Records/Public Databases/Veterans

There is no central repository (burgerlijke stand) of birth, death and marriage records in the United States. These records are filed at state level and, in some cases, at an even more local level. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has produced Where to Write for Vital Records, a useful guide to these sources.

Humanitarian Organizations

The following organizations may be able to assist in cases of sufficiently compelling humanitarian need, and where the missing person is a close relative: