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Reporting a missing person

Reporting a missing person

The police are responsible for searching for missing persons on land and in inland waters, whereas the Frontier Guard conducts searches at sea.

A search for a missing person will begin if there is reason to believe that the person's

  • life or health is in danger
  • the person has had an accident
  • has become the victim of a crime.

A search and rescue mission will begin without delay if the missing person is

  • a child, 
  • an elderly person 
  • a person with a disease that makes them incapable of caring for themselves. 

Before you file a missing person report, make sure that the person is not staying with friends or relatives, or spending time at their summer house or another similar location. If the person has gone missing before, check the places where they were found.

Also check the vicinity of the person's home and call local hospitals and health centres, although they may refuse to give information on the grounds of patient confidentiality.

What to do when someone is missing?

If you suspect that the missing person has become the victim of a crime, their life is at risk or they are incapable of taking care of themselves (a child, an elderly person, a sick person), you must call the emergency number 112.

  • Inform the police of the scope and coverage of the rescue efforts already made. Avoid disturbing any traces in the area in which the person was last seen.
  • In most cases, the police are assisted by the voluntary rescue service (vapepa) organisation, which consists of trained volunteers. The service is run by member organisations and its operations are coordinated by the Finnish Red Cross.
  • If, despite an immediate search, the person remains missing, file an official missing person report at the local police station. Bring the most recent photograph of the missing person you can find. The police will need the personal information and description of the missing person, and information on any vehicle they may have used. It will assist the search if the police are informed of the background and illnesses of the missing person, their state of mind, plans, phones and financial and other available resources.
  • If the missing person is found or returns home, inform the police of this immediately. Report finding a missing person in the same way you reported the missing person: by filing a report at the police station or by calling the emergency number.

Information to help identify the missing person:

  • personal information: name, personal identity code, address and telephone number
  • age and description: age, height, weight and build; hair colour, hair length and style, balding; eye colour, glasses, any special identifying marks (prosthesis, hearing aid, a missing limb, other disability, tattoos, a limp or other distinctive characteristic)
  • clothing: type, brand name and colour of clothing, any rips, tears or patches in clothing, footwear, bags, backpacks or briefcases
  • means of transport: make, colour and model of bicycle; make, colour, model and registration number of moped or motorcycle; make, colour, model and registration number of a car, and any additional details of the vehicle (year, special features); in the case of a boat, the model, registration number and any distinguishing marks.

Further information about an elderly person’s disappearance on the Police’s website