I’ve recently gotten requests from people looking for loved ones who seem to have fallen from the face of the earth.
One day, they were students at some University here in Germany or they were raising a family and now five, ten, twenty years later, the family in Kenya is not sure whether their relative is still alive. Some sit and hope their loved ones finally get in touch, while some take the initiative to find them before they see their picture circulating online.
Are you looking for:
- a relative that moved to Germany and broke contact with the family in Kenya?
- a parent, you learnt about later in life that you’d like to meet?
- a former lover you’d like to inform you got pregnant and may be get child support?
- a former lover you suspect might have gotten pregnant after your last visit and you would like to be part of the child’s life?
- someone you lent money to and they disappeared before they could pay you back?
How do you trace someone in Germany?
Luckily, Germany has a law (Meldepflicht) requiring everyone living in the country to register at their local council (Einwohnermeldeamt). This law was further strengthened this year by requiring people to present a rental contract, title deed or a letter from the title deed holder confirming that the person actually lives at that address. This then reduces the probability of anyone registering at an address they don’t live at.
Let’s start with the easy ones:
Thank God for Google, company webpages and all the online Yellow Pages. Just enter the person’s name on Google and hopefully you find their address and at least a phone number. Smaller companies usually have a page listing their employees and some times list an email address the person can be reached under.
If the person you are looking for worked at the University e.g. as a doctorate student/PhD candidate, most departments have a page listing their current and former doctorate students.
If the person owned a business, then probably the company’s address and phone number are still listed online.
PS: When you register for a phone number in Germany, your name and phone number are automatically listed in the phone book (unless you state otherwise). With most phone books digitizing their books, most names end up listed online with your number.
Search for them on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, if you have their phone number, try Tango, Viber and/or Whatsapp. Check mutual friends.
Contact a trusted blog and request them to post the search with a picture and details on the person: name, last known address etc.
Remember the guy who was looking for his Kenyan mother 40 years after she returned to Kenya? RTL has a show Vermisst that can help trace people, this does however take sometime and is very public, so if you wish to keep the search private, this might not be a great idea.
Now to the complex one, but definitely the most effective especially if you do not wish to go public with the appeal.
The Meldepflicht means that everyone living legally in Germany is registered at the Einwohnermeldeamt, fortunately all Einwohnermeldeämter in Germany are interconnected, thus when you register at a new address, the old address is automatically removed from your profile (not unless you register the new address as your second home address).
Visit or call the local Einwohnermeldeamt and request for a “Adressermittlung“. Visiting the Einwohnermeldeamt is definitely better than calling. The more information you can provide the better from the person’s full name, former address, date of birth (this is a huge deal in Germany, you can find a hundred people that share a name in the same city but it’s very rare to find people with the same description that share the exact same date of birth).
This service costs between 4.50 and 20 euros depending on the Bundesland