Explained: How to find a lost friend or relative in Germany

Whether an old friend or family member, it's possible to reconnect with that person you lost track of a long time ago.

Explained: How to find a lost friend or relative in Germany
A happy reunion. Photo: depositphotos/belahoche

We receive many inquires from readers looking to track down an old friend or relative in Germany, sometimes from decades ago.

In some instances, this sought-after person was a German exchange student that a family lost track of – especially before the days or easy email communication or WhatsApp.

In other cases, the person might be a distant relative, or someone the reader only learned they were related to after doing genealogical research.

People still living in Germany

Maybe you have tried “modern methods” such as Google and Facebook and not received any results. You can still use the web to your advantage.

Try a Google advanced search, in which you can narrow down criteria such as the town you think they live or their maiden name.

There are also a variety of websites designed just for finding people, such as When searching, try all possible versions of their name. For example, you can search the surname Müller as Mueller or Muller.

There are also a few German-specific websites for finding old friends or keeping in touch with them such as and

Also think about turning to job platforms such as LinkedIn, which has an increasing number of German users – many Germans are skeptical about using their real names on personal social media platforms.

Theoretically it should be possible to track down permanent residents in Germany due to an extensive Meldebehörde, or registration system. However due to data protection laws, German authorities aren’t able to provide information on most people.

A person registering at their local Meldebehörde. Photo: DPA

There are exceptions in cases death or illness of a close relative, or when someone is legally prosecuted.

However, there is an extensive online telephone directory (similar to the Yellow Pages) in which you can search for individuals who might not show up on Google.

If you’re looking to find a child who was adopted, you can turn to the youth welfare office of each State (Landesjungendamt) or the local welfare office of each district (Jungendamt).

Many Americans have lived in Germany through serving with the military. The website offers a free “buddy service” finder, including a database with over 20 million records.

Trying to track down German origin

If you are trying to find out if you or your family has German origin in the first place, there are a slew of websites for doing genealogical research.

The German website, from the Verein (or Association) for Computer Genealogy provides several comprehensive resources to help you research German origin, from finding old newspaper clipping to locating burial places or relatives.

There are also state specific genealogy websites for finding family who come from Saarland, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony or Bremen, or Baden-Württemberg.

The general genealogical research websites and can also help you wade through documents and print and only resources to find family members or ancestors.

We hope this helps you with your search – if you have additional questions or tips for locating someone in Germany, you can email us at [email protected]

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Denmark’s finance minister to take ten weeks’ paternity leave

Denmark's Finance Minister, Nicolai Wammen, has announced that he will go on parental leave for ten weeks this summer, writing on Facebook that he was "looking forward to spending time with the little boy."

Denmark's finance minister to take ten weeks' paternity leave

Wammen said he would be off work between June 5th and August 13th, with Morten Bødskov, the country’s business minister standing in for him in his absence.

“On June 5th I will go on parental leave with Frederik, and I am really looking forward to spending time with the little boy,” Wammen said in the post announcing his decision, alongside a photograph of himself together with his son, who was born in November.

Denmark’s government last March brought in a new law bringing in 11 weeks’ use-it-or-lose-it parental leave for each parent in the hope of encouraging more men to take longer parental leave. Wammen is taking 9 weeks and 6 days over the summer. 

The new law means that Denmark has met the deadline for complying with an EU directive requiring member states earmark nine weeks of statutory parental leave for fathers.

This is the second time Bødskov has substituted for Wammen, with the minister standing in for him as acting Minister of Taxation between December 2020 and February 2021. 

“My parental leave with Christian was quite simply one of the best decisions in my life and I’m looking forward to having the same experience with Frederik,” Wammen wrote on Facebook in November alongside a picture of him together with his son.

Male politicians in Denmark have tended to take considerably shorter periods of parental leave than their female colleagues. 

Minister of Employment and Minister for Equality Peter Hummelgaard went on parental leave for 8 weeks and 6 days in 2021. Mattias Tesfaye took one and a half months away from his position as Denmark’s immigration minister in 2020. Troels Lund Poulsen – now acting defence minister – took three weeks away from the parliament took look after his new child in 2020. Education minister Morten Østergaard took two weeks off in 2012.