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]

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Danish agency criticised for failure to collect child support debts from abroad

Denmark’s parliamentary ombudsman has criticised the Danish Debt Collection Agency (Gældsstyrelsen) for failing to prioritise debts related to child support payments from persons who reside abroad.

Danish agency criticised for failure to collect child support debts from abroad

The child support payment, børne- og underholdsbidrag or more commonly børnebidrag in Danish, must generally be paid by one parent of a child to the other of the other if they do not live together.

But the Debt Collection Agency has done too little to collect payments of the contribution from abroad, the Ombudsman said in a press statement on Tuesday.

“Collection of child support contributions are of major importance for the financial circumstances in many homes,” ombudsman Niels Fenger said in the statement.

“It is therefore criticisable that the agency has, for almost five years, generally not promoted the collection of these contributions,” the watchdog added.

According to the Danish Debt Collection Agency, some 12,500 persons outside of Denmark have outstanding debts related to the child payments, totalling 2.3 billion kroner.

Collection of the money has been complicated by a lack of procedures in the area, the agency said.

Instead of sending requests to authorities in the relevant countries for collection of the debt, the Danish Debt Collection Agency has prioritised assisting foreign authorities in collecting debts outstanding in Denmark, it told the Ombudsman.

It also said that it would now prioritise collecting the Danish debts, and would produce a plan for the work.

This plan will be shared with the Ombudsman when it is completed later this year.

A large amount of debt is tied up in an old system, DMI, which does not allow wage deductions as a method of collection. A new system, PRSM, does enable this.

The agency is therefore working to transfer many of the debts from the old system to the new one, it reported to the Ombudsman.

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