If a close person goes missing
The search for missing persons is initiated immediately if the missing person is a child, elderly person, or unable to care for themselves or when conditions so require.
First determine that the missing person has not gone to visit relatives or friends. If he/she has gone missing previously, check the place at which the person was found at that time.
Search for the missing person in the surrounding area. If possible, ask your relatives and friends to help in the search. Contact the closest hospital or health station and find out if the missing person has gone there or been taken there. You have the right to receive information on a person if you have been appointed their next of kin.
If your search does not produce results, submit an official missing persons report at your closest police station during office hours. Take a recent photograph of the missing person with you. Tell the police, in as much detail as possible, where you have already searched.
Call 112 if someone has gone missing who cannot look after him/herself and you suspect that their life is at risk. This may well be the case if the missing person is, for example, a child or an elderly person, or someone who is ill or disabled. If you have a hearing or speech impairment and you are a pre-registered sender of emergency text messages, send a message to 112.
Give the emergency response centre a precise description of the missing person, such as their name, appearance, height, hair colour, distinguishing features and the clothing they were last seen wearing.
If the missing person you are close to is found or he/she returns home, notify the authorities you have reported the missing person to immediately i.e. the police or the emergency response centre.
Authorities will begin the search if there is reasonable cause to believe the missing person's life is in danger, they have been in an accident or are the victim of violence. The search will be initiated immediately if the missing person is a child, elderly person, or is unable to care for themselves due to an illness.
If weather conditions are difficult or could prove dangerous for the missing person, an urgent search is put under way.
The police are responsible for all inland and inland water system searches. The border guard is responsible for searches in sea areas and along the borders. The police will often utilise the services of the Voluntary Rescue Service (Vapepa).
The police can require that every adult who is capable doing so, takes part in a search for a missing person whose life is in danger.
A person, who has been missing for a long time, often has affairs that need to be seen to. In this case, you may submit a notification that the person in question is in need of a trustee. When needed, the Local Register Office will submit an application to the district court to appoint a trustee for the missing person. Someone who is close to the missing person may submit an application directly to the district court.
The court will determine the powers entrusted to the trustee. As a rule, a trustee is tasked with seeing to their client's i.e. the missing person's property and other financial affairs. He/she can terminate contracts, see to the payment of bills and maintain contact with creditors.
The court will charge a fee for processing the matter of appointing a trustee. The Local Register Office will also charge a fee for submitting an application to the district court. The trustee will have the right to receive reasonable compensation and travel expenses, which are paid from the client's i.e. the missing person's finances.
If the missing person is found alive, the district court or the register office can request to terminate the trustee's task.
The trustee's task ends if the missing person is found dead or he/she is declared dead.
Declaring someone dead refers to a decision by the court of the Local Register Office that the missing person must be believed to be dead.
People who are close to the missing person, can apply for the missing person to be declared dead after a waiting period. The waiting period before declaring someone dead is usually five years from the time the missing person was last thought to be alive. However, the waiting period is only one year, if the conditions surrounding the person's disappearance are such that it is very likely that the missing person has died.
The application can be submitted immediately after the person went missing without a waiting period, if the missing person was in an accident that was directly life threatening and there is no reason to believe he/she survived.
The application regarding declaration of death is submitted to a court. As a rule, the matter will be heard by the district court in whose jurisdiction the municipality in which the missing person last resided is located.
However, close persons are not obligated to apply for the missing person to be declared dead. A person can also be declared dead at the initiative of the Local Register Office when hundred years has passed from the end of the calendar year during which the missing person was born and five years has passed from the end of the calendar year during which the missing person was last believed to be alive.