Find a Person in the UK

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Thanks to the Public Records Act 1967 and the Freedom of Information Act 2005, it is now easier than ever to find a person in the UK. The term ‘people search’ is widely used to refer to any public record search for the purposes of:

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  • Locating a specific person
  • Finding information relating to a specific person (e.g. telephone number or address)

Whether you are hoping to reconnect with a childhood friend or simply find somebody’s current phone number, the information is out there. You just need to know how to find it.

What Information is Publicly Available In The UK?

The National Archives, local governments and various semi-private institutions hold a wealth of information on British citizens, which you have a right to access. This includes records of registered births, deaths and marriages, current and previous addresses, telephone numbers, current and previous employers, and criminal convictions. While this type of information may be held, there is no guarantee it will be held for your search subject. Organising your UK people search wisely is the key to uncovering whatever information is available.

What You Need To Prepare For When Conducting A People Search In The UK

Before launching head-first into your people search, spend a moment taking stock of precisely what it is you are looking for or what you hope to achieve. Perhaps you are hoping to re-open lines of communication with an old friend, or find the address of a distant relative? Whatever your objective, outlining it clearly will help you to search in the right places. Pinning down your goal will also make the entire process more efficient, and less stressful.

Having outlined your goal, the next step is to compile all the information you already have which may assist you in your search. It goes without saying that the first and most important piece of information is the person’s name. However, searching public records based purely on a name could turn up thousands of results and leave you sifting through irrelevant information for hours, or even days.

The more information you have at your disposal, the easier it is to find a person in the UK. Most ‘people search’ facilities allow you to narrow down your search with details like the person’s date of birth, last known address, place of birth and telephone number. It is also worth considering whether you have any information relating to the search subject’s immediate family, spouse, or another person who may be living at their address. With this information it is often possible to track someone down, even if searching their name or personal details yields no results.

How To Search For People In The UK

These days, accessing social media platforms is often the fastest and most efficient way to track somebody down. Of course, the person you are searching for would need to have a social media presence for this to work. When social media searches have not worked for you, searching the online telephone directory may be the next logical step.

Telephone directory searches usually require the minimum of a surname and town of residence and will only work if the person you are looking for has a landline phone and is not ‘ex-directory’. Unfortunately, telephone directory searches can generate a frustrating number of completely off-target results too (i.e. a search for ‘Susan Hope’ is liable to turn up results for ‘Steven Hobson’). However, this type of search is still worth a shot before delving into public records or accessing other ‘people search in the UK’ facilities. You never know, you could get lucky.

Where you go next will depend on what information you already have, and the information you are looking for. Here are some options:

  • Electoral role search – Any person in the UK who is over 18 and registered to vote can be located via an electoral role search. This is often a good solution when your search subject is ex-directory or does not use a landline telephone. Searching the electoral role is also a great tactic if you are trying to find the previous resident at an address but have no name to work with.
  • Family records search – UK family records include the details of all registered births, deaths, and marriages, dating back to 1837. This type of people search is made much easier if you have a target town, city, or county to work with. You may consider digging into family records when electoral role and directory searches have failed, especially when you have information relating to your search subject’s spouse or immediate family.

Finding A Person In The UK Without A Name

It is possible to find a person in the UK without a full name. A partial name or surname is better than nothing. In fact, first initials and a surname will get you quite a long way, especially when paired with other information like an address or telephone number. The key to a successful UK people search is to take the information you do have and make it work for you.

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4 thoughts on “Find a Person in the UK

  1. I am look for my Auntie have date of born date of marriage then bigamist married then change of name and where she lived up till 1965 then nothing. Paid for two searches had my DNA done twice now at a loss.

    1. Paulette, it seems you’ve resourced all your options to find your family history and DNA lineage. You might also consider contacting the UK National Archives with your inquiry about how run this type of people search

  2. I am in search of my elderly friend’s birth and death record. I only have her first and last name and that she lived in London England. When I do search it here it have 0 results. Is there another way to assist me with these records?

    1. Hello Sheena and thank you for reaching out to PRS. If you look at our Birth Records and Death Records page, you will find an email to request info on birth certificates on our Birth Records page, and on our Death Records page, you will see a link to the General Register Office. Hope this helps. ~ PRS Team

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