Fast People Search | UK: Find Living People

Michelle Leonard

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Looking for a fast people search for the UK? Finding living people in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland is easier when you use specific resources. Here are the databases you’ll want to use to look for your DNA matches from AncestryDNA, 23andMe, Living DNA, MyHeritage DNA or Family Tree DNA.

Are you looking for living people in the UK–anywhere in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland? These are resources we recommend to people who are looking for more information about their DNA matches.

192.com: Fast People Search for the UK

The UK doesn’t have versions of public “people finder” websites like Been Verified or Spokeo. The closest resource available would be www.192.com which launched in 1997 and contains over 750 million UK residential and business records. The site is primarily known for providing a search service for public UK electoral registers from 2002 to present but it also offers several other premium services including a people search facility (addresses, phone numbers etc), company director reports and background reports that provide comprehensive profiles of UK-based individuals.

While you can undertake a limited number of free searches on the site each day, you must purchase credits to view the details and credits come in different sized packages most of which are valid for six months. Company, property and background reports cannot be purchased using credits, however, as they have separate set fees.

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Find People in UK Electoral Registers

For UK-based mystery DNA matches, you can try a few different things depending on the country within the UK in which your mystery match lives. Scottish and Northern Irish resources are somewhat different to English and Welsh resources, however, so bear that in mind when undertaking any research. The one resource that is universal, however, is the electoral register, which is taken once a year and is searchable in several places including 192, FindMyPast and Ancestry (a UK or world subscription would be required). Here’s a sample entry (even though it’s public record, we’ve blurred some of the info for this one we chose at random, in case John wouldn’t thank us for sharing it here):

192 and FindMyPast also provide information on those who are registered as directors of limited companies and, if you then look these up via Companies House, you will be able to identify a month and year of birth for free.

It really helps to have a general idea of where in the UK the person lives when searching the electoral register, though, especially if you’re searching for someone with a common surname. Also remember that people in the UK have been able to opt out of being included in the public electoral register since 2002 and many do decide to opt out, so there’s a chance the person you’re looking for may not be listed for that reason.

UK Civil Registration Indexes

England and Wales have excellent civil registration birth indexes that include the mother’s maiden name. These can often be used to pinpoint someone’s age and when and where they were born in order to build a tree back for them.

Ancestry hosts these indexes up to 2007 (again, you need either a UK or world subscription to access them). FindMyPast’s index runs up to 2006 and freebmd.org.uk has a free version of the birth index that is currently complete up to 1989. New index entries are being added to FreeBMD all the time for the early 1990s and the indexing project will continue, but those years are not yet complete.

For anything more recent than 1989, I would suggest switching to one of the subscription sites for now. I frequently use both FreeBMD and subscription site birth indexes to try to identify living people born in England and Wales and then use the maiden name information to attempt to find marriage details for the parents and work back from there. A top tip is if you can’t find what you’re looking for on one index, try one of the others as there may be omissions or mistranscriptions on one that don’t exist on the others.

The English and Welsh civil registration marriage and death indexes are also excellent resources. It is also always worth searching for wills for deceased individuals in England/Wales via the probate indexes on subscription sites and the probate search website where grants and wills can be ordered for £1.50 each. For instance, if I’m having no luck trying to find someone, but I’m able to build a tree backwards and identify that their parent died in recent years and there is a will available for that parent, then the will should contain addresses for the executors who are often close family members like children. 

If you find an address via the electoral register or a will but you’re not sure if it’s up-to-date, property websites like zoopla.co.uk will often list whether that property has been sold in recent years. It’s also possible to purchase title registers for properties via the England and Wales Land Registry or the Land Register of Scotland for small fees (£3 and £3.60 respectively) and the current owners will be named on these documents.

The steps you should take to search for a living person in Scotland are different because the Scottish system is separate from the English/Welsh system. There are birth, marriage, and death (BMD) indexes online that go up to the present day in Scotland, but it’s harder to identify births especially if common surnames are involved. This is because the mother’s maiden surname is not included on the online birth index like it is on the England and Wales version.

All indexes are available at the official Scottish Government site for searching government records and archives; scotlandspeople.gov.uk. The site is maintained by the National Records of Scotland (NRS) and runs on a pay-per-view credit model with BMD and census records costing £1.50 each. It’s important to understand that indexes for modern records (births within the last 100 years, marriages within the last 75 years, and deaths within the last 50 years) only contain basic information (i.e. name(s), year, county and registration district). It is possible to order more recent records for £12 each plus postage to be sent through the mail, but the best and most cost-effective method of tracing living people in Scotland is by visiting the Archives. 

The Scotland’s People Centre in Edinburgh and local Family History Centres in Glasgow, Inverness, Hawick, Alloa and Kilmarnock can provide access to all Scottish BMD records up to the present day. These records can be viewed by visiting one of the centres in person and purchasing a day pass for £15. 

Unfortunately, this kind of Archives resource is not available for English or Welsh records, but they can be ordered from the GRO as postal certificates (or cheaper PDFs for some less recent birth and death records). Do bear in mind, though, that if you want to order an English or Welsh birth record from the last 50 years, you need to be able to supply all the key details from it including date of birth and parent names, which you’re unlikely to know if you’re trying to identify the person. 

If your living DNA match is from Northern Ireland, then it will be trickier to identify them via online records as modern Northern Irish birth indexes are not available online. The equivalent website to ScotlandsPeople for Northern Ireland, GRONI, is run by The General Register Office for Northern Ireland and the certificate access cut-off dates are the same (100 years for births, 75 years for marriages and 50 years for deaths) but, unlike ScotlandsPeople, indexes are not available online past those cut-off dates.

In order to view modern information right up to the present, you have to visit either GRONI’s ‘Public Search Room’ or the dedicated GRONI terminals in the ‘Public Search Room’ of the Public Records Office for Nothern Ireland (PRONI) both of which are located in Belfast. Be aware that GRONI operates a pay-per-view credits system and you need to create a GRONI account in order to purchase credits to use in the public search room.

Death Notices for Finding People

Detailed obituaries listing family members are nowhere near as common in the UK as they are in the US. Much shorter ‘Death Notices’ are standard and many of these won’t name the deceased’s family members. A typical death notice may list the name, date and place of death alongside a line such as ‘beloved mother and grandmother’ and then finish with funeral details. Some will, however, list a spouse’s name or children’s names so it is always worth searching for a death notice as there may still be information in it that can help you. It’s just important not to expect the level of detailed family information that US obituaries often provide.

Social Media and Phone Numbers

Social media is very often the key to tracing a living person in the UK, but again, it depends on the age of the match. In many cases, using traditional research methods to trace forward to younger family members who are more likely to have a social media footprint is the best option. Try every social media platform: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. and get sleuthing!

There is also the BT Phone Book which provides public landline telephone numbers. Note that you need to know the general area or post code to look a phone number up on this database but you can try different areas speculatively if you are unsure. This used to be an excellent way to find people but, as mobile phones have become more prevalent, it is becoming more obsolete with each passing year. If the person you’re looking for is older, though, then there is still a chance of finding a publicly listed phone number for them using this method and it’s always worth a quick look just in case.

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