How We Help

These are all the services the Restoring Family Links team provides.

If you believe your loved one has been detained by authorities

Where there has been an allegation of arrest the Canadian Red Cross will submit a request (a Confirmation of Detention) from a family member for a search of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) database of registered prisoners related to conflict.

The Canadian Red Cross may assist individuals who require documentation to obtain a Detention Certificate stating that they have been detained in their country of origin and were visited by the ICRC.

To initiate a request, contact us.

Send a message to your loved one

When regular postal service is not available due to a conflict or major disaster, Red Cross offers a unique service that allows family members to stay in contact. Red Cross Messages often only consist of a few words, but can ease the minds of worried loved ones half a world away.  Red Cross Messages can also be delivered to persons in detention centres through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Detainees have the opportunity to send or reply to Red Cross Messages during visits with the ICRC.

Each year Canadian Red Cross sends and receives between 500 to 600 Red Cross Messages.

The delivery of the family message can take many months. Often, the security situation in conflict or disaster areas may limit ICRC access and to reduce the capacity of the National Society involved to provide Restoring Family Links services.

Red Cross Messages may contain personal and family news only. Content may be checked by authorities in the destination countries. Official documents and photos can be attached to a Red Cross Message.

Sample of a form for a Red Cross Message

To send a Red Cross Message, contact us.

When, for health reasons, contact is suddenly lost between family members

The Canadian Red Cross will accept Health and Welfare requests to determine the well-being of family members outside of Canada with whom regular contact has been broken without explanation within the last six months. Our international partners will try to contact the person at the last known address where a family member is unavailable to do so.

To initiate a Health and Welfare Inquiry on a family member, contact us.

ICRC Travel Documents

Official documents such as school records and birth certificates can be forwarded to minors, or family members in conflict areas, through the ICRC network.

The ICRC Travel Document is issued to refugees and displaced or stateless persons who, because they lack appropriate documents, are unable to return to their country of origin or cannot go to or stay in the country of choice that is willing to receive them or keep them. The Canadian Red Cross can process an application for an ICRC Travel Document. Requests for Travel Documents from individuals who have no plans to travel but who need to satisfy an immigration administrative requirement to produce a valid passport or travel document will not be accepted.

To initiate a request, contact us.

If your request does not fall within any of these categories visit this page or contact us.


Second World War

The Canadian Red Cross, with the International Tracing Service of the ICRC in Bad Arolsen, Germany may obtain documentation of civilian internment or forced labour for you or a close family member. Please note that the archive materials are often incomplete due to the effects of war.

To initiate a request, contact us.

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