The identification process

When someone is reported missing or presumed dead, all available information about the individual (ante mortem data) is collected for comparison with the deceased. Notably:

  • Dental records and x-rays
  • Medical records
  • DNA samples from relations
  • Fingerprints
  • Characteristics such as tattoos, scars or other distinguishing features
  • Circumstantial information, e.g. place of residence, clothing, frequently worn jewellery, etc.

A post-mortem examination will be performed during which all medical and physical details on the body are recorded. The data thus obtained post-mortem is compared with the available information about the missing person.

Identification criteria

Primary criteria:

  • Dental information
  • Fingerprints
  • DNA

Secondary criteria:

  • Medical findings
  • Forensic evidence
  • Circumstantial information

The Identification Commission generally determines the identity when at least one primary criterion has been met, supported by secondary criteria. A mismatch precludes identification.

What happens after the identity has been determined?

When the identity has been determined, the body is released to the next of kin for funeral. In some cases, the police may suspend release of the body for investigative reasons, but release will take place as soon as it is prudent.

Composition of the Identification Commission

  • Administrative staff
  • Police forensic experts
  • Forensic pathologists
  • Forensic dentists
  • Forensic geneticist (DNA)

Administered by NCIS, the Commission's members are based throughout Norway, including in the cities of Bergen, Trondheim and Tromsø.