How To Disappear Completely – The Great Vanishing Act

How To Disappear Completely – The Great Vanishing Act
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How To Disappear Completely

How To Disappear Completely Without A Trace

I’m not here to question the reasons why you want to disappear. I’m sure your interest in disappearing are complicated, diverse and very personal.

  • Maybe you are a curious surfer, casually perusing the Skilled Survival site.
  • Maybe you owe the mob a fortune in money you don’t have, and they’re going to break your legs and feed you to the sharks.
  • Or perhaps you are preparing to do something so dastardly – so sinister – so illegal – you’re going to need to vanish from the face of this earth.

Whatever your motivation, be it for good or evil, the following is a guide to disappearing entirely.

Disappearing Is a BIG DEAL

It’s an action not to be taken lightly. It scares people and raises a lot of attention amongst authorities. In some special cases where your life is in danger, there are government agencies and professional services that can help you obtain a new identity legally.

However, if circumstances require it, and you must take matters into your own hands; then this guide is for you.

It’s a last desperate measure, but if you are really getting ready for the Great Vanishing Act, all on your own, then I wish you Good Luck. You’re going to need it.

Preparation Is Key

Disappearing takes time. If you were hoping to split town as soon as you are done reading this guide, get ready to be disappointed.

There are multiple steps involved with disappearing, and the more time spent preparing the better your chances.

But, sometimes the choice to disappear is forced upon us in a rush, for which case this section has been broken up into two parts.

Long RoadThe Long Game – Creating Your Master Plan

First off, start distancing yourself from others.

You need to slowly start cutting ties to your old life. This means seeing friends and family less and less over time.

Continue this until process slowly until eventually, you don’t really see each other at all. At that point, they won’t have any reason to expect to hear from you. This process will require you to lie a lot. Get used to it.

Making excuses and weaseling out of family plans will seem like child’s play once you start lying about your own character. This venture requires you to fib, deflect and mislead almost constantly for the rest of your life – until the lie becomes your new reality.

If you aren’t prepared for that, you’re not ready to disappear.

Start withdrawing all your money.

Your days of Visa, PayPal and Venmo are over. You are a cash only person now, and you need to get ALL of your money out of the banks. Become unbanked.

Do this slowly, so as to not raise any eyebrows. Over the course of several months start withdrawing varying amounts of cash from all accounts under your name. Do this until they are all completely drained.

When done you should have a fat stack of cash tucked away in a hiding spot, some closet or crawlspace. Having no money to your name makes the disappearing process much more challenging. So if you’re truly broke, start saving now. You’ll want to save as much money as you can between now and vanishing day.

Kill your social media accounts.

Deleting these accounts won’t truly erase your information. They have databases of your past information that can be obtained by authorities. However, it’s still a smart way to start detaching yourself from the information grid as best you can.

So say goodbye to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tinder, and even email accounts – it is wise to delete everything. Once again, do this SLOWLY, otherwise, people will take greater notice.

Do you have any pets?

You’ll probably need to take them to a shelter. Or allow a friend or neighbor adopt them under some other pretext.

Pets cannot come with on your disappearing adventure. They will raise attention and make you more recognizable.

However much you love your animals, they’ve got to go, and it is more humane to put them up for adoption/give them away than it is to abandon them entirely.

It is one of the many harsh reality of the Great Vanishing Act, but it is one you must accept.

Quit your job or request time off.

Just before your big breakaway, you’ll need some time to make last minute preparations. You’ll also want a head start before anybody begins questioning your absence.

If you don’t quit ahead of time, your current employer will be the first to notice your missing. So make certain your employer think you quite or at least taking a nice long, much-needed vacation.

Be as thorough as possible.

Try to avoid a lease on your residence if you rent, so landlords don’t come looking. Or start paying a couple months in advance to buy time when you do leave. You’ll want to do this well ahead of time to get them used to you paying several months at a time.

Tell your neighbors you’ll be on vacation for a while (also perhaps even give them a false lead as to where).

Tie up any and all loose ends you can think of to give yourself more time to travel and escape before the search is on.

Measuring RulerThe How To Disappear Short Game

Compile all of your identification.

Get every school ID, drivers license, birth certificate, social security card, and bank statement. Collect anything with your name, and definitely your picture, all in one place.

There are different theories as to what you should do with these documents once they’re collected: Some sources say you should keep them. Some say you should get rid of them.

Whatever you choose to do with your ID’s and personal documents is up to you, but once again, be thorough. Don’t leave anything behind, whether you take it all with or burn it in a bonfire: leave no trace.

Destroy your pictures and avoid new ones.

It sounds drastic, but photos of you will be your own worst enemy. Family members may start going door to door and store to store carrying a recent photo of you from the life you’re trying to flee.

The process of eliminating photos and avoiding getting your picture taken also makes it clear to family and authorities that you wanted to disappear. That this was a conscious decision. You weren’t murdered, you weren’t kidnapped – you chose to vanish.

It may seem counterintuitive but trust me, it will work in your favor. If the cops think you disappeared by some malicious or accidental incident, they will search harder for you. If they get the sense that you left on purpose and went to great lengths to plan it they won’t search as hard.

Cancel your mobile phone plan.

It’s of no use to you now. You are a fugitive, not a social participant. If you really need one, buy a cheap burner phone under an assumed name. Just don’t hesitate to break it in two and ditch it if someone starts catching on.

Ditch your car.

You probably had some good times together, but few things are more traceable and recognizable than a person’s car. Sell it for cash. And if it’s not worth much, leave it running, unlocked, in a bad part of town, with the deed in the glove box and let some thief do all the work for you.

Once your old car is gone, it’s time to buy a used car with the cash. This car shouldn’t be flashy or unique. Find something in a neutral color, a few years old, with some dings and dents. You want it to be boring but reliable.Pocket Jumper

Speaking of reliable, the last thing you can afford is a dead battery while on the move. So make sure to get this one critical piece of “disappearing gear” a pocket jumper.

It’s small, powerful and worth every penny to keep you from getting stuck on the side of the road.

Just toss the pocket jumper in your bug out bag and you can thank me later…

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PsychosisMore Tips and Tricks On How To Disappear

In the book, “How To Disappear Completely and Never Be Found” by Doug Richmond, he suggests the following…

Search for babies who died the day you were born and contact the government requesting their birth certificate. He emphasizes that this is normal because people lose birth certificates all the time.

Now use that document to acquire a social security number, drivers license, and other personal documentation.

With that, move to a busy city, rent a small apartment and spend several months developing a short employment history. Mainly with temp jobs or construction gigs.

Then once that is established simply walk out the door and never return. He calls this Pseudocide – or, faking your own death.

However logical this may seem to some, remember this: our government, now more than ever, is on the lookout for terrorists. They will take notice of anyone who is trying to falsify identities and get into the country to wreak havoc.

This book was written in 1995 – a lot has changed in the last two decades.

Requesting personal documentation under a false identity from the federal government is highly illegal.

This behavior will have some immense repercussions today should you get caught.

Instead of disappearing on your own terms, masked special forces might blast through your window late some night, bag you, tag you, and ship you off to Guantanamo.

That’s called disappearing on their terms. Not good.

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Limit what’s in your “go bag” to the bare necessities. Such items such as essential medical supplies, personals, small tools, a change of underwear and socks, et cetera.

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Change up your personal appearance.

As much as you treasure that favorite t-shirt and jeans combo, ditch them.

Go to a cheap clothing store and buy several outfits that you would NEVER normally choose. Dye your hair, but don’t pick a crazy color. If you’re a natural blonde go brunette and visa vera. Wear a new hat – hats are great for concealing faces. Choose a hat that you’d never be caught wearing in your old life, maybe that’s a Fedora. Also, practice using new mannerisms and try to mask your old mannerisms as best as possible.

It is likely that people will already be looking for you – and it is possible that someone might recognize you anyway. You need to make a stranger of yourself.  But don’t make yourself strange; you need to blend into a crowd as well as mask your own identity.

This means you can’t stick out or be remembered. Be the background. Stick to the shadows. Act normal.

Travel on your own terms.

Covering distances by foot or by bicycle is your best option. These forms of transport cannot easily be tracked and do not require licenses or ID’s to use.

Public transportation (i.e. buses, trains, subways, etc.) are acceptable, just remember a lot of these are under constant video surveillance.

And under no circumstances do you take a cab or hitchhike. When you get into a car with someone else at the wheel, you have just put your entire situation in their hands. They may recognize you and contact the authorities, or crash the car and get the police or EMT’s involved.

Travel on your own terms; don’t ever let someone else manage your great vanishing act.


The further, the safer – the more isolated, the better. Head for the border or get way out of town.

If you are in the US, your best bet is south. And I’m not talking about Mexico. While it may be a developing country, and it may even be “easy” to get to without an ID, Mexico is a lousy safe haven and is currently rather tumultuous.

Keep moving. Go to Central or South America. There are plenty of ideal towns, cities, and villages you can access down there.

If crossing the border is out of the question or outside the realm of possibility, travel as far as you canThere are lots of isolated or busy locations that do not require a passport to get to, just be warned: it is usually easier to find someone on the run if they haven’t left their home country.

But whether you flee the country or hide amongst us, you must go somewhere people will not expect.

If you’ve always dreamed of visiting Jamaica, then definitely do not go hide there. If your family is from South Africa, that’s off limits to you. Find someplace unpredictable. It doesn’t have to be a place you’ll be unhappy, or uncomfortable, it just has to be a place that you’ve never spoken to anyone about ever before.

This is a good point to lay some false leads.

When you leave home, place clues like road atlas maps or do extensive internet research that leads investigators in the completely wrong direction. If your destination is actually Nome, Alaska, then leave books, maps, and research for Los Buzos, Panama all over your house when you split. False leads will buy you time.

Another important decision at this point: big busy city, or tiny isolated town. There isn’t really an in-between option here. The easiest place to disappear is either in the midst of a throng, or the emptiness of the natural world.

Rent a small studio under an assumed name in a city full of hundreds of thousands of people. Or vanish into the woods and build a house on the outskirts of a tiny town. Maybe you even go full Jeremiah Johnson and live off the fat of the land in the heart of the wilderness.

Whatever you decide, just remember: this may be your home for a while, so choose wisely.

Man Standing At Cave EntranceThe New You and Your New Life

Disappearing is more than just running away and covering your tracks.

If you want to disappear forever and never be found, the implication is that you, your character, your mannerisms, your likes and dislikes, hobbies, and ideas ALL DISAPPEAR.

This is without a doubt, the most difficult and most important step of the process. Be an actor. Your identity must change to its core.

Create a character history.

You must learn to naturally answer all the following questions should anyone ask:

  • Where did you come from?
  • What did you do before?
  • Where is your family?
  • What kind of food do you like?
  • What is your favorite beverage?
  • Who’s your favorite author?
  • Your favorite musician?
  • Favorite food?

Bottomline: Recreate everything

Of course, making new friends will eventually be necessary. No matter where you end up, neighbors and locals will become a part of your life, and it isn’t wrong to make friends with them. Just make sure to do so under your assumed identity.

Hell, having people who can confirm your name and backstory might even be helpful in this situation. Especially should the relevant authorities come snooping in your new location.

So don’t be afraid to meet people, just be afraid of revealing your true identity.

Becoming Comfortable and Falling Into Old Habits.

Don’t do it! Stay on your guard at all times – paranoia can be both a curse and an invaluable tool.

Watch yourself, and do everything you can to avoid old habits.

Contacting people from your past.

NEVER DO IT. I guarantee the urge will grip you at some point.

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES are you to visit, call, write, email, IM, or otherwise contact your family or friends to let them know you’re okay.

They are not part of your life anymore. And any form of contact between you is a step towards discovery and ruin.

The lure of personal success.

I can understand the appetite for success. Some people cannot stifle this hunger – to be better, and have more, and get recognized.

It is something that man cannot bury, cannot completely suppress.

Maybe you went from being a successful stockbroker or businessman before your life on the run. Or maybe you used to write books.

Whatever your draw, success is something people are driven towards, and it isn’t necessarily to be avoided. You can still be successful in your life on the run.

Your new identity can still find prosperity and recognition – just not for the same talents or reasons as you had in the life before. Find new hobbies, new interests, new skills you never knew you had and exploit those.

Stay under the radar but don’t be confined by your exile.

Moving is OKAY.

Moving is even encouraged after a while. If you can change your name for the first few moves. This should become easier in less developed countries, but if it proves to be an issue, travel by nicknames.

Make following your trail as confusing as possible: are we looking for Juan? Or John? Or Peter? The more you move the harder it will be to find you.

Above all – Stay safe, stay alert, and stay disappeared.

Further Resources For Research and Preparation

One article isn’t nearly enough information to get truly ready for an effort of this scale. I’ll reiterate: Disappearing is a big deal.

It has repercussions that reach beyond your own life.

No matter how detached you may feel from the world around you, someone will eventually notice.  Once they do, it’s a countdown to pursuit. The better prepared you are, and the more you have studied, the more time you will have to complete the Great Vanishing Act in its entirety.

My highly recommended resource for advanced “How To Disappear” tactics from an Ex-CIA Operative:

Spy Escape & Evasion

Here are a couple of the advanced disappearing highlights you’ll learn next:

  1. The two most important items you need when planning to disappear. How to get your hands on these items and how to use them.
  2. How to actually use a “break phone” to ensure you stay several steps ahead of your pursuers. (The secret of the break phone is one of the highest-level security measures you’ll ever hear about.)
  3. The 3-step process that must be followed if you want to remain off the grid for good… Even out of the reach of the government.
  4. How to create decoys to throw people off your tracks so they eventually give up trying to locate you.
  5. How to easily set up a secret email account that vanishes after just one hour.
  6. You’ll uncover the simple method of making untraceable phone calls.
  7. And how to find a “safe house” to use until it’s time to make your next move. (This won’t cost you any money and will keep you safe, warm, and out of sight).
  8. How to determine if you’re being followed on foot. It’s called the “pause” tactic and it will quickly expose anyone trying to follow you.
  9. You’ll learn the “eye” secret that’s a dead giveaway if someone is trying to run surveillance on you or if they’re about to do something sinister to you.

If you need these advanced techniques then trust me – you need to check this out

Spy Escape and Evasion Logo

Will Brendza
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    • Just In Case Jack says

      It’s a massive topic and not for the faint of heart for those who are truly serious about it.

      – Jack

  1. billrandall says

    sort of overlooks the need for a passport. I’d get to Mexico first, and over a year’s time, have 5-6 cosmetic surgeons, each do ONE operation to my face, so that nobody has a before and after pic of me. Then I’d seek to buy citizenship someplace. Your face change and staying away from anyone or anything that the “old you” use to associate with, are key. the dead baby thing won’t work, since 9/11. You might be able to do something similar in Canada, but not in the US. If you can’t do all this, you’ll have to become a hermit/trapper/gold panner in Canada, grow a beard and almost always avoid people., never have a car, etc. An offroad motorycycle, bought from a private party with cash, is a possible option, if you avoid highways (except at night).

  2. catherine says

    I agree with billrandall. This is way out dated information. Hell, I can’t get my own legitimate birth certificate without jumping through flaming hoops. It is no longer possible to get someone else’s. Infants get SS numbers now so any adult seeking one will have to show up in person and explain why they don’t have one. the writer says there are government agencies that will assist in getting you a new identity…if those are not witness protection, exactly what government agencies do that? No job for the faint of heart but almost impossible these days to just disappear and have any semblance of a normal life afterward.

    • Just In Case Jack says

      Thanks for sharing your opinion.

      I don’t agree that it’s outdated. I would agree that none of these tactics are as easy to implement as they used to be. People may need to get creative with these ideas in order to implement them successfully.

      Also, we were referring to witness protection program when suggesting people reach out to the goverment. I have edited the article to make this clear for readers.

    • John Harris says

      Just do it and don’t tell anyone what ur up too. After all its non of their business to begin with whether it be family or friends. Go completely off grid is not as hard as one would think. Take a few months and stick to the positive plan you come up with. Times have changed especially with security and location devices. The key factor in this is go cash only and stick to medium towns and don’t carry a damn cell phone they are ur worst enemy.

  3. Shawn says

    If anybody is considering to vanish, remember destroy the phone and all records of this otherwise govt hackers will find this and know you werent abducted by the sinaloa cartel you just voluntarily vanished…

  4. Aqualung says

    Meh. Disappearing’s a doddle. All you have to do is get old and sick. Then no prick wants to find you. Deal done.

    • Adam says

      hah, that’s the truth. and not even respond to ya on a disappearing blog article comment. well here ya go buddy, I did!

  5. Anonymous says

    Fake your death, that is how to disappear forever, make your car crash in a fiery death while you are away from it, you will classified as dead if it is your car and people saw you driving.

    • VT says

      If you do that you will be subject to a full-on death/murder investigation by all authorities (local, state and feds). Better to go quietly and leave false trails.

  6. Yankeewatchdog says

    Good luck with all this, if you have tats. Either you keep them covered forever, or have them removed,(which usually looks like shit). My Army tat has my name right above it. I can’t show up in BFE, and introduce myself as Joe, if my tat clearly says Bill….
    I worked with a guy,on a roofing job. We were all wearing shorts, and tennies, except this one guy. He was fully covered.”Dude, aren’t you hot?You can lose some of that get up…” To get to the point, he had a “MC colors” tat, covering his back. He was on the run from them. He worked with us for a couple weeks, and then he moved on…we never saw him again. Just something to consider…

  7. John Watchman says

    Face recognition systems, finger prints, data and GPS tracking, all make these ideas obsolete. In a small town you will be a stranger, a probable cause for concern, and will be brought to the attention of local law enforcement, Survival in the wilderness can not be done without access to supplies, which requires money and exposing oneself to the curious eyes of store owners and citizens. .Citizenship, government IDs, and a globally recognized national passport can be bought in Belize at a reasonable price… under an assumed name.

  8. Simmerjet says

    If you are running from a colorful life, you may as well forget disappearing. If someone with money cant seem to stay hidden, ( think whitey Bulger ) then neither can a person with limited funds… If you are truly a nobody, then dropping out could be an option. But whatever, and who ever you are, the main Culprit here is the motive. If you are wanted by the law, you are delusional about your success, again, think Whitey bulger … If you just want to melt into the woodwork and want to be a nobody, then make it clear to the people close to you and blow off the rest. Everyone who knows you may think you are a jerk, but what does that matter, you’re not ever going to see them again, you are starting over on a different level… Remember, it’s not against the law to want to start a new life.. it’s only illegal if you are running from something illegal… Other then that tell everyone in your world to pound sand and just drop out. even debt can be ignored so long as you dropped every single trace of your old life…of coarse if its a political hot button debt like child support you have a better chance of falling out of bed dead in the morning then dodging debt like this…

  9. says

    This is overall a great read. MOST people think that you must be up to no good IF you discuss this type of topic. NOT so! One place that I worked [government agency] We had a new person came to work with us. I told her some very basic things to do on the privacy front….. she thought that I was crazy because ‘normal’ people don’t worry about non published phone numbers and using mail drops…. within 3 months she got her first death threat, THEN is when she sat up and asked me for help…

    Moral of this story is that you start LONG before you think you will ever need to disappear.

  10. rosa says

    In ENGLAND its very easy to search for and buy a birth cert online. My next step would be to save money/withdraw it, cut and dye my hair, cancel facebook, and travel 200 miles to another city where I’d rent a small flat from a cheap advert, paying cash. Once you have the birth cert, this acts as ID for everything else…set up gas, telephone, water and electric supplies (and tv license, wifi etc) in your NEW name and pay the bill at the post office in cash. The utility bills actually act as ‘proof of name and address’. You can probably then set up a new bank account with all this lot! Then find cash in hand work delivering food or flowers, or bar work, or sex industry if you’re ok with it – each to their own in times of need! Existing tattoos need to be tattooed over with a new design. Scars can be tattooed over too. Avoid homeless shelters unless for one night out of desperation, as they’re generally nosy and on high alert for runaways and people ‘wanted’. Dont forget eye glasses with plain glass in, they alter your appearance.

  11. Fried With Onions says

    We live in a society of advanced technology and almost everyone has a smartphone nowadays but taking it with with you when you disappear would be a BAD idea. Even if you changed the SIM card, you can’t change the IMEI number of the phone and masking the MAC number of the network card isn’t reliable either. Also, factory resetting the phone doesn’t always erase all the data on the phone, as I have found out from experience. But one of the biggest and most important things is GPS can be turned on remotely. Even if you have deleted Facebook, Twitter and any other accounts you were once associated with, your Smartphone, through the installed apps, will still be connected to the internet. Anything connected to the internet can be hacked, and the government employ experts in this field. The best option would be to buy a cheap and basic phone and register with a different network under your new name.

  12. says

    so how can you fake your death when you have no one to trust and people who want to kill you are powerful and they have government agency on they side and people who works @ the border

  13. says

    This is certainly an interesting topic.
    There are indeed many reasons to disappear. I guess the most obvious one would be not to face jail time, but like you said Jack, everyone has their own reasons in life.
    With the increased technology, it’s getting harder every year to completely be wiped out from the system, especially if you live in a developed country.
    So depending on your situation, I think the “easiest” way would be to start over in another country. Somewhere in SE Asia, for example., and live completely off the grid.

  14. Trent says

    This is 100% understandable. Loads of preparation and planning, as well as lying is needed to plan for this. I’m just wondering, because i know if i don’t think of it, i’ll get screwed by it. How does one do this who’s also a type 1 diabetic?

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