Geographical Genealogical Geopardy: The Answer is “The Faroe Islands”

The question is: What does “FO” in Rootsweb’s SSDI mean?

This issue is raised by Arlene Eakle in a blog post on Monday, March 16.  It seems that an individual’s obituary neglected to name the place of death.  But in Rootsweb’s SSDI, a place is given as “FO”.   The Rootsweb SSDI also indicates that the death was “verified,” that is, someone has seen a death certificate.  The person’s home county has no record of the death.  The Social Security Administration professed to have no idea what “FO” means.   Arlene’s correspondent says, “that this individual may have died outside of the US fits with lifestyle, and is not outside the realm of possibility.”

Well, folks, my guess is that the person died in the Faroe Islands.

How did I conclude that and where the heck are the Faroe Islands?

Taking the hunch that “FO”  is some sort of international country code, I went to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and found ISO-3166, which contains the “official” list of 2-character alpha country abbreviations.  There I found that “FO” is the abbreviation for the Faroe Islands.

The Faroes are an island group about halfway between Iceland and Scotland and they are an autonomous province of Denmark.

My thought is that to get a death certificate from the Faroes one might try the Faroese Ministry of Health and Social Affairs.   They can be contacted by email at:  One may call the Ministry at 011-298- 30-40-50 or fax them at 011-298-35-40-45  (dialing from USA).  Faroes time is EST+4 hours.

If the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs does not have a deathe certificate, then most likely it’s maintained in one of the 34 municipalities in the Faroe Islands.  A call to one of the numerous Danish Consulates in the USA may be helpful.

On the other hand, it may be that a US consular official in Denmark was notified of the death.   There is important and useful information about deaths of US citizens abroad on the State Department website.


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