If a family member or friend dies while travelling or living abroad there are a few things you’ll need to sort out before you can get them home. We’ve put important info together below to help you understand what you need to do.
What to do if someone dies abroad
When someone dies abroad, you’ll need to take different steps, depending on the circumstances.
Finding out someone’s died abroad while you’re in the UK
If a family member or friend dies while travelling or living overseas and you’re in the UK the British Consulate in the country where they died will tell the UK police. The police will then tell the next of kin.
If you hear about the person’s death from someone else like a holiday rep or tour guide, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). They’ll keep you up to date and help you make arrangements.
If the person was serving in the armed forces, learn more about what to do when someone in the military dies.
Travelling with someone who dies
If you’re travelling abroad with someone who dies contact the closest British Embassy or British Consulate. They’ll offer advice on what you need to do.
Find the closest British Embassy or consulate on the government website.
If you’re on a package holiday contact your rep as soon as possible. They may be able to help you make plans, like booking different flights if you need to.
Registering a death abroad
You have to register the death in the country where the person passed away. The British Consulate can help you with this. Once this has been done you’ll need to register the death with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office too.
To register the death you’ll need:
- Their passport
- Your passport
- Contact details for next of kin (if that’s not you)
Where do you have the funeral if someone dies abroad?
You can decide to have the funeral in the country where the person died or make arrangements for a funeral back in the UK. It’s up to you what you’d prefer.
How to bring a body back from abroad
Bringing the body back from abroad is also known as repatriation. To make these arrangements you may want to get in touch with a funeral director that specialises in repatriation.
Ask for help from the British Consulate with this. They may have contacts you can use. They’ll also help you translate documents and fill things out correctly.
Before you can bring the body back to the UK they’ll need to be embalmed. You’ll then get a certificate of embalming. And you’ll also get a death certificate. You’ll need these to bring the body back to the UK.
What you’ll need for repatriation
To bring the body back to the UK you’ll need:
- Certificate of embalming
- Death certificate
- Certified English translation of the death certificate
- Written permission to take the body out of the country
The British Consulate and/or the funeral director will help you get all the documents you need so you can get your loved one home as soon as possible.
How long does repatriation take?
Usually it’ll take about a week. But if the person died under suspicious circumstances or was involved in a road traffic accident it could take a lot longer.
It’s possible that the local authorities will want a coroner to carry out a post-mortem exam to figure out the cause of death. This can delay things.
Keep in mind that the time it takes may be different depending on the country too. They may have different processes that could take longer than you expect. Ask the British Consulate or international funeral director how long they think it’ll take. They may be able to give you a rough idea.
Does travel insurance cover death abroad?
Before making any arrangements to bring the body home try to find out if the person who died had travel insurance. If they did you may be able to claim for the repatriation costs and funeral costs. Get in touch with the insurance company as soon as you can to see what’s covered.
Worried about the cost of repatriation?
You may find that having your loved one cremated in the country where they passed away and bringing their ashes home will help you save on costs. An international funeral director will be able to tell you about the costs involved.
They’ll also be able to advise you on the best way to take the ashes home. Some countries and/or airlines may need to see the death certificate and a certificate from the crematorium. They may also ask for a special seal from the Consulate. So check all the details before you fly so that you’re not delayed.
What happens when you get back to the UK?
Once the body is back in the UK you need to take the death certificate to the local registry office. This should be the registry office in the area where the funeral is taking place. You’ll get a certificate of no liability to register. You’ll need to give this to the funeral director before the funeral takes place.
What if you’re not using a funeral director? Make sure you give this certificate back to the registrar within 96 hours of the funeral taking place.
We hope this guidance on what to do when someone dies abroad helps making arrangements for your loved one easier. Visit the government website for more info on next steps.
Photo by ABDOLREZA KHALEDI.