Repatriation for a funeral overseas
Repatriation is the process of returning a body back to one’s place of origin or citizenship for burial or cremation. Talk to your funeral director if you are planning to take the body of the deceased abroad for burial, or if you are planning on a cremation in the UK, and burial of the cremated remains abroad. In either case and depending on the country you are travelling to, there may be paperwork to complete, certificates to collect and restrictions on how you travel.
There is no restriction on the moving of bodies within England and Wales. However, if you intend to move a body elsewhere in the UK (Scotland, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, or the Channel Islands), or to a foreign country, you must notify the coroner.
You will need to:
- Complete a Removal Notice (Form 104) of intention to remove a body
- Provide any certificate for burial or cremation already issued by the registrar or coroner
The coroner will acknowledge receipt of this notice and inform you when the removal of the body may take place, usually four days after the coroner received the notice. In Scotland (where no requirement generally exists), this must usually be requested at least 4 days before travel. Your funeral director will be able to advise you.
The funeral directors can help with any requests from the coroner, such as the requirements of the authorities in the country to which the deceased is being moved.
The death should be registered according to local regulations in the country where the person died and you should obtain a local death certificate. It should then be registered with the British Consul, so that a record of the death will be held by the General Register Office in the UK.
The documents that may be required by the country concerned are:
- Acknowledgement from the Coroner (Form 103)
- Certified Copy of an Entry from the Registrar (Death Certificate)
- Passport of the deceased
- Certificate of embalming of the deceased
- Declaration by funeral director as to the contents of the coffin
- Freedom from Infection Certificate
- Permission from the appropriate consulate for disposal
Some countries require a Cadaver certificate before allowing a body to be transported into the country for burial. The formality of obtaining this is usually handled by the undertaker. The certificate confirms that there was no epidemic of infectious disease for three months preceding the death and is issued by the Environmental Health Officer for the Council in whose area the person died, or is to be exhumed from before reburial elsewhere.
Cremation and repatriation of remains
Requirements vary from country to country but it is usual to have to carry the death certificate and a certificate from the crematorium. Occasionally, you may also need a consular seal.
For more information, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office:
- Call: +44 (0) 20 7008 1500
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Visit: Foreign Commonwealth Office
Due to the paperwork, costs of caskets, embalming fees and additional costs, such as the flights and expenditure in the destination country, repatriation can be expensive. You will also need to consider the expense of the burial or cremation in the country of final rest. Repatriation costs from the UK can cost up to £4,000 depending on the destination country. A funeral director will be able to give you a full estimate. A less expensive option, is to hold the cremation in the UK and carry the cremated remains (ashes) abroad for burial. The ashes may be carried to some countries in hand luggage, accompanied by a death certificate, a certificate from the crematorium and, if appropriate, a consular seal.
You will need to check this with the individual consulate, as each country has different regulations.The cost of repatriation may be covered by an insurance policy, such as a Whole of Life Insurance Policy; check the terms and conditions of any insurance policy to determine if you have cover.