When A Loved One dies abroad
When someone dies abroad, the death may seem more distressing because of the complications of being away from home and dealing with strangers. But, you can get help from the British authorities in the UK and overseas.
Finding out about the death.
If a close relative or friend dies abroad while you're still at home.
If the death has been reported to the British Consulate in the country where the person died, the Consulate will ask the British police to inform you, the next of kin, of his/her death.
If you hear of the death from anyone else, for example a tour operator, you should contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on
020 7008 1500 (open 24 hours)
Consular staff in London will keep in touch with you, the family, and the Consulate abroad until burial or cremation overseas, or until the deceased has been brought back to the UK. They will also tell the British Consul of your wishes for the funeral, and take details of who will be responsible for paying for the costs involved, either you the family, or if you are insured by a travel operator, the travel operator will then contact their Insurance Company and in turn, the Insurance Company will contact their Repatriation company, so that they can take complete control, and organise the bringing of your loved ones body back home to the UK.
A coroner in England and Wales will normally hold an inquest if a person died a violent or unnatural / sudden / unexpected death overseas, and your loved ones body is returned to the coroner’s district, usually where you or your loved one/the deceased, lived, or is to be cremated or buried.
In cases of major catastrophes or terrorist attacks, local practices may change, and there may be delays with bodies being returned to the UK due to identification procedures.
It is advisable to forewarn your Funeral Director in the UK, of your loved ones death, in that way they can assist and advise you of procedures required for the return of your loved one. You need to keep your Funeral Director updated with any information as you proceed with the process of return. He can also assist with repatriation if there is no insurance in place. If there is insurance covering a death abroad then the insurance/travel agents will arrange a repatriation company to assist in the return of your loved one. Your Funeral Director will then be in conversation with the repatriation company and Coroner, and be ready and waiting to assist on collection from the airport.
If the person dies while you're abroad together / with them.
Contact your nearest consular representative in the country where the death occurred, so if you are a British citizen, contact the nearest British Embassy or High Commission. Embassies and High Commissions are usually in capital cities. Other cities may have a consulate or Honorary Consul.
The British Consul will support you by offering practical advice and help with funeral arrangements and other formalities, such as inquests, and any language problems / translations that may be required.
If the person died while on a package holiday, the tour operator will be able to contact funeral directors and British Consular staff for you.
Coping with death abroad, The Foreign and Commonwealth Office: click on this link, you can then download two a very good and informative leaflets.
Registering the death where the person died.
You will need to register the death according to local regulations in the country where the death occurred, and get a Death Certificate of that country's origin, this death certificate will need to be translated into English for the officials in the UK,. The local police, British Consul or tour guide can advise you on how to do this.
You can also often register the death at the British Consulate as well. You don't have to do this, but if you do you can buy a UK-style death certificate, and the record will be sent to the General Registrars Office within 12 months. You will also be able to get a copy of the Death Certificate later from the General Registrars Office or from the British Consul in the country concerned.
If the person who died was a serving member of the British armed forces, their commanding officer can also request the registration.
It's not possible to register the death with the British authorities in a number of countries, including:
the Ascension Islands
Turks & Cacos Islands
If your loved ones body is to be brought back to be cremated, this must be reported to the coroner since they need to issue a Certificate for Cremation. Your Funeral Director will usually sort this out for you.
Documents you'll need to register the death.
Before you can bring the body home, you'll need the following documents:
a certified English translation of the foreign death certificate from the country in which the person died
authorisation to remove the deceased's body from the country, in certificate form.
a certificate of embalming.
The deceased's Passport.
The British Consul can help to arrange the above documentation.
The Association of Translation Companies
If the deceased's funeral costs are covered by travel insurance, contact the insurance company promptly. They'll be able to contact the funeral directors for you and make the necessary arrangements.
If the deceased's funeral costs are not covered by insurance, YOU will be expected to pay ALL the costs, including hospital bills and repatriation costs for (bringing home) of the body and possessions of your loved one.
Arranging the funeral Back Home.
You'll need to take an authenticated translation of the death certificate to the registrars office in the area you intend to hold the funeral, more often than not,
the area where you live. In Lincolnshire the phone number is 01552 782244, this is the main Lincoln office who will then make you an appointment with your local Registrar, this is the system for Lincolnshire. The registrar will then issue a 'certificate of no liability so you can register' the death. This certificate is usually given to the funeral director to enable the funeral to go ahead. The certificate is not required if a coroner has issued a Certificate for Cremation or an Order for Burial, on occasion a second postmortem may be required if the coroners are dissatisfied with the results of the first postmortem which may have been performed in the country where he/she died. The coroners officers will also contact the deceased's General Practitioner to discuss any previous illnesses or complications that the deceased may have suffered with. He will also need to see all the documentation with his/her passport.
For more information contact the Coroners Service for this area ( Lincolnshire ) on: 01205 312217, although once contacted by you, your Funeral Director will discuss arrangements with the coroner, pass on any information regarding the death and next of kin's details, and when back home, will arrange for an identification procedure with the family giving positive identification of your loved one, with the coroners officer witnessing the identification and taking a legal statement from you. It is also possible that the coroner may require an inquest here in this country, or further investigations by the police abroad.
District Registrars in Northern Ireland
Having the funeral abroad
You can arrange for the burial or cremation in the country where the person died. The British Consulate can give you advice about this.
Deaths in disasters abroad.
If the deceased has been killed in a disaster abroad, natural or otherwise, ask the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for help. Its staff will provide support and advice. The main enquiry phone number is: 020 7008 1500 (open 24 hours)
When a deceased person is brought back into this country it is a legal requirement that the deceased MUST be identified, this will usually be done at your chosen Funeral Director's Chapel of Rest, and you will also be asked for information about your loved one, including a physical description of that person, such as any obvious physical marks, ie: birthmarks, old injuries, tatoos, etc, The name and address of the person's UK doctor or dentist, in case any more proof is required, and The police and the Coroner may also need a fairly recent photograph, which is a great help, and in some cases fingerprint samples from the deceased's house.
Injuries or deaths - Disaster Action website
If you require any further help, please call Kevin on 01406 259503 Or 01775 722567.