What to do when someone dies abroad

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When a loved one dies abroad, whether on holiday, travelling on business, or while living abroad, you will need to go through a different process to registering a death in the UK. The following is an overview of what to do when someone dies abroad.

1. Contact the authorities

If you are with your loved one abroad when they die, you should contact your tour guide, local police, British Embassy or Consulate as soon as possible. They will be able to advise you on how to register the death in the country you are in.

Provide the authorities with as much documentation as possible, such as their name, date of birth, passport number and your contact information.

If you are in the UK while your loved one was abroad, you may hear of their passing from UK police. British Consulate staff will try to inform next of kin as soon as possible, but sometimes this is not possible and you may hear of the death from a tour operator or another third party. If this happens, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and ask for the country desk – call 020 7008 1500.

2. Register the death abroad

You must register the death with the local authorities where your loved one passed away. Local police, your tour guide or the British Embassy will be able to guide you through this process.

In many countries you will also be able to register the death in the UK, even though your loved one died abroad. You can find out exactly what to do by filling a short form on gov.uk.

3. Check for a funeral plan

If your loved one had an Avalon funeral plan, they may have had a dual certificate plan that is valid in European countries where Avalon operates. For example, if your loved one had a second home in Portugal, a dual certificate would cover their funeral whether they passed away there or in the UK.

If they are covered by an Avalon funeral plan, a local Funeral Director in the country where they passed away will make funeral arrangements. Check your documentation for further information.

4. Check for repatriation insurance

Many holiday insurance policies include clauses relating to what happens if someone dies abroad and needs to be repatriated. Check your loved one’s insurance documents and get in touch with the insurance provider as soon as possible.

5. Make funeral arrangements

You must decide whether to make funeral arrangements for your loved one in the country where they died, or to bring them back to the UK for cremation or burial.

Repatriation

Bringing a loved one back to the UK for burial or cremation is called repatriation.

You will need a certified English translation of the Death Certificate and permission from the coroner (or equivalent) in the country where they died.

You will also need to arrange repatriation services. These are usually provided by specialist Funeral Directors who can help with arrangements. The cost of repatriation services varies widely depending on the country you are in and the cost of the flights.

Repatriating ashes

If you choose to have a cremation abroad, you can repatriate the cremation ashes. This means you can bring your loved one’s ashes back to the UK and scatter them, keep them in an urn at home, or inter them in a burial plot – whatever you wish.

Repatriating cremation ashes is simpler and more affordable than full repatriation. Check with your chosen airline before you travel if they have any restrictions. Some airlines may ask you to check in ashes with any hold luggage, while other airlines will let you bring them in your carry-on baggage.

As a precaution, carry copies of any documentation you have, such as the Death Certificate and cremation certificate. This will help if you are asked any questions by security.

Find out more about arranging a funeral for a loved one.