top of page

A Death Abroad

A death abroad will usually fall into one of the following categories:


  • Repatriation - This is where a person has died outside of the UK, and you wish for their remains to be transferred back to the UK for burial or cremation.

  • Expatriation - This is where a person has died in the UK, and you wish for their remains to be transferred to another country for burial or cremation.

We have a great deal of experience in dealing with both of the above scenarios. The below is a general guide of what will happen, although if you have specific questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Please note that repatriation can be expensive, especially if there is no insurance policy in place. It may be more cost effective and simpler to consider a cremation local to where the person died, and repatriate the cremated remains. If you wish to do this, the local British Embassy will be able to advise of local funeral arrangements. If you want the UK Coroner to perform an inquest, you should not arrange a cremation abroad.

Funeral Repatriation

If a friend or relative dies abroad and you are in the UK, you should contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on 020 7008 1500, and also the travel insurance company of the deceased. As requirements for the transfer of a deceased person differ greatly from country to country, it is best to use the above sources to make local arrangements for the deceased to be transferred to the UK. Most insurance policies will include the transport of the deceased to our Chapel of Rest in the UK.


If you are travelling with someone who has died, you should contact their travel insurance company, the tour operator if on a package holiday, and also the nearest British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. As requirements for the transfer of a deceased person differ greatly from country to country, it is best to use the above sources to make local arrangements for the deceased to be transferred to the UK. Most insurance policies will include the transport of the deceased to our Chapel of Rest in the UK.


It is possible for you to travel on the same plane as the deceased, however, please advise whoever is arranging the flights at the earliest opportunity if you want to do this as it may affect the arrangements.


Once the deceased is back in the UK, there will be no difference in cost for a funeral than if someone died in the UK. Usually, due to the metal requirements for international transport, the coffin used will not be suitable for the funeral and you will need to select a new coffin, because of this, it is not advisable to choose an expensive coffin for transportation.


We must inform the coroner of the death. They will decide if a post-mortem is required, if it is, they will issue the paperwork to allow the funeral to take place. If no post-mortem is required, a 'Certificate of No-Liability to Register' needs to be obtained from the registrar local to where the cremation or burial will take place. Usually, we will be able to obtain this for you.


Registering a death abroad

All deaths must be registered according to the local procedures where the death occurred. Please contact the FCO or nearest British Embassy for advice on how to do this. The following information will be needed about both yourself and the person that has died:


  • Full Name

  • Date of Birth

  • Passport Number

  • Where and when the passport was issued

  • Name of the Next of Kin (if not yourself)


You also have the option to register the death in the UK, although this is not required, and does incur a cost. If you do, the death will be registered with the General Register Office and you can order a Consular Death Certificate. This will make it much easier to obtain an official copy of the death certificate if required in the future. If you wish to do this you will need the following:


  • The original local death certificate

  • A photocopy of the picture page of the passport of the deceased

  • Their original birth certificate (if you can't provide their passport)

  • Written permission to register the death from the next of kin or executor (if not yourself)

  • English translations of all foreign documents by an approved translator

  • Death Registration Form

Funeral Expatriation

In order to transport the remains of a deceased person abroad, there are a number of things that must take place:


  • The death must be registered in line with normal procedures.

  • We are required to notify the coroner, this does not mean that a post-mortem will take place, it is simply a legal requirement.

  • Unless there is a religious objection, the deceased must be embalmed.


If the deceased suffered from a highly infectious disease, it is possible that transportation of the full body may not be permitted, meaning you may have to have a cremation in the UK and transport the cremated remains.


Once the above has been completed, we will provide a simple coffin to transport the deceased, and arrange flights. It is possible to arrange for you to travel with the deceased, please inform us of this as soon as you can if it is something you want to do, it may affect what flights we are able to use and therefore cost. Unless instructed otherwise, we will arrange for the deceased to fly from the nearest suitable airport, usually Manchester or Gatwick, dependent upon destination. The following paperwork is required:


What you need to provide:

  • 2 original death certificates

  • The passport of the deceased

  • Details of who will be collecting the deceased from the destination

  • Details of where the deceased is to be buried/cremated


What we will obtain/produce:

  • Free from Infection Certificate

  • Embalming Certificate

  • Funeral Director's declaration as to the contents of the coffin

  • Out of England Certificate from the Coroner

  • Air Way Bill


Transporting cremated remains abroad

The majority of countries treat the transport of cremated remains very differently from transport of a full body, although there are exceptions. The majority of airlines will permit the transport of cremated remains, but you should check directly with them. Assuming that you wish to transport the remains personally, the following procedure should be followed:


  • The remains must be carried in hand luggage, in a non-metallic container that can be x-rayed.

  • The cremated remains certificate provided by the crematorium, along with a declaration from the crematorium or ourselves of what the remains are must be carried with the remains.

  • You should also carry an official copy of the death certificate, and if possible, a photocopy of the photo page of the deceased's passport.

  • You must go through the 'Items to declare' line at customs and present the above documentation, there may be a fee payable locally when you go through customs.

If you do intent to take the cremated remains abroad, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can confirm any local requirements. It can sometimes take time to gain the correct documentation and permissions. Failure to provide the correct documentation could mean they are not permitted to enter the country.


If you do not want to transport the remains yourself, we can arrange for them to be taken via courier, please note that this is only possible up to the nearest international airport to the final destination that is served by a UK airport, we are unable to arrange in-country transport and the remains will need to be collected from the airport and customs cleared as normal. The documentation required is usually the same as if you had transported the remains yourself. UK transport will be arranged door to door and you would only need to provide the remains and the cremated remains certificate from the crematorium.


Please note that courier services can be expensive, but cremated remains are not permitted to be sent via normal post, and not all couriers are willing to accept cremated remains.

Countries currently known to have additional requirements to the above:

France, Italy, India, Jamaica, Poland, Philippines, Spain, China.

If you are unsure at any point what you need to do, please don't hesitate to get in touch

Plane Flying at dawn
bottom of page