What to Do When Someone Dies Abroad

Information on how to repatriate a loved one back to the UK

Last updated: 21 June 2017

This guide will help you understand what to do when a loved one dies abroad and how the repatriation process works.

1. Notify the British authorities

If you are with your loved one when they die abroad, you should contact the nearest British embassy, High Commission or Consulate. They will be able to offer advice and help you with arrangements. If you are on a package holiday, tour operators or reps may be able to put you in touch with the right authorities.

If you are at home in the UK when a loved dies abroad, you may be informed of the death by a member of your local police force or the British Consulate. If you are informed by someone else, be sure to contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to seek help and advice.

2. Register the death

You must register the death in the country where your loved one died. The British Consul can help you do this.

You will then need to register the death with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as well. You can get detailed information on how to register the death by filling in a short form online.

When you register a death you will need to provide personal information for yourself and your loved one, including passport number, date of issue and place of issue.

3. Check for repatriation insurance

Before beginning the repatriation process, it is important to check whether your loved one had taken out travel insurance. Most travel insurance policies include repatriation insurance, which could help with fees and other expenses.

If your loved one was on a package holiday, the tour operator may know details of their travel insurance and any repatriation cover.

4. Begin the repatriation process

If you want to hold a funeral for your loved one in the UK, they will need to be repatriated. You will need the following documentation for repatriation:

  • A death certificate from the country where the death occurred
  • Permission to deport your loved one from the country
  • A certificate for embalming

When a foreign death certificate is issued in a language other than English, it will need to be professionally translated to be accepted by the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages in the UK. Without this translated document, your loved one cannot be buried or cremated in the UK.

A coroner may be contacted to examine your loved one once they return to the UK. This is a common procedure when a death happens unexpectedly, and it is often conducted to verify the cause of death.

In most cases, you will be asked to submit the translated foreign death certificate to the registry office closest to where you plan to have the funeral. They will be able to issue you with a certificate that allows a burial to take place. If you want a cremation, you will need a Home Office cremation order. The paperwork for a cremation order is usually available from the crematorium.

Once you have these documents allowing burial or cremation, you can proceed with the funeral arrangements.

5. Make funeral arrangements

Many funeral directors can help with the repatriation process, as well as other funeral arrangements. Some funeral directors specialise in repatriation and have years of experience bringing loved ones home.

Compare funeral directors in your local area for expert help with the entire process.

If you wish for your loved one to have a funeral outside of the UK, find out how you can repatriate your loved one to another country.