It’s distressing whenever someone dies, but it can become much more difficult when they die abroad and you don’t know the right people to speak to. Dealing with an unfamiliar system, often in an unfamiliar language, can add to the stress of bereavement.

Before you can return the deceased to the UK, you will need to:

  1. Contact the British representative stationed in that country, such as the British embassy.
  2. Register the death in the foreign country and then in the UK.
  3. Decide whether to hold the funeral abroad or in the UK.
  4. If you plan to bring the body home, make arrangements for transporting the body.

 

Who can help when someone dies abroad?

You can seek help from the British authorities by contacting the nearest British embassy, High Commission or Consulate. They will give you practical advice on what to do next, help with funeral arrangements and all other formalities including inquests and any translations that may be required.

What to do if you’re at home when the person dies abroad

The British Consulate in the country where the person has died will contact the UK police for a next-of-kin. They will then get in touch with you to inform you.

If you hear of the death from anyone else, for example a tour operator, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 020 7008 1500. They will keep you informed and help with arrangements.

What to do if you’re travelling abroad with someone when they die

Find your nearest British embassy, High Commission or Consulate. Typically, these can be found in capital cities.

If you are on a package holiday, tell your holiday representative as soon as possible and then they can help with arrangements. Some of the bigger tour operators have welfare teams who can help you with the next steps.

How do I register a death that happened abroad?

Before you can bring the body home, you must first register the death in the UK and have the following information:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Passport number
  • Where and when the passport was issued
  • Details of the next-of-kin, if you’re not the closest relative

You need to do this first in the country where the person died, but different countries will have different protocol on how to do this – the British Consul can advise you on this or you can search for yourself on gov.uk. You will then need to register the death with the Foreign and Commonwealth office in the UK.

How do I arrange a funeral when someone has died abroad?

If the deceased’s funeral costs are covered by travel insurance, contact the insurance company immediately. They will usually have a repatriation team that will take care of returning the body to the UK.

If you are not covered by insurance, you will be expected to pay all costs. With costs running into thousands of pounds, many people make the decision to hold the funeral overseas. Alternatively, you can arrange to have the body returned to the UK – otherwise known as repatriation. This may be covered by the deceased’s insurance, but will vary from policy to policy.

To hold the funeral in the UK, there are international funeral directors who can oversee the repatriation process and assist with finding all relevant documents. The funeral director will fly out to make the necessary arrangements, including preparation of the body and liaising with family. Before you can hold the funeral, you will need the following documents:

  • A certificate of embalming
  • Authorisation to remove the body from the country
  • A certified English translation of the death certificate from the country where the person died

If you need help finding a funeral director to arrange a funeral when someone has died overseas, you can use Beyond to search for a funeral director and compare their services and prices. Just make sure that the funeral directors are aware of the circumstance.

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