- A Guide to Funerals and Funeral Directors
Find a Funeral Director


A death abroad

When someone dies in a foreign country, the first thing to do is to contact the Foreign Office in the UK, or consular officials in the country in question (see You will be then guided through the procedures.

Most important of all, the death must be registered in the country in which the death has occurred. The British Embassy or High Commission will be able to advise you about how to do this and the paperwork you will need.

It is advisable to also register the death with the British Embassy or High Commission, although this is not compulsory. The advantage of doing so is that you will obtain a British death registration document, copies of which will always be available from General Register Office in the UK. The advantage of having a British one is that it won’t require translation and is likely to be more familiar to the authorities in the UK when you need to use it as proof of death. This is not necessary in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Irish Republic, South Africa or any of the UK overseas territories because the death certificates they issue are considered suitable for British purposes.

If you are in the UK, the Foreign Office will pass on your wishes about what to do with the deceased’s body to their staff in the relevant country, who will try to ensure they are carried out. However, you need to bear in mind that local laws may prevent this from happening – for example, in some countries all deaths have to have an autopsy, even if you don’t give your consent for one.

Suspicious deaths abroad will usually be investigated by the local police and criminal justice systems, although the Embassy or High Commission will try to keep you up to date on how their investigations are progressing. They cannot conduct investigations themselves or pay legal fees, but they will advise you about enlisting a local solicitor and interpreter if you need them to.


To bring a body back to the UK, it will need to be embalmed and placed in a zinc-lined coffin. The Embassy or High Commission where the death occurred can put you in touch with an international undertaker. Unfortunately, there can often be delays, especially if an autopsy needs to be performed.

You will need three documents to repatriate a body: a certified English translation of the death certificate issued by the country where the death occurred; authorization to remove the body from the country, and a certificate of embalming.


If the deceased was covered by travel insurance that included repatriation costs, the insurance company must be contacted swiftly to make the necessary arrangements. Otherwise, you will be expected to pay all the costs of transporting the body yourself.

YouTube Facebook App Store