How to Arrange Repatriation for a Funeral Overseas
Repatriation refers to the process of returning the deceased to their country of origin or citizenship for their funeral services. If the funeral service of a loved one is taking place abroad, then it is necessary to abide by legal requirements regarding repatriation for a funeral overseas. However, at an already emotionally painful time, the very thought of trying to organise a funeral abroad may end up leaving you to feel overwhelmed or unsure as to the steps you need to follow. Here we have put together a how-to guide on what exactly it is you need to do when organising a funeral overseas, in the hope of making the process a little easier.
Notify the coroner
One of the very first steps you need to take when organising a funeral abroad is to notify the coroner. What we mean by this is is that if the body is being moved from England or Wales (there are no restrictions to the moving of bodies within England and Wales) to another destination such as Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands or another country, it is essential that the coroner is informed in the area in which the deceased is currently lying. You will typically inform a coroner through completing a form 104, otherwise known as a Removal Notice (‘Form of Notice to a Coroner of Intention to Remove a Body out of England’). You can get this form through either your funeral director or from the registrar who certified the death.
How long does this process take?
The coroner will then need to sign a completed Out of England form (Form 103) on receipt of form 104. This signed Form 103 will usually be given straight to your funeral director, providing that the application is approved and that the death is not currently under investigation. Providing that the death isn’t being investigated, you can expect that this form will be given to the funeral director within 1 to 2 working days. If a post-mortem is needed or any other type of investigation concerning the death, this form may take longer to receive.
Once approved, the coroner will inform you of when you may be able to organise the removal of the body to an overseas destination. In Scotland, it is advised that any requests are made at least four days before intended travel. However, if the person has died in Scotland, it is worth verifying with your funeral director as to whether you need to go through this exact process, as it is not always required for the authority of the Procurator Fiscal to be notified.
Other documents you may need
When applying for repatriation overseas you will need the following documents alongside a completed form 104, this includes:
- A completed application for the ‘removal of a body out of a country’ questionnaire. This can be either downloaded online or obtained from your funeral director
- The deceased’s passport
- The passport of whom has completed the Form 104 asking for the body to be repatriated
- A doctor’s identification certificate
- A death certificate from the registrar if the death is not being investigated
Whilst the death certificate should be obtained in the country where the person has died, it should then be registered with the British Consul so that there is a record held by the General Register Office of their death. Depending on the circumstances, you may also need the following documents:
- Freedom from Infection Certificate
- The certificate of the deceased’s embalming
- A declaration from the funeral director
Depending on the country, a Cadaver certificate may be needed before allowing the body to be brought into the country for burial. A Cadaver certificate verifies that there was no infectious disease for three months before the death and is given by the Environmental Health Officer for the Council in the place where the person died, or similarly where the body is going to be exhumed from.
How much does repatriating a body overseas cost?
In similarity with the rising costs of funeral services within the UK, the repatriation of a body overseas can end up becoming very expensive. This is due to the additional costs that need to be taken into consideration when organising a funeral service abroad, such as the costs of documents that allow repatriation, and the costs of caskets. Other costs that need to be factored in include:
- The cost of flights and expenditures in the destination country, and the cost of flights for those who want to attend the service, as well as any costs for catering and entertainment, should you want to hold a funeral reception
- The price of embalming for repatriation,, as they need to conform to legal requirements
- The final cost of the burial of a loved one or cremation where the body is being moved to. Typical repatriation costs from the UK to another destination abroad is about the same price as a funeral in the country, at an estimated £4,000. However, it is important to note that prices vary depending on the exact destination of where the deceased will be laid to rest
If you are struggling with the costs involved regarding repatriation of a body overseas, you could look at alternatives. For example, choosing to have the body cremated in the UK and then having the ashes repatriated could end up being less expensive than if it took place abroad. In addition, it should be checked whether or not the cost of repatriation is covered by an existing policy taken out by the deceased, such as in the form of a Whole of Life Insurance Policy. All terms and conditions should be checked thoroughly to determine whether repatriation costs are covered.
The ashes will most likely need to be accompanied with a death certificate, as well as confirmation from the crematorium who carried out the cremation. Depending upon the destination of where the remains will be repatriated to, you may also need a consular seal. In some countries, the ashes may be allowed to be taken as hand luggage. Nevertheless, it is important to check with your funeral director or consulate as to the exact regulations in place, as it differs from country to country.
For help paying for your funeral, you can purchase a funeral plan to offset the increasing costs. You can find more information on our website.