Bereavement Abroad

What to Do if Someone dies Abroad
It can be a challenging and emotional time when someone passes away, but it may seem even more distressing if they die abroad.

If you are abroad together
If you are travelling or holidaying abroad with someone and they pass away, the first steps you need to take are:

  • Contact the nearest British embassy (or High Commission/Consulate)
  • If you are on an organised tour, let the organisers know what has happened
  • If you are staying in a resort, let a representative know
  • Most holiday resorts and organisations have welfare representatives who can help you during this emotional time. You can also contact family at home and speak with them if you are at a loss of what to do.
  • If you are travelling abroad and staying at an Airbnb, or accommodation that is not booked under an organisation, you may want to contact your family first. Then let the local police know, as they will be able to help you get in touch with the nearest British embassy.

If they are abroad and you are not

  • If a loved one dies abroad while you are at home in the UK, the British consulate is legally obligated to contact the next-of-kin. You may find out from the embassy itself, or the police force may be instructed to tell you.
  • If you find out through a package holiday representative, or tour operator for example, it is important to contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. They will keep you up to date with what’s happening and can help you decide arrangements.
  • Finding out about a loved one’s death when you are not with them is a confusing, difficult situation. There are steps you must take when this happens but remember you can always ask family or close friends to help you.

Registering a death abroad
You must register your loved one’s death in the country where they passed away. If you are unsure about how to do this, your nearest British embassy will be able to help you.It is important to note that you must also register the death with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. If your loved one died while on a ship or plane, you must register the death in the country that the ship or plane is registered to and not where the ship or plane was at the time of death. The British embassy can help you get hold of this information. More information about registering a death abroad can be found on the web site

How to bring the body home
Bringing a body home from abroad can be straightforward process. To bring your loved one
home, follow these steps:

  • Obtain an English translation of the Death Certificate
  • Get permission to bring the body home – this is usually granted by a coroner in the country where your loved one passed away
  • Inform a coroner at home if the death was sudden, violent or unnatural – an investigation will need to be conducted

When your loved one’s body is returned home, you must take the translation of the Death Certificate to the register office, in the location where you would like the funeral to be conducted.

How to bring a body back from abroad for a UK funeral
If a loved one dies abroad, most families will go through the process of bringing the body home for a funeral in the UK. This process is known as Body Repatriation.
Repatriation simply means returning the deceased to their country of origin.
The following is breakdown of how to begin the body repatriation process for your loved one:

  • Notify British authorities - you will need to inform the nearest British embassy of your loved one’s death before you can begin repatriating their body. Find out who to notify after a death.
  • Register the death - do this at a register office where your loved one died. Then,you will need to get the Death Certificate translated and liaise with the coroner. They will be able to give you permission to repatriate the body.
  • Find out if the individual had repatriation insurance - repatriating a body can be costly. There are considerations such as embalming expenses and shipping costs,and the bureaucracy of the entire process. Therefore, it is important to check your loved one’s insurance policy. Many travel insurance companies will include body repatriation as part of their policy but dying abroad with no insurance could result in the next-of-kin having to pay fees. Once you have all the relevant documentation and permissions granted, you will be able to repatriate your loved one’s body back home.

The following sites were referenced for information contained within this document:
 Dignity Funeral: