When someone dies abroad
Whether your loved one lived abroad or was on a holiday, their death must be registered in the country where it occurred. The process can vary a lot between different countries, so it’s a good idea to get help from a local tour guide or police, or from the British authorities, such as the British embassy, high commission or consulate.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has information on how to register a death abroad and order a consular death registration certificate. The British embassy or consulate in the country where your loved one died can also provide support.
If your loved one has died abroad, there are different rules for bringing them home, depending on whether the body will be cremated abroad first or not.
- To bring the body home, you’ll need a certified English translation of the death certificate and permission from the coroner (or equivalent in the country where the death occurred).
- To leave a country with human ashes, you will normally need to show the death certificate and the certificate of cremation. Each country has its own rules about removing human ashes and there may be other requirements. Contact your airline to find out whether you can carry the ashes as hand luggage or as checked-in luggage.
Registering a death that occurred overseas
Wherever your loved one died, you must register the death according to the regulations in that country. Ask the local embassy, consulate or high commission what information it will need to do this.
You will be given a local death certificate, although this does not always record the cause of death. The document will be accepted in the UK, but you may need to get a certified translation if it’s not in English.
You can also apply to register the death with the UK authorities. You don’t have to do this, but if you do, it means the death will be recorded with the General Register Offices (for England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or the National Records Office (for Scotland). To do this (and in addition to the details listed above), you must provide:
- the original local death certificate (not a certificate issued by a doctor)
- a photocopy of the photo page of the passport of the person who died
- their original full UK birth, naturalisation or registration certificate (if you can’t provide their passport)
- written permission from the next of kin or the executor of their estate (if you’re not next of kin or the executor).
You can also order a consular death registration certificate. This is when the Foreign and Commonwealth Office registers the death at both the local consulate and in the UK. You don’t have to do this, but it ensures there is a local record of the death where it occurred. It costs £150, with copies of the certificate priced at £50.
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