Repatriation: What to Do When a Loved One Dies Abroad

When a loved one dies it can be incredibly stressful to think about their funeral, this is especially true if they have passed away abroad. There are a number of official processes that have to be completed prior to repatriating a loved one back to their home country. For this reason, we’ve written this guide to help navigate the process so it’s less stressful and more manageable.

What is repatriation?

You may not have come across the meaning of repatriation before but in short, it’s used to describe the transportation of a loved one after they have passed away back to their home county. As this is between countries, there are a number of procedures to complete before you can repatriate a loved one.

What to do if a loved one dies abroad?

If a loved one dies abroad and you would like to bring them back home to the UK, you will need to arrange UK repatriation. There are a few steps to this process which can seem daunting, but the repatriation service you choose will take care of most of the process for you.

A lot of travel insurance services will include repatriation as a part of the policy, so be sure to check in advance. At Funeral Partners, we can help you manage the process and keep the costs down as much as possible.

  1. Contact the relevant authorities

The first thing you need to do when a loved one passes away abroad, is to inform the local authorities in the country in which they died. This will involve contacting the British embassy, High Commission or Consulate. These authorities will offer advice and provide support to help you manage the process of repatriation.

  1. Register the death

In order to begin the process of repatriation and to be able to return your loved one to the UK, you will have to register their death. This will need to take place in the country where your loved one passed and must follow the local regulations on the matter. British authorities along with the local police will be able to guide you through the registration, but it’s important you remember to bring the following documents in order to proceed:

  • Your passport
  • Their passport
  • Details of their next of kin (if not yourself)
  1. Organise the appropriate documentation

Along with the death certificate, you will also need the correct paperwork to grant you the right to repatriation. If you are preparing for repatriation to the UK, the required documents include:

  • Your loved one’s passport
  • Death certificate (with a certified English translation)
  • Certificate of embalming

If you are unsure of how to obtain all these documents, the British Consulate as well as our funeral directors can help you.

  1. Transport your loved one home

Knowing how to repatriate a loved one back to the UK isn’t typically common knowledge, but our funeral directors will be able to assist you with the best transport options available. More often than not it is done by air but in some cases, it can be road or sea. The cost of repatriation will depend on the service you choose. If your loved one was covered with travel insurance, repatriation is usually included. 

  1. Arriving in the UK

Once your loved one has been brought home to the UK, there are a few things that you’ll need to do:

  • Report the death to the coroner – they will review the circumstances of the death to decide if the funeral can proceed or further investigation is required.
  • A certificate for cremation or burial is required. For cremation this will come from the Coroner’s Office. For burial it will usually come from the Registrar’s Office.

NB* The Coroner or Registrar applicable will be for the jurisdiction of the chosen Cemetery or Crematorium. 

  1. Arranging the funeral

It is hard to say exactly when your loved one will arrive in the UK as the timescales vary from country to country. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait until your loved one is home to start making funeral arrangements. You can start before the repatriation process begins. This can make things a little easier for you and your family when your loved one does arrive in the UK. It would be best to not book a date and time for the funeral until you are sure when the cremation of burial certificate will be issued. At Funeral Partners, we’re always available to help with professional advice and support for both repatriation and any funeral arrangement services you may require.

If you wish to book repatriation services or have any queries on the matter, please contact your local Funeral Director who will be able to assist you directly.

Step by step guide

There are several steps in the Funeral Planning process you will have to consider.

Types of funerals​

There are a number of different types of funerals available. Which type of funeral service is right for your loved one?

What happens at a cremation service?

Cremations are fast becoming the norm in Britain with over 70% of families choosing this type of

Further Reading: Cost of a funeral

Find out about funeral costs and what financial support could be available.