The following is basic guidance in the event of someone passing away whilst abroad. There are some basic steps to follow if the family decides to repatriate the body back to the UK for burial. Not all of the steps may be applicable and most will depend on the family’s particular circumstances, the laws of the country where the person died and the circumstances around the person's death. The following information, therefore, should be treated as guidance in general.
What to do abroad.
The family must first report the death to the local authorities and following due process have the death registered in the country where the person died.
They must also obtain a Death Certificate from the local authorities which clearly states the Cause of Death.
They must obtain permission from the local coroner (or equivalent) to remove the body aboard.
Any and all formal documentation acquired abroad and if in a foreign language, must be translated into English and verified accordingly.
We also advise that the family contact the British Consulate or British Embassy for assistance, as they will have accurate information on what to do in that particular country in such circumstances. They will also have a list of approved international funeral directors who should provide assistance with repatriation. The deceased passport will be required if the body is to be repatriated back to the UK.
What to do when the body arrives in the UK.
If the death is known, natural and there is to be a burial, the Coroner does not need to be involved. Once the body arrives in the UK, the Death Certificate should be taken to the Registrar of Birth & Deaths (in the area where the funeral is taking place), and as the death has already been registered abroad, the Registrar will provide a ‘Certificate Of No Liability' to register’. This should be given to the funeral director so the funeral can go ahead.
If the death was unknown or suspicious the local Coroner will have to be informed of the repatriation. The family’s appointed local Funeral Director will be responsible for doing this. They will also have to provide the coroner with all the documentation obtained by the family abroad, following the person's death.
Note: The local Coroner cannot begin to process any documentation in advance of the body’s arrival to the UK. The body will need to be present within their particular jurisdiction and formally identified, with a statement produced confirming the identity.
In most instances, where the death is not suspicious, the family will be instructed by the Coroner the take the foreign Death Certificate to the Registrar of Birth and Deaths covering the area where the funeral is to take place. As the death was reported and already registered abroad, the local Registration Service will provide the family with a "certificate of no liability to register". This document must be provided to the Funeral Director and the Local Authority in order for the funeral to take place.
More detailed information can be found by visiting the following link: https://www.gov.uk/after-a-death/death-abroad