Body Repatriation From EU

Body Repatriation From UK

Going Back Home: A Step by Step Guide on the Repatriation Process from the UK

The first logical nightmare in the event of death overseas is the repatriation process. Repatriation is important for many families abroad who believe relatives must be buried in their homeland, but as more people move to the diaspora, repatriations and the costs associated with them rise. In the context of death, repatriation simply means to transport the person who died- either their body, or their ashes- to another country.

Arranging repatriation can seem daunting, but once you’ve chosen a repatriation service provider to take care of it, their team will do a terrific job on your behalf. This can make the whole process a little less draining for you. When repatriating a body out of the UK, it’s important to check the specific requirements for the country concerned, as some of the steps below can vary by location.

Notify the relevant authorities about the death

First off, you will need to contact the UK authorities and the relevant embassy to tell them that the person has died. As part of this process, you should also notify the consulate of the country where the deceased is being repatriated to. By doing so, they will be able to confirm what documents will be needed in order for the repatriation to take place. This step is important, as the documents required vary by country.

Inform the coroner that you’d like to repatriate the body overseas

This is done via a ‘Form of notice to a Coroner of intention to remove a body out of England or Wales’. The prescribed period which must elapse after the receipt of the notice by the coroner is four (4) days.

If the coroner states that they are satisfied there is no requirement to make further enquiries concerning the death, the body may be removed at any time after the acknowledgement has been received by the person to whom it is addressed.

In the case of urgency, where the family would prefer not to wait the full period of four clear days, they may be able to proceed earlier if the coroner agrees. The form of notice to a coroner must be accompanied by a copy of the registrars ‘Certified Copy of an Entry of Death’.

The coroner acknowledges receipt of their formal notice by issuing Form 103 ‘Form of acknowledgement by the coroner.’

The coroner will issue ‘Out of England’ certificate

Once the decision is made to repatriate the body out of England and Wales, the local coroner should be approached for an ‘Out of England’ certificate. If the person died in Scotland, but you’d like to bury them overseas (which can include England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands), then you’ll need:

  • Certificate of no Liability to Register – you can get this from the registrar at the place of burial in England or Wales
  • Death Certificate, or letter from the Procurator Fiscal (coroner) in Scotland – provide this to the registrar and sign a declaration form at the office in England or Wales

Every country has different regulations, so it will depend on where you would like to bury the deceased. Some countries insist on investigating before the body can be repatriated from Scotland. If this is the case, the Procurator Fiscal will be involved to issue a Furth of Scotland letter to the person responsible for moving the body.

If you wish to repatriate a body from Northern Ireland, you’ll need to follow the same procedure as you would in England or Wales.

Determine whether a post-mortem is needed

For transportation to some countries, this is an essential requirement. Depending on the results of the post-mortem, the coroner may decide to order an inquest to determine how the person died.

Arrange the relevant documents

To make sure you have everything you need, you should contact the consulate of the country where the deceased will be repatriated to. The documents you may need include:

  • Acknowledgement from the coroner – Form 103, a ‘Certified Copy of an Entry’ from the Registrar
  • ‘Freedom from Infection Certificate’ showing cause of death, and a declaration from the doctor stating that “as far as the sanitary regulations are concerned, there is nothing to prevent the body being exported”
  • Certificate of embalming (although this isn’t always required, most countries will require this as standard procedure)
  • The deceased’s passport

Your local funeral service provider will provide help and support with this, should you need it.

Prepare the body for repatriation

Before repatriation can take place, the body will need to be prepared for transporting.

This will include:

  • Embalming the body – will delay changes to the deceased’s body and gives them a more restful appearance
  • Provision of a zinc-lined coffin – this is often required for transporting a body overseas
  • Correct size of coffin – the coffin or casket size must be checked to make sure that it is acceptable, particularly if there is to be onward transmission by a smaller aircraft later in the journey
  • Suitable packing for coffin – this varies depending on the country to which the body is being transported, but can include requirements such as wrapping the coffin in hessian, or bubble-wrapping

How much does it cost to repatriate a body abroad?

The cost of repatriation depends on several factors. These include where the deceased is going, which coffin the family choose and whether the coffin must be hermetically sealed (airtight). It is difficult to advise on costs, however, these could range from £2,000 to £4,000.

How long does it take to repatriate a deceased person abroad?

The time scales for this are difficult to predict. Although all circumstances can differ, on average it approximately takes two weeks to organise for a body to be repatriated abroad.

The Diaspora Funeral Cash Plan offers up to US$20,000 cash claim for its members. You may use this claim money to pay for the body repatriation process should you or your loved one die whilst abroad.

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