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Different steps are required to register the death of a loved one abroad and return them home depending on the country they passed away in. This can seem daunting at first, however the government has a procedure in place for every nation.

Registering a death overseas

The death of your loved one should be registered as soon as possible in the country they passed away in. You can find out about each nation’s procedures for death registration by visiting a British embassy or GOV.UK’s death registration form.

If the deceased passed away on a ship or aircraft, you should instead register their death with the nation the vehicle is registered to.

The country will then issue a local death certificate which you should post to:

The Overseas Registration Unit
PO Box 6255,
Milton Keynes,
MK10 1XX

You should send this, along with a copy of your loved one’s passport photo page, or birth certificate, and a completed death registration form. This will incur a fee of £150 which can be paid on GOV.UK.

You will also need to send written permission to register from the deceased’s next of kin or executor of their estate if you don’t fulfil either of these roles.

Local death certificates and accompanying documents issued in foreign languages need translating into English by an approved translator before being sent to the Overseas Registration Unit. GOV.UK lists a number of law firms across the world that can offer this service, as well as guidance on how to properly certify the translation.

The documents will be sent back to you by courier following registration in the UK. This will cost you £5.50 if they’re being sent to somewhere in the UK, £14.50 for most of Europe and £25 for everywhere else, and can be paid on GOV.UK.

Returning your loved one home from abroad

Returning your loved one to their home country will understandably be a top priority following their death.

The deceased can be transported back to the UK once you possess a certified English translation of their local death certificate and have permission from a coroner, or equivalent, in the country they passed away in. You must also inform a coroner in England at this stage if you believe your loved one’s death was violent or unnatural.

Your funeral director will need a certificate of no liability to lay your loved one to rest once they’ve returned to the UK. This can be obtained by bringing the local death certificate to the register office for the area in which the funeral is being held. Contact our funeral directors for help on identifying the registrar and making arrangements.

Different countries have varying rules for transporting human ashes, although they typically require the local death certificate and certificate of cremation to be evidenced. It’s advised to speak with the British embassy, consulate or high commission if you’re unsure about specific requirements.

Handling the death of a loved one abroad may appear daunting, but our funeral directors can provide further advice on how to lay your loved one to rest no matter where they are.

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