The Covid-19 coronavirus epidemic has increased the possibility of a UK resident dying abroad while on holiday. Therefore it’s become more important to know what to do if this happens.
It’s bad enough having to deal with bereavement, and continue on despite deep emotional pain. Discovering how to deal with unfamiliar systems is an added burden. Fortunately, the British authorities are there to help with advice.
If you were traveling with the deceased at the time, then the nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate will know what to do. Package tour operators should also help if you speak to their representative at the resort. Some large tour operators have welfare teams according to Citizen’s Advice.
It’s a Different Ball Game if You Are in the UK
The British Consulate in the country where the person died should ask the UK police to notify the next of kin. If you hear of the death in another way, call the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. They will monitor the situation in the host country and keep you up to date.
1… Your first step is to register the death in the country where it occurred, and obtain a death certificate. The British Consul will explain how to do this.
You may also be able to register the death at the applicable British embassy, high commission or consulate in which case they will issue a UK-style document
2… If you register the death in person, then you need to know the deceased’s full name, date of birth, passport number, where and when the passport was issued, and next-of-kin if you are not that person.
3… The next of kin may decide whether to have a funeral and cremation / burial in the host country, or repatriate the body to the UK from abroad. In the latter case you will have to appoint an international undertaking firm.
They will require an English translation of any foreign birth certificate, authorisation to uplift the body, and an embalmer’s certificate. After the body arrives the Registrar of Births, Death and Marriages must approve the burial (or the Home Office before the cremation).
4… Repatriation is expensive so you must know the costs in advance before committing, and how you will afford it. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not pay burial, cremation or repatriation expenses. Check carefully in case the deceased arranged travel insurance and what this covers / excludes.
At this point in time, and if you are claiming benefits, a member country in the European Union may pay for the funeral from their social fund. Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway may also be able to assist.
5… Speak to the relevant British embassy if you suspect there are suspicious circumstances. They will explain who the local authorities are, and how to go about this. They should also be able to advise how to get legal advice.
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