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Repatriation of a body from England and Wales to another country.

When a death occurs in England and Wales and it is intended to take the body to another country for a funeral service and then to bury or cremate the deceased person, there are a number of practical and administrative issues to deal with.

There is no restriction on moving bodies within England and Wales, but you need to notify the coroner for the district in which the body is lying if you want to move the deceased to Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands or overseas.  This procedure applies to all cases where the body is to be moved out of England and Wales, not just when the death was reported to the coroner.

The death must be registered in the usual way, by attending the Register Office. You must also contact the Coroners’ Office to make them aware that you wish to move the body abroad and will need to complete a Form 104 (Form of Notice to a Coroner of Intention to Remove a Body out of England).This form can be obtained from either the Registrar who registered the death, the Coroner’s Office or from the funeral director you have chosen to undertake the repatriation. The Coroner will need to see any certificate for burial or cremation issued by the Registrar.

The Coroner requires at least four working day’s notice before the body is to be moved so that any necessary enquiries can be made. In urgent situations it may be possible to bring this forward and, if necessary, you should contact the Coroner’s Office in advance for advice.

The Coroner or your appointed funeral director will provide you with a Form 103 (an acknowledgment of Form 104 by the Coroner), in order that arrangements can be made for the body to be moved.

Your funeral director will guide you through the documents that may be required by the country concerned:

  • Acknowledgement from the Coroner (Form 103).
  • Certified Copy of an Entry from the Registrar (Death Certificate).
  • Passport of the deceased.
  • Certificate of embalming of the deceased.
  • Declaration by funeral director as to the contents of the coffin.
  • Freedom from Infection Certificate.
  • Permission from the appropriate consulate for disposal.

It is sensible not to make any flight bookings or funeral arrangements until the coroner’s acknowledgment (Form 103) has been issued and the appropriate documents obtained, in case there are any difficulties with the application.

To make arrangements for transporting the body, it is best to consult a funeral director who specialises in this type of work and has expertise in particular countries and airlines. It may also be appropriate to contact the country’s consulate for their advice and recommendations.

Repatriation will incur additional costs, for example, the deceased will need to be embalmed and then secured in a zinc lined coffin. The cost of the flight itself and expenditure in the destination country, together with consular charges also need to be considered.

Freedom from Infection Certificate

Some countries require a Freedom from Infection Certificate before they will allow a body into their country.  The certificate, if issued, confirms that no infectious diseases of epidemic proportions occurred within the area of the Environmental Officers district for some three months preceding the death.

The Environmental Health Section in the district of where the person died, or from which they are to be exhumed before reburial elsewhere, issues the certificate. A certificate can also be issued by a doctor or a pathologist.

The funeral director usually handles the formality of obtaining the Freedom from Infection Certificate, however anyone can apply.

Cremated Remains Taken from England and Wales to Another Country

A less expensive alternative is to arrange for a cremation in the UK followed by the repatriation of the cremated remains. Cremated remains may be carried to some countries in hand luggage accompanied by a Death Certificate, a certificate from the crematorium and, sometimes if appropriate, a Consular Seal. This will need to be checked with the appropriate consulate as each country has its own regulations.

Not everyone will be comfortable in carrying cremated remains in their hand luggage, but this will be a matter of personal choice.

There are no legal restrictions about taking cremated remains out of the UK, however, the country that you are taking them to may have their own regulations. For instance Greece treats cremated remains like an exhumed body and won’t let them into the country until a year after the death and Italy requests that the container of cremated remains is sealed by the consulate. Regulations can vary and you should check with the relevant consulate or embassy well in advance of travel.

Exhumed Remains

If exhumed remains are to be repatriated, then additional rules and conditions apply.

Repatriation of a Body From Another Country to England and Wales

The death of a loved one is a distressing time and the thought of registering the death in another country and making funeral arrangements can be daunting.  If the deceased was not a resident of the country in which they died, this process can seem all the more complicated, especially where it is the wish of the family that the deceased be returned to their home country.

A tour operator, the local police or the British Consul can advise you on how to register the death and make arrangements for a local funeral director to repatriate the deceased to the United Kingdom.  The British Consul can also help if you need assistance communicating in a foreign language.  The Foreign & Commonwealth Office can assist in locating a British consulate and provide helpful information about deaths abroad.

Where the deceased had a valid travel insurance policy, repatriation and its costs may be arranged and met by the insurers if specified in the cover document.

Repatriation may incur additional costs, for example the deceased will need to be embalmed and then secured in a zinc lined coffin. The cost of the flight itself and costs in the destination country also need to be considered. Very often the transportation coffin does not meet with UK requirements and the body will need to be placed into a coffin suitable for either burial or cremation before the funeral can proceed.

If a cremation can be arranged in the country where the death occurred, the cremated remains can be repatriated to the UK following the cremation and incur considerably less cost.

When a death occurs abroad and it is intended to bring the deceased back home and to arrange a funeral service in the United Kingdom, there are a number of administrative and practical issues to deal with.

In all cases, appropriate arrangements for the reception and disposal of the body in the country of destination need to be made prior to departure.

The coroner in whose district the deceased is due to rest following its repatriation must be informed in all cases. Upon arrival in England or Wales all accompanying documents must be submitted to the coroner’s officers who will positively identify the deceased person and make initial enquiries into the cause of the death.

They will report their findings to the coroner who may either:

  • Hold an inquest to establish the cause of death.
  • Issue Cremation Form 6 to allow a cremation to proceed.
  • Issue a Burial Order to allow a burial to proceed.
  • Instruct the registrar of births and deaths to issue a Certificate of Non Liability to Register.