Body repatriation from the UK to overseas
Repatriation is the process of returning a person’s body back to their place of origin or citizenship.
If your loved one passed away whilst living in the UK, or visiting on holiday, they may have requested for their body to be repatriated back to their home country for their funeral. Alternatively, you may arrange for a cremation to take place in the UK and for their ashes to be repatriated to their home country.
Repatriation of the deceased from the UK
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 outlined below will vary by location.
1. Notify relevant authorities about the death
To notify authorities about the passing of your loved one, you will need to follow the normal procedure to register the death in the UK.
2. Inform the coroner that you would like to repatriate the body overseas
Before you repatriate a body from the UK, you will need to notify the coroner in the area in which the deceased is resting. You will need to complete a ‘Form of notice to a Coroner of intention to remove a body out of England or Wales’ (form 104). This form will need to be completed four working days before the body is to be repatriated, so that any necessary enquiries can be made. You must inform the coroner, even if the death was expected.
The coroner should provide an ‘Out of England’ certificate.
As part of this process, you will also need to notify the consulate of the country where the deceased is being repatriated to. They will be able to confirm which documents will be needed for repatriation to take place. For transportation to some countries, a post-mortem is required. In some cases, the coroner may decide to order an inquest to determine how the person died. An inquest can sometimes take weeks or even months depending on the complexity of the case, so can delay repatriation.
If the person died in Scotland, but you would like to bury them overseas (which includes England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands), you will need a ‘Certificate of no Liability to Register’.
3. Arrange documentation
The consulate of the country where the deceased will be repatriated to will advise of any required documentation.
The documentation you may need includes:
- Acknowledgement from the coroner
- ‘Freedom from Infection Certificate’ showing the cause of death, and a declaration stating that “as far as the sanitary regulations are concerned, there is nothing to prevent the body being exported”
- Certificate of embalming
- The deceased’s passport
4. Prepare the body for repatriation
Before repatriation of the deceased can happen, the body will need to be prepared for transport. There is a legal requirement for your loved one to be embalmed before they can be transported overseas. A zinc-lined coffin is needed for transportation to most countries. For other countries, the coffin may need to be wrapped in specific packaging, such as hessian or bubble wrap. We advise you check with the relevant consulate, embassy or high commission of the country the body will be repatriated to obtain specific requirements.
How much does it cost to repatriate a body abroad?
Repatriation of a body from the UK to a foreign country can be costly.
Repatriation costs are often high because the body may not be able to travel via a scheduled airline service, although the cost of repatriation also depends on several other factors. This includes the country the deceased will be transported to, which coffin the family chooses and whether the coffin must be specially sealed. Repatriation costs will also depend on who the repatriation provider is.
It is important to note that, if your loved one was on a leisure trip to the UK and had travel insurance for their visit, repatriation costs may be covered within ‘medical emergency expenses’.
Is there an alternative to body repatriation?
Taking ashes overseas is an easier and more affordable alternative to body repatriation.
If you cannot afford or do not see the value in the cost of body repatriation for a funeral overseas, it will cost less to arrange a cremation for your loved one here in the UK, and subsequently transport their ashes.
Repatriating ashes of a loved one abroad, as opposed to body repatriation allows you to avoid the expense of embalming and transporting the body in a zinc-lined coffin.
Transporting the ashes outside of the UK is also more convenient than transporting a body, as some airlines will allow you to transport your loved one’s ashes as part of your hand luggage.
Travelling with ashes overseas
Taking ashes overseas is a lot easier than transporting a body; however, the guidelines on travelling with ashes abroad can vary depending on your destination. If you're planning to take ashes on a plane, you should contact your airline provider in advance. Your airline provider will normally advise you to:
- Take the ashes in your hand-luggage
- Be prepared for the ashes to be x-rayed. For this reason, the ashes should be stored in a non-metal container
- Label the container with your name, address and contact details
- Be prepared to declare the ashes at Customs
As well as contacting your airline provider, you should contact the consulate, embassy or high commission of the country you are travelling to.
For the repatriation of ashes, you will need:
- The death certificate
- The certificate of cremation
If possible, you should also take:
- A document from your Funeral Director or the crematorium stating that the urn contains the ashes of the deceased
- Proof of your relationship with the person who has died
If you will not be travelling abroad yourself, the safest option is to contact a courier that specialises in the repatriation of ashes. It is not possible to send cremated remains as you would a normal letter or package.
Arranging a direct cremation in the UK
If your loved one passes away whilst in the UK, and you are planning to hold a funeral or memorial service in their home country, a cremation without a service will save both your time and money.
In the UK, direct cremation is one of the most affordable funeral options, and is ideal for those who do not want a service or ceremony prior to cremation. A cremation takes place, without a procession beforehand and any mourners present. The direct nature of this service means there are no embalming fees. Following the cremation, you can request the ashes are returned to you (at an additional cost). This way, you can organise repatriation of ashes whenever you are ready.
A direct cremation costs significantly less than a traditional funeral arranged by a Funeral Director. At Simplicity, our direct cremation service costs just £995 and includes transportation from their place of rest, preparation in our quality mortuary facilities, a simple coffin, cremation and doctor’s fees and is available throughout the whole of mainland Great Britain.
We appreciate that an unattended direct cremation will not suit everyone. Should you prefer to attend the cremation in the UK, our Intimate Funeral allows up to 12 people to spend a short time in the crematorium chapel, to reflect and say a few words.
To arrange a simple direct cremation for your loved one, contact us today. Our team of funeral professionals are available 24 hours a day, every day of the year.