The death of a relative or friend is always distressing. But if it happens abroad the distress can be made worse by practical problems.
After the death of a loved one abroad you are likely to have countless questions. What should I do now? How can I communicate with people in a foreign language? Who can I turn to for advice?
If a relative or friend dies while you are abroad with them Make sure you have as much documentation as possible about the deceased and yourself. This should include:
All deaths must be registered in the country where the death occurs. Your tour guide, the local police or the British Consul can advise you how to go about this. If you are anxious about coping in a foreign language or about any other problem, the British Consul will be able to help.
- Full name.
- Date of birth.
- Passport number.
- Where and when the passport was issued.
- If you are not the closest relative yourself, next of kin of the deceased person.
If the deceased was known to be suffering from an infectious condition, for example the hepatitis or HIV viruses, it is essential that the authorities be told so that they can take precautions against infection.
If a close relative or friend dies abroad while you are in the UK If the death has been reported to a British Consulate overseas they will pass the details to the UK police who will immediately visit the next of kin and break the news.
If you hear of the death from a tour operator, the media, or any other third party you should contact the FCO on 020 7008 1500.
Consular staff in London will keep in touch with the family and the Consulate abroad until burial or cremation overseas or until the deceased has been brought back to the UK.
Consular staff in London will pass on to the Consulate overseas the wishes of the next of kin about disposal of the body. We will do our best to ensure these are carried out.
How can British Consuls help?
They can keep the next of kin informed. Their job is to ensure you do not feel you are on your own.
They can advise on the cost of local burial, local cremation and transport of the remains and personal property back to the UK.
They can provide a list of local funeral directors. If an English-speaking firm is not available, Consulate staff will help you with the arrangements.
Where there is evidence of suspicious circumstances they can press for an investigation by local authorities and pass on the results.
But a Consul cannot...
Investigate deaths themselves.
Pay burial or cremation expenses.
Pay for the return of bodies to the UK.
Pay any debts that may be outstanding.
The emotions you may experience after a major personal crisis such as the death of a loved one can be traumatic. It is important to remember that help is available.
See also Birth & Death FAQs