What to do if a relative dies abroad?

Make contact with an Irish Embassy or Consulate to assist in making arrangements for the return of the remains to Ireland. You may also contact your Funeral Director at home for assistance as they can liaise on your behalf with a Funeral Director in the country the death occurred to ensure that all legal requirements and relevant death certificates are in order and issued.

How much does repatriation cost?

This will varies greatly depending on location and whether you’re repatriating a body or Ashes. If repatriation by road is possible, we usually recommend this service as it comes with lower costs and less administrative challenges. Flying someone’s body home can cost between ~ €2,000 – 20,000. The fee depends on where they’re travelling to and from, and who the repatriation provider is. The average claim for repatriation from travel companies is about ~ €4,000, but your funeral Director can take you through the costs in your circumstances.

If you’re traveling to bring the ashes then the costs can be as little as the actual flight ticket.

How can I manage the cost of repatriating someone’s body?

Your best hope here will be that the relevant person has health insurance or took out travel insurance before they left, or you were travelling on a cruise or with a tour group. In which case all or most of the repatriation costs are likely to be covered by the company policy. It’s a good idea to contact them to find out if this is the case before you make arrangements. States that are not members of the European Union usually require more paperwork and permits which lead to additional costs.

Can I transport the deceased by myself?

Whilst cremated remains are typically allowed on all flights, you cannot arrange air or road transportation of human remains directly with an airline or a regular shipping company. Special requirements must  be met when transporting human remains – such as embalming, sealing the body in a special coffin and preserving it at a regulated temperature. Also, shipments of human remains are subject to the “known shipper” regulations.

Do I need to be in the country where a loved one died?

No. A signed letter / Online template granting your Funeral Director power of attorney can allow arrangements be made on your behalf. They can take care of everything else, even engaging a professional courier for ashes if this is your choice. 

How long does it take to bring a person back to their home country?

This depends on the country where the deceased is located and the country of destination. Every country has a specific set of rules and regulations that must be complied with in order for shipping of the deceased to take place. No shipping takes place without consulate approval. From the time of death, it usually takes two to five business days once all paperwork and requirements are completed. Funeral arrangements should not be finalised in the destination country until after the body arrives back with the paperwork completed.

If bringing a body to Ireland for burial or cremation do I require clearance from the coroner?

The repatriation of a body to Ireland must be notified to the coroner in Ireland for the district where the body is being flown to. If you have appointed a funeral director in Ireland, the funeral director will contact the appropriate coroner with the required documentation. Most bodies being repatriated to Ireland are flown to Dublin airport. In that case, it is the Dublin District Coroner who must be notified. The appropriate documentation in relation to the deceased has to be made available to the coroner for clearance by the coroner’s office. The documentation required includes:

  • Medical certificate giving cause of death.
  • Certification as to whether a post-mortem examination has been carried out or not.
  • Authorisation to remove the body from the other country.
  • Certificate to the effect that the body is not coming from an area of infectious disease.

Where there are some concerns as to the circumstances of the death, the coroner may direct that an examination of the body be carried out.

How to take fly/travel with cremated ashes?

  1. Bring proof of your relationship with the person who died.

  2. Contact the embassy/consulate you are headed to, to understand permits and any other related documents specific to your destination. Note that all countries are slightly different.

   3. Obtain the death certificate. 

        a. Note that here Multilingual death certs can be issued in all of the 24 official languages of the EU available for the issuing of Multilingual Standard Form. This can save translation, costs and time.

   4. Contact the airline you’re travelling with to ask what their guidelines are relating to.

        a. Whether Ashes can be checked in or must be taken on the plane in your carry-on luggage. Here we would recommend keeping the urn in your carry-on bag to avoid damage or ‘lost luggage’.

       b. Baggage allowance.

           i. Aer Lingus – the urn is then part of your normal baggage allowance.

           ii. Ryanair – You can take the ashes as well as one piece of carry-on baggage.

       c. Urn container that can be used.

           i. Must be able to pass through an x-ray machine.

           ii. Screw top lid to avoid spillage.

           iii. Protected from being broken.

Note the Urn used for transportation does not have to be the final one that might be used for ceremony or disposal.

   5. The certificate of cremation.

   6. It can also be helpful to travel with a signed letter from your funeral director and/or the crematorium stating that the urn contains the ashes of the person who has died (no one else).

   7. It’s best to arrive at the airport early to allow time for security checks.

   8. You may need to declare the ashes at Customs with the paperwork above.

What is included in standard repatriation costs with a Funeral Director?
  • Collection and care of the deceased person ahead of the flight/travel.
  • Embalming is a requirement for all bodies travelling by plane.
  • A zinc-lined coffin, which is needed for transporting someone’s body abroad.
  • The flight.
  • Liaising with funeral directors in destination country.
  • Paperwork (including freedom from infections certificate) and translation of official records.

You may pay an additional fee for other services, like:

  • Arranging a memorial service ahead of the flight.
  • Visiting your loved one at the funeral home ahead of the flight.

A Multilingual Standard Form (MSF) is a translation and authentication document which is accepted throughout the EU. When ordering an MSF you must also order the certificate which needs to be translated/authenticated for use in another EU member state. This can save you considerable expense in translation and legal fees where another jurisdiction is involved.

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