You must register a death with the local authorities in the country where the person died.
In many countries you can also register the death with the UK authorities.
Reporting the death
The Tell Us Once service lets you report a death to most government organisations in one go.
You can use Tell Us Once if the death has been registered with the UK authorities and the person died in:
You’ll need a unique reference number to use Tell Us Once. Register the death with the UK authorities to get a reference number.
If you do not use Tell Us Once and the person who died was getting a pension or other benefits contact the International Pension Centre.
Find out more about coping with a death abroad.
Bringing the body home
To bring the body home you must:
- get a certified English translation of the death certificate
- get permission to remove the body, issued by a coroner (or equivalent) in the country where the person died
- tell a coroner in England if the death was violent or unnatural
Ask for advice from the British consulate, embassy or high commission in the country where the person died.
Contact a register office
Once the body is home, take the death certificate to the register office in the area where the funeral is taking place.
As the death has already been registered abroad, the registrar will give you a ‘certificate of no liability to register’. Give this to the funeral director so the funeral can go ahead.
If you’re arranging the funeral yourself, give the certificate back to the registrar after the funeral’s taken place. You must do this within 96 hours of the funeral.
When a coroner will be involved
A coroner will usually hold an inquest in England or Wales if the cause of death is unknown or if it was sudden, violent or unnatural.
You need a certificate from the coroner (form ‘Cremation 6’) if the person is to be cremated.
Bringing ashes home
When leaving a country with human ashes you will normally need to show:
- the death certificate
- the certificate of cremation
Each country has its own rules about departing with human ashes and there may be additional requirements. Contact the country’s British consulate, embassy or high commission for advice. You’ll need to fill in a standard customs form when you arrive home.
Contact your airline to find out whether you can carry the ashes as hand luggage or as checked-in luggage. They may ask you to put the ashes in a non-metallic container so that they can be x-rayed.
You should not have the person cremated abroad if you want a coroner at home to conduct an inquest into their death.