What do if someone dies abroad

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.

Contact the International Pension Centre if the person was getting a pension or other benefits.

You can use Tell Us Once if the person died in:

Find out more about coping with a death abroad.

There are different rules for bringing the person’s remains home, depending on whether you:

  • bring the body home for burial or cremation
  • have the person cremated abroad and bring their ashes home

These rules apply to England and Wales. There are different processes for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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.

  1. Step 1 Register the death

    1. Register the death within 5 days

    Check what to do if:

    To stop or change benefits payments you can tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about the death straight away.

  2. Step 2 Arrange the funeral

  3. Step 3 Tell government about the death

    The Tell Us Once service allows you to inform all the relevant government departments when someone dies.

    1. Use the Tell Us Once service to tell government
    2. If Tell Us Once is not available in your area tell government yourself

    You'll also need to tell banks, utility companies and landlords yourself.

  4. Step 4 Check if you can get bereavement benefits

  5. and Deal with your own benefits, pension and taxes

    Your tax, benefit claims and pension might change depending on your relationship with the person who died.

    1. Manage your tax, pensions and benefits if your spouse has died
    2. Check how benefits are affected if a child dies
  6. and Check if you need to apply to stay in the UK

    If your right to live in the UK depends on your relationship with someone who died you might need to apply for a new visa.

    Check the rules if:

    1. Contact UKVI to check the rules for other visas
  7. Step 5 Deal with their estate

    You might have to deal with the will, money and property of the person who's died if you're a close friend or relative, or the executor of the will.

    1. Check what to do about wills, probate and inheritance
    2. Update property records