Dies Abroad

Dies Abroad: What To Do When A Loved One Dies Abroad

Updated on July 5, 2024

Many people do not know what to do when a loved one dies abroad. Losing a loved one is painful enough. But having it happen while they’re traveling or living abroad poses a whole new level of challenges. Everything, from working with foreign authorities to making funeral arrangements, can be harder when you’re caught up in different countries, cultures, laws and languages. But you don’t have to figure this out alone. This guide will walk you through the key steps to take during this difficult time.

What To Do When A Loved One Dies Abroad?

When a loved one passes away abroad, navigating the practical and emotional challenges can feel overwhelming. From unfamiliar legal procedures to logistical arrangements, knowing what steps to take during such a difficult time is crucial. Discover essential guidance and support to help you navigate this challenging process with clarity and compassion.

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1. Getting Help From The Authorities

When a loved one passes away abroad, the first thing you’ll want to do is contact the local authorities. This can be a lot to deal with while grieving, but informing the local police and medical officials is critical. They can properly handle and document the situation on their end.

You’ll also want to get in touch with the nearest embassy or consulate from your home country. They can walk you through local procedures step-by-step and connect you with any resources or assistance to get through each day. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or share your worries with them.

2. Collecting Important Documents

You’ll need to obtain an official local death certificate and get it translated into English by a certified translator if need be. This can ensure the document gets recognized back home.

Also, gather up your loved one’s passport, travel insurance information, and any written wishes they may have had about final arrangements. These will help you make decisions down the line and tie up any loose ends. 

Of course, focusing on paperwork may be the last thing you want to deal with, but getting these ducks in a row can prevent larger headaches down the road.

3. Making Decisions About Remains

One of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make is whether to repatriate your loved one’s remains or have them buried/cremated locally. 

Repatriation can get complex and costly with paperwork, embalming, transportation fees and more. But there are plenty of options out there to help you repatriate with care should you choose to go down this road.

Carefully consider all options and factors involved so you can make the choice that feels right. If choosing local cremation, be sure to look into rules and regulations around transporting ashes out of the country and back home. Some countries have restrictions, so do your homework to avoid any hiccups. 

Talking through logistics with your consulate can relieve you of some stress during this difficult period.

4. Making Funeral Plans

If you decide to repatriate your loved one’s remains, you’ll need to coordinate with a local funeral home at your current location as well as one in your home country. It can get complicated dealing with transport logistics across different countries, but the funeral homes can guide you step-by-step.

Consider discussing funeral wishes with close family members too. Talk through what type of service or burial your loved one may have wanted. See if they had any preferences written down.

It can also provide some comfort to contact a religious official, pastor, rabbi, or imam your loved one was close to and integrate meaningful elements into the service.

5. Handling Financial And Legal Matters

During this busy time, don’t forget to inform your loved one’s financial institutions, like their bank, credit card companies, mortgage/loan officers, and insurance providers about their passing. There may be surviving spouse benefits, outstanding debts to address, or estate matters to handle.

It’s also wise to seek legal advice from an attorney regarding any potential probate, inheritance, tax implications, or other legal issues – especially if there are assets still abroad. Remember, international laws around death can get murky. Having professional support helps ensure everything is properly addressed.

6. Caring For Yourself

Lastly, don’t forget about your own grief and well-being. The logistics and paperwork are important but secondary to processing this immense loss. 

Make time for self-care, lean on loved ones, join a local support group in the area, or speak to a grief counselor. The embassy or consulate you’ve already contacted may have resources to point you to. 

Bottling up emotions and soldiering through every task without taking breaks runs you down fast. And the last thing you need is to burn out. Tend to your grieving heart first, logistics second. 

When A Loved One Dies Abroad
When A Loved One Dies Abroad


Making plans after the death of a loved one will likely be one of the hardest things you ever have to arrange. This may be even tougher with all these international logistics. 

However, taking it step-by-step and being gentle with yourself along the way can make all the difference. Prioritize the tips shared in this article, and keep in touch with the experts who’ve done this before. 

This can guarantee you get a chance to properly process your grief while honoring your loved one’s memory.

Thank you for taking the time to explore this post. I hope you found it both insightful and enjoyable.

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