Honouring the life of a loved one
When someone dies overseas, it can lead to extra worry and concern for the family about how their deceased loved ones will be brought home.
The process of bringing someone back to the UK is called repatriation.
At Middleton Funerals we have years of repatriation experience, and as with everything we do, we ensure it’s done with care, sensitivity, and integrity.
What is repatriation?
In the context of a deceased person, repatriation simply means to transport the person who died back to their country of origin, or another country that is meaningful to them, for cremation or burial.
If, for instance, a member of a family dies on holiday, a repatriation service will bring their body back home to the UK. A repatriation service can also take the body of a deceased person from the UK to the country where they would like to be buried or cremated. This might be because that is the country they were born in, or where their family originates from. Sometimes, it’s a place where a British national spent a lot of time and perhaps owned property.
Arranging a repatriation can seem daunting, but with our professional and experienced service, it is a relatively straightforward process. We reassure people that their loved ones are in safe hands and we always do our best to honour the wishes of the deceased. We can help make a challenging time a little easier.
How long does it take to repatriate a body?
If someone dies of natural causes it usually only takes between 5-10 days to repatriate a body. If the cause of death was in anyway unclear, or as a result of a traffic accident, it can take longer. In such circumstances the body may initially be held by the local police until it’s possible to conduct a post-mortem. Repatriation in such circumstances can take between 10-15 days, in some circumstances it can take considerably longer.
Some countries have very different levels of bureaucracy, but your repatriation provider will be able to advise you about what’s required and what you should expect.
HOW IS A BODY REPATRIATED BACK TO THE UK?
Different countries operate different protocols for repatriating a body. The steps below may differ in an individual country, so it’s important to talk to your repatriation provider in the UK, who will be able to advise how to proceed.
Inform the local authorities
If you’re abroad as part of a package holiday or a tour group, your travel provider will be able to help you with informing the local authorities.
Some of the larger holiday providers will have a welfare team who will be able to help you through the process.
If you are travelling independently, the British Embassy, consulate or High Representative will be able to offer advice.
Contact the British authorities
If you haven’t already contacted them, you should get in touch with the British Embassy, Consulate or High Representative.
Their details can be found here. They will guide you through the steps you need to take. They will communicate with the local authorities on your behalf and will keep you up to date with the repatriation process.
If you were in the UK when your loved one passed away it’s likely you will receive notification of the death from the police who act on behalf of the British Consulate.
REGISTERING THE DEATH
The death will need to be registered in the country that it took place. The Embassy or Consulate will be able to advise you how to do this. You will need to provide some information about the person who died and yourself. This will include:
- Full name of the deceased
- Date of birth
- Passport number
- The country their passport was issued in
- The date the passport was issued
- Your relationship to the deceased if you are not the next of kin
Local death certificates can be used in the UK as long as an English translation is provided if they are in another language. It’s possible to also register the death in the UK, but it’s not essential. You will also be provided with a consular death registration certificate, the cost of which is currently £150.
Check your travel insurance
Repatriation can be costly, particularly when it’s being done from a long-haul destination. The travel insurance policy of the deceased may well cover the cost of repatriation. The policy should explain how much of the cost it will cover, and how to make a claim. Many tour groups or package holidays have group insurance that covers the cost of repatriation.
TALK TO YOUR REPATRIATION PROVIDER
Your repatriation provider will be able to guide you through the stages of repatriating a body. They will appoint a local funeral director to bring the person who died into their care. The person who died will be embalmed, which is a standard requirement for repatriating a body by plane.
You will be able to start planning the funeral or memorial service for the deceased before the body is repatriated.
The repatriation provider will gather all the necessary paperwork to begin the repatriation. This will include death certificate, a certificate of embalming, freedom from infection certificate, and permission to move the body from the country of death back to the UK.
Once all the paperwork is in place, they will then arrange for the body to be flown home in a zinc-lined coffin.
Restrictions apply if it cannot be certified that the deceased didn’t die of an infectious disease, or the area in which they died has had incidences of an infectious disease in the previous three months. If that is the case, a period of quarantine may apply before the body can be repatriated.
ARRANGE THE FUNERAL
When the repatriation is complete you can take the local death certificate and any English translation to your local Registry Office. They will then give you the necessary paperwork to enable you to arrange a funeral.
WE offer experienced & professional services
We have helped countless families repatriate their loved ones to the UK. We are experienced at dealing with the legal formalities and handling all the practicalities involved. At a worrying and stressful time, we can provide reassurance and assistance.
Please contact our experienced and sensitive team for information, support, and advice about repatriation.