When you have suffered a bereavement it is very difficult to know what to do first and how to cope with the legalities and paperwork that a death causes. The following information has been written to guide you through the process at this difficult time.

If you are travelling with someone who dies abroad, you should contact the nearest British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. They will be able to give you advice on what you need to do and help you with arrangements that need to be made.

Registering the death

All deaths must be registered in the country where the person died. The British Consul will tell you how to do this. You can also register the death at the British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. This means you will get a UK style death registration document.

When registering the death, you will be asked to provide the following information about yourself and the deceased:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Passport number
  • Where and when the passport was issued
  • Details of the next of kin (if you are not their closest relative)

Funeral arrangements

You can arrange to have the funeral overseas or for the body to be returned to the UK. This is known as repatriation. If you would like the funeral to be held in the UK, you will need to use an International Funeral Director who can help you with the arrangements.

You will need to provide the following documents:

  • An English translation of the foreign death certificate from the country where the death happened
  • Authorisation to remove the body from the country
  • A certificate of embalming

The British Consulate or an International Funeral Director will be able to tell you how to get these documents.

If the body is to be returned to Scotland, the Scottish Government must give permission and issue an order to allow the funeral to take place.

Once the body is home, the death certificate must be taken to the Registrar in the area where the funeral is taking place.

The order from the Scottish Government must be given to the council where the funeral is taking place. You must also give them the burial or cremation paperwork and a copy of the death registration.

When a coroner will be involved

A coroner will usually be involved if the cause of death is unknown, sudden, violent or unnatural. You will require a certificate from the coroner if the deceased is to be cremated.