1. Should a death occur away from the deceased’s home state and a funeral service is desired to be held in the home city, then transportation will need to be arranged. If the body is to be transported via a commercial carrier, then the remains must be either embalmed prior to shipping or shipped in an airtight container. A local funeral home may be able to arrange for transport via a hearse; however this option is quite expensive. An alternative choice and the most economical would be to cremate the remains in the distant city and have the cremated remains shipped to the home city where you can hold desired services.
If cremating a loved one and returning with their ashes by plane please check airline and security guidelines in regards to carrying cremated remains in certain types of containers prior to going to the airport.
2. Should a death occur in a foreign country, the U.S. Consulate should be contacted immediately, they can assist in arranging transportation or for local disposition. Translations of the death certificate and other documents can usually be obtained through the Consulate. We recommend local cremation of the body and shipment of the cremated remains back home. If shipment of the body back home is desired, then the Consulate can advise you on the particular laws of the foreign country. Embalming the body is recommended due to the possibility of lengthy travel; however embalming is not a common practice in many foreign countries. And many of their alternate options very likely will not make an open casket viewing possible. You may want to consider purchasing short term insurance for travel abroad that can cover not only health coverage but also the transportation of remains in case of death.
More information regarding the Death of a U.S. Citizen Abroad and the US consulate
Each year, over 6,000 Americans die abroad. Most of them are Americans who live overseas, but, each year, a few thousand Americans die while on short visits abroad. One of the most important tasks of U.S. consular officers abroad is to confirm the death, identity and U.S. citizenship of the deceased, and then provide assistance to the families of U.S. citizens who die abroad. When an American dies abroad, the Bureau of Consular Affairs must locate and inform the next-of-kin. Sometimes discovering the next-of-kin is difficult. If the American’s name is known, the Bureau’s Office of Passport Services will search for his or her passport application.
Upon notification of the next of kin, the consulate will provide information about disposition of the remains and the effects of the deceased, and provides guidance on forwarding funds to cover costs (all costs associated with the arrangements are the responsibility of the deceased’s estate or family).
Other serves provided through the consulate:
A U.S. consular officer overseas has statutory responsibility for the personal estate of an American who dies abroad if the deceased has no legal representative in the country where the death occurred. The consular officer takes possession of personal effects, such as, but not limited to: a) convertible assets b) jewelry c) apparel d) personal documents and papers.
The officer prepares an inventory and then carries out instructions from members of the deceased’s family concerning the effects. Upon completion of all formalities, the consular officer abroad prepares an official Foreign Service Report of Death, based upon the local death certificate, and sends it to the next-of-kin or legal representative for use in U.S. courts to settle estate matters.
For more information about consular assistance when an American citizen has died abroad, see http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/emergencies/emergencies_1205.html#death.
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