Repatriating a Loved One Who Died Overseas

How to repatriate a loved one to Ireland after a death overseas

Last updated: 16 December 2016

If someone you love has died while living abroad or on holiday, you may wish to bring their body home to Ireland for their funeral, or need to arrange for a burial or cremation in the country where they died. This can be a complicated process, but there are a number of funeral homes in Ireland which specialise in repatriating people back home, or arranging for a funeral overseas.

Where to seek help

When an Irish citizen dies abroad, the authorities in that country will often notify the Irish Embassy, who will convey the news via the Garda Sióchána to the family at home. If a holiday company, travelling companion or someone else informs you about the death of a loved one who is currently overseas, you should contact the Irish embassy or consulate in that country for advice.

If your loved one had travel insurance, you should check the policy to see if it covered the cost of repatriating your loved one, or funeral costs abroad and contact the provider for advice.

The Irish embassy or consul cannot help you with the costs involved when someone dies abroad, but will be able to advise you on the steps you need to take, according to local laws and regulations.

This includes formally identifying your loved one’s body and arranging for a funeral director in that country to collect them and make the necessary arrangements for the funeral or repatriation. Your loved one’s death will need to be registered in the country where they died and you will need the death certificate when it comes to administering their estate.

Repatriating your loved one

An Irish funeral director which offers repatriation services can arrange much what you need to do, including liaise with the funeral director in the country where your loved one died, organise flights and complete the necessary forms, certificates and permits required to bring them home. They can also work with overseas funeral directors to arrange a funeral to be held in that country.

The coroner in your district must be notified when a body is being flown home and will require documents including the medical certificate of death, certification to say whether or not a post-mortem was carried out and whether or not the person died in an area of infectious disease. A funeral director which specialises in repatriations will be aware of this. If you are arranging your own flights, the airline will be able to advise you about its procedures.

Cremations and ashes

You may wish to repatriate your loved one's body and hold their funeral in Ireland, but in some countries this may not be possible and a burial may have to happen locally. This could be due to to local laws, custom, or expediency due to the climate.

In countries where cremation is permitted, some families choose for their loved one to be cremated and arrange for their ashes to be flown home. Most airlines permit cremation ashes to be carried on board as hand-luggage. You are likely to need the death and cremation certificates and should check with the airline you fly with that the container the ashes are held in meet on-board safety requirements.