Sending a body from Ireland for burial or cremation abroad

Information

When someone from another country dies in Ireland there are certain formalities that must be followed before the body can be sent out of Ireland for burial or cremation elsewhere. The purpose of the following information is to set out the general process and rules involved.

A funeral director in Ireland can help you deal with the formalities and can make the necessary arrangements for 'repatriation'. Assistance is also available from the relevant embassy representing the person's country in Ireland. If the death occurred on a package holiday in Ireland, the tour operator should be able to help you with arrangements. A funeral director from the person's country may also be able to arrange to have the body returned home.

It can be very costly to have a body repatriated from one country to another and you may wish to consider having the body cremated in Ireland and having the ashes sent to the person's country. Read about cremation in Ireland here.

Reporting the death

When a sudden, unnatural or violent death occurs, there is a legal responsibility on the doctor, Registrar of deaths, funeral director, householder and every person in charge of any institution or premises in which the deceased person was residing at the time of their death to report the death to the coroner. The appropriate coroner is the coroner for the district where the death occurred. The death may be reported to a member of the Garda Síochána, not below the rank of sergeant, who will notify the coroner. However, any person may notify the coroner of the circumstances of a particular death. Read more about the coroner in Ireland here.

The coroner will arrange for the body to be moved to a mortuary facility and for a medical examination (post-mortem) to be carried out to determine the cause of death. The Garda Síochána will assist the coroner in arranging a formal identification of the body by a family member or a relative.

Where a person dies from a natural illness or disease for which the deceased was being treated by a doctor within one month of the death, there is no need to notify the coroner. In this case, the doctor will issue the medical certificate of the cause of death (Death Notification Form).

Registering the Death

When someone dies in Ireland the death must be registered as soon as possible. Where the doctor issues the Death Notification Form, the death can then be registered and a death certificate can be obtained from the local Registrar of births, marriages and deaths. A death is automatically registered where a post-mortem is held at the request of the coroner however, there is likely to be a delay in getting a death certificate. Find out more about registering a death here.

Preparing the body for shipment home

The funeral director you appoint in Ireland can embalm and prepare the body for repatriation on funeral director's premises. Embalming helps preserve the body. If a post-mortem has being held, the funeral director can obtain the release of the body from the coroner so that it can be prepared. It is necessary to have the body formally identified. This can be carried out by a travelling companion or business colleague of the deceased. In some cases however, it may be necessary for a family member to travel to confirm the identification.

International regulations (Article 3 of the League of Nations International Regulations concerning the conveyance of corpses, 1937 and the Council of Europe Agreement on the Transfer of Corpses 1973) require all coffins crossing international frontiers to be zinc or lead lined and sealed. These coffins are not suitable for cremation and either the lining has to be removed or another coffin provided in the country of destination, if the body is to be cremated.

Documentation

Before a body can be removed from Ireland you require the following documentation:

  • Coroner's Removal Order/Non-infectious Note
  • Embalming Certificate
  • Passport or Identity Card
  • Funeral Director's Declaration
  • Embassy Permit
  • Notarisation or apostilling of documents (where applicable)

Your funeral director can obtain the Removal Order from the coroner and the death certificate from the Registrar (if available). You need to find out from the embassy what formalities and documentation are required. Your funeral director can liase with the embassy on any formalities that need to be carried out and in obtaining the required documentation.

Travel arrangements

You need to make travel arrangements for the body from Ireland to the deceased's country. Your funeral director can arrange these. The body can be flown home or it can travel by ferry and over land. While travelling over land is cheaper, it also takes longer.

The embassy should be notified of the travel arrangements so that the authorities in the deceased's country can be informed. Your funeral director normally does this. You also need a funeral director in the deceased's country who can liase with the relevant authorities there and arrange the removal of the body for burial or cremation when it arrives.

Costs

Repatriation of a deceased person abroad from Ireland can be an expensive process due to factors such as the distance to be travelled and how the body is shipped. Check whether the person had travel insurance or private medical cover which would help cover the costs. If the deceased is covered contact the insurance company as soon as possible.

Financial assistance with the cost of repatriating a deceased person abroad is not available from the authorities in Ireland, just as it is unavailable from the authorities in many other countries.

If the deceased person was resident in Ireland you may be interested in reading more about getting access to money after a death.

Contacts

Contact information for foreign embassies and consulates responsible for Ireland are available here.

Irish Association of Funeral Directors

Mespil House
Mespil Business Centre
Sussex Road
Dublin 4
Ireland

Tel:0818 935 000
Homepage: http://www.iafd.ie/

Page edited: 22 January 2014