Bringing a body to Ireland for burial or cremation
Every country has its own rules about the formalities to be followed when someone dies. The purpose of the following information is to set out the general process and rules involved when bringing a body to Ireland for burial or cremation.
The information is primarily for families of Irish citizens. Families of non-Irish nationals should contact the relevant embassy for their own country for advice, if they wish to bring a body to Ireland. A list of foreign embassies and consulates responsible for Ireland is available here. You can read about sending a body out of Ireland here.
Repatriation of the remains of a deceased person to Ireland can be an expensive process. If the person had travel insurance or private medical cover that may help cover the costs. You may wish to consider having the body cremated abroad and the ashes returned to Ireland. Financial assistance with the cost of repatriation of a dead body is not available from the Irish embassy.
Notification that an Irish citizen has died abroad
If the Irish embassy or consulate is notified of the death of an Irish citizen abroad, the Garda Sióchána in Ireland are asked to notify any family/next-of kin in Ireland. The embassy/consulate can also help communicate with the police or other authorities abroad.
If you have been notified of the death of an Irish citizen abroad by a tour operator or by someone else, then you should contact the Irish embassy/consulate for that country for advice.
Formal identification of the remains
Before any arrangements can be made to return a body to Ireland, the remains must be formally identified. The rules on who may formally identify a deceased person can vary by country, but usually identification may be carried out by a travelling companion or business colleague of the deceased. In some countries it may be necessary for a family member to travel there to confirm the identity.
Further information on the local arrangements for formal identification of
Irish citizens abroad is available from the Irish embassy for the country where
the death occurred.
Appointing a funeral director
If you appoint a funeral director in Ireland they can find a suitable funeral director in the other country and make the appropriate arrangements. Alternatively, the Irish embassy for the country can provide help to Irish citizens in appointing a local funeral director. If the death occurred on a package holiday, the tour operator should be able to help with arrangements. A funeral director is someone whose business is to prepare the dead for burial and to arrange and manage funerals. Services of funeral directors are not free so you should check fees and costs associated prior to engaging these services.
The local funeral director can prepare the body for repatriation. The funeral director can also prepare the appropriate documentation and obtain the death certificate if possible. Assistance is also available from the Irish embassy in obtaining documents such as the death certificate or medical reports. The local funeral director can also make all the necessary flight arrangements.
If the death was sudden or unexplained the coroner in Ireland for the district where the body is being taken must be notified of the repatriation. If you have appointed a funeral director in Ireland, the funeral director will contact the appropriate coroner with the required documentation. If the remains are being flown into Dublin airport it is the Dublin District Coroner who must be notified.
If there are concerns about how the death happened, the coroner may direct that a post-mortem or an additional examination of the body be carried out. Read more about the powers of coroners.
Registering the death
If the death is registered in the country where the person died, it is not normally registered in Ireland. Where a system of registration does not exist in that country or where it is not possible to obtain copies of the relevant civil registration record (death certificate), you should contact the General Register Office in Ireland to see if the death can be registered in Ireland.
A death certificate is an important legal document, evidence of which is frequently required in Ireland in order to deal with the deceased's estate. Read more about dealing with the deceased persons estate.
If an Irish citizen who has been ordinarily resident in Ireland within the past 5 years dies abroad their death can be recorded on the Record of Deaths Abroad. Doing this is voluntary but it allows the relatives of the deceased to notify the Civil Registration Service of the death, to have the death recorded and to obtain a certified copy of the record.
Bringing ashes home
Instead of bringing the deceased’s body home for burial or cremation you may cremate it abroad and transport the ashes home. The transport of human ashes will normally require a death certificate and a cremation certificate to be presented at the place of departure. There may be additional requirements depending on the country you are departing from. You should contact the relevant Irish embassy or consulate to check for any local requirements.
You should also contact you transport carrier to find out if the ashes should be carried as hand luggage or as checked-in luggage. You may be asked to carry the ashes in a non-metallic container so they can be x-rayed by security.
Contact information for all Irish embassies and consulates abroad is available here.