Sending a body from Ireland for burial or cremation abroad
When someone from another country dies in Ireland, certain formalities must be followed before the body can be sent out of Ireland for burial or cremation elsewhere. Returning someone’s body to their home country is called repatriation. The following information sets out the general process and rules involved.
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 deceased person’s country. Find out more about cremation in Ireland.
Who can I ask for help with repatriation?
- A funeral director in Ireland can help you deal with the formalities and can make the necessary arrangements for repatriation. (See ‘How is a body prepared for repatriation?’ below.)
- A funeral director from the home country of the person who died may also be able to arrange repatriation.
- Assistance is 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.
Must the death be registered?
Yes. To register a death, you need a Death Notification Form signed by a doctor. When you have this signed form, you must register the death as soon as possible with the local Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths . The registrar will issue a death certificate.
However, if a coroner has asked for a post-mortem (a medical examination to determine the cause of death), they will arrange for the death to be registered. Getting the death certificate may be delayed until the post-mortem has established the cause of death.
Must the death be reported to the coroner?
You do not need to report the death to a coroner if the person died from a natural illness or disease and had been receiving medical treatment for the condition during the month before they died. In this case, a doctor will issue the Death Notification Form, which you will need in order to register the death and get a death certificate.
If the death is sudden, unnatural or violent, it must be reported to the coroner for the district where the death occurred.
In this case, the legal responsibility for informing the coroner lies with the doctor, registrar of deaths, funeral director, householder or the owner or manager of the place where the person was living at the time of their death. The coroner will have the body moved to a mortuary and will arrange a post-mortem to determine the cause of death.
You may report the death to a senior member of the Garda Síochána (not below the rank of sergeant), who will notify the coroner. The Garda Síochána can also arrange for a family member to formally identify the body.
How is a body prepared for repatriation?
The body must be formally identified. In some cases, this can be done by a travelling companion or business colleague of the person who died. In other cases, a family member may need to come to Ireland to confirm the person’s identity.
If you appoint a funeral director in Ireland, they can embalm and prepare the body for repatriation. Embalming helps to preserve the body. If a post-mortem has been held, the funeral director can obtain the release of the body from the coroner so that it can be prepared.
International law requires all coffins crossing international frontiers to be lined with zinc or lead and sealed (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). These coffins are not suitable for cremation. If the body is to be cremated, either the lining has to be removed or another coffin provided in the country of destination.
Before a body can be removed from Ireland you need the following documents:
- Coroner’s removal order/non-infectious note
- Embalming certificate
- Passport or identity card of the deceased person
- Funeral director’s declaration
- Embassy permit
- Notarisation or apostilling of documents if applicable (where a specially licensed lawyer verifies legal documents to ensure they are internationally valid)
You need to find out from the embassy what formalities and documents are required. The funeral director can help with this. They can also obtain the removal order from the coroner and the death certificate (if available) from the Registrar.
You need to arrange for the body to be taken from Ireland to the home country of the person who died. Your funeral director can do this for you. The body can be flown home or it can travel by ferry and overland. Although travelling overland is cheaper, it takes longer.
You or the funeral director should notify the embassy of the travel arrangements so that the authorities in the home country can be informed.
You or the funeral director also need to contact a funeral director in the deceased’s country, who can liaise with the relevant authorities there and arrange for burial or cremation of the body when it arrives.
Repatriation can be expensive, depending on the distance to be travelled and how the body is transported. Check whether the person had travel insurance or private medical cover which would help to cover the costs. If they are covered, contact the insurance company as soon as possible.
As in many other countries, the Irish Government does not give financial assistance with the cost of repatriating a deceased person.
If the deceased person was resident in Ireland, you may need information on
access to money after a death.
Contact information for foreign embassies and consulates responsible for Ireland.