What Happens if a Loved One Dies Abroad?

Death is hard and death while abroad can bring its own challenges.

If someone you love dies while abroad, you’re hit with a triple whammy of stress, grief, and shock. It’s hard enough losing a loved one at any stage, but to have to deal with a foreign system and possibly a different language is the last thing you want to do. In most cases, you can get help from the British authorities. ✔️

If you’re with them when they pass:

  • Go to the nearest British consulate, embassy, or High Commission for advice. This is one of the reasons they’re there.
  • If you’re on a package holiday, tell the rep as soon as you can — some tour operators might even have staff on hand to help with the arrangements.

If you’re at home and they’re abroad:

  • The British consulate in the country where the death has occurred should ask the UK police to inform the next-of-kin. If you hear the news from someone other than the police, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. They’ll be your go to for information and help with arrangements.

How do I register the death? 💻

You have to register the death in the country where it occurred. While that may seem like a tricky task, the British consulate can help you with this. Then, once you’ve received a foreign death certificate, you need to register the death with the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office in the UK.

Side note: If you can register with your government and/or embassy before you travel, this will allow the government to notify you in case of an emergency abroad or a personal emergency at home. The service also enables you to receive important information before or during a natural disaster, civil unrest or be able to get you home easier in case of death.

How does planning a funeral work?

You can choose to have the funeral overseas, or you can choose to have the body returned to the UK in a process known as repatriation. With something as sensitive as handling repatriation efforts, you’ll need to contact an international undertaker -- this is their area of expertise. They’ll be able to advise you on the process and which documents you’ll need to be able to have a funeral in the UK. Often, this includes:

  • a certified English translation of the foreign death certificate
  • authorisation to remove the body from the country
  • certification of embalming

Is repatriation expensive? 💷

It certainly can be, so it’s best to discuss the costs before committing to anything. You’ll want to make sure you can afford to cover the costs, or that the insurance policy covers them. If the person had life insurance, you can often use some of the payout to cover the costs as well. Funeral payments are one of many reasons you should get life insurance.

Does travel insurance cover any of the costs?

If the person who died had travel insurance, you may be able to claim the costs from this. In this instance, it’s best to contact the insurance company as soon as possible, as they may be able to arrange a local assistance firm to help with things like organising an international undertaker.

If you’re one of the many people who chooses to travel without travel insurance because you think it’s a waste of money…you may want to think again. Not only can it cover travel delay ⏳, lost luggage 🧳, or emergency medical procedures 🏥, it can also cover the cost if things go really wrong abroad and you want to repatriate a body.

Granted, all travel insurance policies are different, so you’ll have to do your research to find the one that suits you best. No one likes planning for death — especially while planning for a vacation 😎🏖. You want to leave all the stress behind, and take some time to relax, not plan for the absolute worst case scenario. However, just like with life insurance, you can rest easy knowing you’ve got all your bases covered.


At Bequest, we know it’s difficult to think about or even plan for death. That’s why we’re on a mission to help make planning for the future a lot less daunting. For information regarding wills and life insurance, send us an email 📧 alexa@bequest.com. If we can’t answer it, we can certainly point you in the right direction!

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FF Bequest Limited, trading as Bequest, is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority with firm reference number 923791. You can check our authorisation on the FCA Financial Services Register by visiting the following website: register.fca.org.uk . We are registered in England and Wales, Registered office address: Founders Factory, Northcliffe House, London, United Kingdom, W8 5EH. Company Number 12367897.

Regulated by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) [ZA662891]. “Bequest" is trademark protected by FF Bequest Limited (UK00003452648). FF Bequest Limited is registered in England and Wales, No 12367897.

0203 916 5433

FF Bequest Limited, trading as Bequest, is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority with firm reference number 923791. You can check our authorisation on the FCA Financial Services Register by visiting the following website: register.fca.org.uk . We are registered in England and Wales, Registered office address: Founders Factory, Northcliffe House, London, United Kingdom, W8 5EH. Company Number 12367897.

Regulated by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) [ZA662891]. “Bequest" is trademark protected by FF Bequest Limited (UK00003452648). FF Bequest Limited is registered in England and Wales, No 12367897.

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