What happens if someone dies on holiday?


What happens if someone dies on holiday?

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It’s getting to that time of the year, the summer holidays are approaching and we’re all getting excited about leaving the daily grind behind for a while. 

For most of us, the biggest disaster we’ll have to worry about when on holiday is lost luggage, for a small minority – going on holiday may well be the last thing they do. So, we wanted to look into what you need to do if someone you’re with dies whilst you’re away. 

What needs to happen after a death on holiday

  • You’ll need to get in touch with your nearest Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. 

They’ll be able to support you and let you know what the legalities and rules are of the specific country you’re in, which will be especially important if you don’t speak the language. They’ll be able to let you know what your next steps are and provide help and advice in terms of registering the death and funeral proceedings. 

  • You’ll need to register the death 

No matter where you are in the world, the death needs to be registered. Medical staff or local police will be able to advise you on how to do this.

You’ll need to have as much information about the person who’s died (and yourself) to be able to show them. For example, their:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Passport number
  • The name of the next of kin (if that’s not you)

Depending on where you’re from, you may be able to register the death in your home country too. Your embassy/High Commission/Consulate should be able to help you further with that. 

  • Deciding whether to repatriate the body back home

This will depend on whether you choose to have a funeral service in the country that you’re in, or you want to transport the body back home. Each country has different legislation regarding how and when you can repatriate – but in all cases the costs are usually high.

This is mainly because of the cost of transporting a coffin. To move a body from the US to Kenya, for instance, is estimated to cost between $6,000 and $10,000. 

But there are also the paperwork requirements, medical costs, mortuary charges and embalming (or autopsy, if needed) costs.

The website: https://www.bereavementadvice.org/topics/the-funeral/repatriation-for-a-funeral-overseas/ provides a lot more details about what’s involved in the process, including how to set up fundraisers if money is needed for this. 

If you would rather have the funeral overseas, your Embassy, High Commission or Consulate should also be able to help you to understand what steps you need to take to get this arranged. 

  • What about insurance?

It’s a good idea to get the deceased’s insurance company involved as early as possible, so they’re aware of what’s going on. They will then usually involve one of their local teams to help you. A lot of insurance policies cover parts of repatriation but it won’t include costs for a funeral, burial, or cremation or any related containers like urns or coffins. 

This is just a quick summary to give you a guide of what needs to happen when someone dies on holiday as, given that each country has its own rules, the full process will differ in every case. We’ve listed some more comprehensive guides in our links below, but we would strongly recommend making a note of the details of where your nearest Embassy, High Commission or Consulate will be when you’re away. We’d also recommend having the details of each travellers insurance company so that you can get the process started with them too. 

Finding out more

We don’t want you to cancel that trip just yet, the fact remains that someone dying on holiday is extremely rare.

However, if this has happened and you want to know more, here are some more guides to help you:





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