The unfortunate death away from family and in a foreign land is not only painful for those who are left behind, but is also a tedious process. Whatever the cause, whether natural or untimely, the same procedures apply. The US Embassy in the host country will surely assist but the government has no funds for the return of the remains of the deceased US citizen. All costs shall be covered by the family.
From The Foreign Country
When a US citizen dies abroad, the first document to acquire is the local death certificate from the local mortuary or hospital. From here, everything follows. Upon receipt of the certificate, the embassy will prepare the so-called official Consular Report of Death of a US citizen.
The Bureau of Consular Affairs will assist the family in carrying instructions from the offices within the foreign country. In most cases, the embassy will take care of the processing if the family is in the US. The Consular Affairs, on the other hand, is left to assist the family in the transmission of funds to cover the costs of return of the body.
Before the departure of the remains from the foreign land, the consular officer will have to prepare the following documents: US Mortuary Certificate confirming information about the cause of death, Transit Permit which is being issued at the port of embarkation, and Affidavit of Foreign Funeral Director confirming that the casket contains only the remains and clothing of the deceased. These documents are sent along with the remains.
Arrival Of The Remains In The US
Upon arrival in the US, there two requirements that should be met. Otherwise, there will be more processes that will be requested or in the worst scenario, the remains will not be allowed to enter.
Public health entry requirement: the remains must embalmed. If not, it should be embalmed first and the certificate must state that the US citizen did not die from any quarantinable disease. This is for the reason of public safety and welfare of American citizens.
Customs entry requirement: the permit for entry is obtained from the airline carrier at the point of departure.
Other Processes Related To A Death In Another Country
Aside from the remains, the deceased surely left some belongings and is usually another set of processes. In line with this, the US consular officer will take into his possession the personal estate of the deceased US citizen such as personal documents, clothing and jewelry. The consular officer will then prepare an inventory report of the personal estate of the deceased US citizen and carries out the requests of the family with respect to the personal belongings. These may also be returned home or disposed of.
To bring home the remains of a loved one who died abroad would surely take time, and will require much effort and communication with the embassy. Nevertheless, the reunion, even if it is just with the remains, is what the family needs.