Help & Advice

Arranging a Funeral

Repatriation Services FAQs

When a loved one passes away abroad or in the UK, the process of repatriating them into the UK or to another country can be a difficult task for anyone to deal with. Our Funeral Arrangers here at Wombwell Funeral Services have years of repatriation experience and can take the worry and complexity out of your hands.

We understand that it may take several days to make a decision on whether or not to send your loved one to the chosen location. During this time, you may have some questions about repatriation so we’ve answered the most popular questions below to help guide you.

Your questions answered

What does repatriation mean?

When a death occurs overseas, repatriation is the returning of the deceased to their own country or country of origin Some British nationals who pass away in the UK plan to be buried or cremated abroad. Our international repatriation services cover both incoming and outgoing repatriation.

How does repatriation from the UK work?

We can help those who would like to repatriate their loved one overseas.  Once we have been provided with a copy of the death certificate, we can manage preparation of all other documentation required to have the deceased buried or cremated overseas.

How do repatriation services work to or from the UK?

Repatriation services are here to help transport deceased loved ones to their final resting place.

The first step in this process is to register the death with the local authority in the country where the person passed away. If the death occurs abroad this can be done by contacting the British Embassy, high commission, or consulate.

UK residents who suffer a death abroad and need assistance can call the Foreign Commonwealth Office 24/7, 365 days a year on 0207 008 1500.

What documents are needed for repatriation services to the UK?

If you are preparing to repatriate a loved one to the UK, you will need the following documentation:

  • A copy of the death certificate. It is helpful if this is a certified English translation.
  • Permission to remove the body. This should be issued by a coroner (or equivalent) in the country of death.
  • A coroner statements. If the death was unexpected or unnatural, a UK coroner will review these documents to check whether an inquest is needed.
  • Passport of the deceased.

How long does repatriation take?

On average, it takes seven to ten days to repatriate a loved one to their chosen country. This can vary depending on circumstances. However, if a post-mortem is required due to suspicious circumstances, then repatriation can be delayed.

Has COVID-19 impacted how long repatriation can take?

This shall vary dependent on where you are repatriating your loved one. Some countries have restrictions on their boarders due to the global pandemic. The number of routes airlines are flying is currently restricted, so not all airports are available.

How much do repatriation services cost?

Costs of repatriation will depend on your specific requirements. Our professional services cover everything you need to repatriate your loved one. This includes embalming services, transportation of the deceased, and preparation of legal documents.

Additional costs are for the coffin, mandatory zinc lining and other disbursements and third-party fees that may include airline charges, consular or embassy fees, statutory certificates, and local funeral service fees.

How is your loved one transported?

Depending upon current conditions and seasonal factors, we will recommend the airline currently offering the most reliable services. Families are free to suggest the use of alternate airlines. We research the best airlines and routes to use, ensuring families receive the most secure options at the optimum price.

If your loved one passes away in Ireland a ferry may be used to transport your loved one back to an appropriate airport.

How is the coffin wrapped?

We have a wide range of coffins and caskets to choose from, many designed especially for international repatriation that conform to international shipping regulations. Coffins are usually wrapped in a protective layer then covered with a cloth wrapping. Larger coffins and caskets may be place on an air tray or crate.

Can my loved one be transported in a veneer and semi, solid wooden coffin?

All of our Metal American-Style Caskets are hermetically sealing and are suitable for international repatriation. They may be re-opened at the destination location and may also be used for burial in the destination country, local cemetery regulations permitting. Wooden coffins must be zinc lined for them to be hermetically sealed for repatriation. Any wooden coffin, veneer, semi-solid and solid are acceptable.

We have a range of cremated remains urns suitable for international transit, including zinc lining of traditional wooden urns.

Can we view and perform ritual washing and dressing of deceased prior to transportation?

Ritual washing can be performed prior to the repatriation, most of our funeral homes have suitable facilities that will be available to you. After this has taken place your loved one will be wrapped and placed within the coffin. 

Can we place jewellery and items in the coffin? Any issues with metal detectors?

Only clothing for the deceased and personal items of jewellery should be on the deceased. All other items should be removed prior to the closure and subsequent x ray of the coffin.

We can assist in arranging a funeral in the UK?

We can assist in arranging a funeral or memorial service in the UK prior to the repatriation. Many families will have their own church or venue in mind. However, if required, we can assist in arranging a suitable church or other venue, along with an officiant of the proper denomination or religion, organist, etc. (Additional charges for this service apply).

Do you have a network of funeral directors in other countries you can recommend?

Unfortunately, we do not have a network of funeral directors we can recommend in each country. We can offer our help and guidance, to look for local funeral directors based in the country of your loved one.

Can you assist or provide guidance on how to secure a burial plot in other countries?

This is best arranged with your chosen funeral director abroad.

How do I claim through travel insurance?

If your loved one had travel insurance, the travel company with take care of the arrangements to return your loved one to your chosen funeral home. They will appoint an international funeral company to make all the arrangement.   

Do you only repatriate to capital cities?

Repatriation must be to an international customs airport, so that arrival formalities and checks can be performed.

Can you arrange a cremation in the UK and then for the ashes to be sent abroad?

Sending ashes abroad or repatriating them, can be seen as difficult. We are here to help and guide you on the steps needed to transport your loved one’s ashes abroad. We have a wide range of ashes urns suitable for international transit (Prices can vary from country to country)

A certificate can be arranged as part of a cremation in the UK which you will keep, if you are travelling with the ashes as part of your luggage on to a plane you will be required to show this certificate.

Is the process of repatriating my loved one back home change depending on if they passed away in Scotland/ Ireland/ England?

The process and documentation are very much the same, please contact our friendly team for further information.

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