Direct Cremate

What to Do If a Loved One Dies While Traveling Abroad

Did a loved one suddenly pass away while traveling abroad? Here’s what you need to do to arrange transport of the remains back to the U.S.
How to Handle a Death While Traveling Abroad
How to Handle a Death While Traveling Abroad

Maybe a loved one decided to do a semester overseas, or they were taking a once in a lifetime trip. Perhaps they were in another country for work. Whatever brings a person away from their home country, it’s always devastating if something happens and a loved one passes away unexpectedly. These deaths are almost always a shock and can be difficult to handle for a number of reasons.

If you find yourself dealing with this situation, we’re here for you. We’ve provided advice on what to do to make sure everything is handled appropriately and the deceased’s remains can be transported back home. 

Contact the Country’s U.S. Embassy or the U.S. Consular

The first thing you’ll need to do is contact the U.S. embassy in the country where your loved one died. If there is no embassy, contact the U.S. Consulate office. The officials at the embassy or a consulate officer can act like a middleman that makes it much easier to gather information. They can work with local authorities, help with documentation and provide assistance in making funeral arrangements.

The same process should be used if you are from another country and a loved one dies here in the U.S. 

Arrange Transport Back Home

Transporting remains between states is complex, but overseas transport can be even more challenging. Different countries have different disposition laws and regulations. It’s one reason why many people choose to have the body transported back home from overseas first, even if they plan to cremate. If you prefer cremation there’s a chance transport back to the U.S. will be necessary because some countries only allow burial. 

The U.S. consulate or embassy official will make sure the deceased’s remains are properly prepared. They’ll also help you with making any necessary payments.

Fill Out the Required Documentation

The consulate officer or embassy official will take the lead with the documentation that’s required for transport. There are four documents that need to be completed in order for the deceased’s remains to be transported:

Consular Mortuary Certificate – A consular officer will prepare the certificate so that the remains can go through customs. 

Local Death Certificate – Just as in the U.S., the local death certificate will note essential information about the person, place of death and cause of death. 

Local Funeral Director Affidavit – An affidavit from a local funeral director is needed to verify the only things being transported are the remains, clothing and any packing material that’s required for safe transport. If any embalming or other preparations were done that will be noted too. 

Transit Permit – Once the three other documents are complete you may also receive a transit permit from local health authorities. 

Get the Consular Report of Death Abroad (CRODA)

The consular report is used to verify and document the death of a U.S. citizen that happens outside the country. It’s an official administrative document that serves as proof of a death. The CRODA is needed to file a claim on a life insurance policy or to take legal action. 


If a loved one died while traveling abroad give Direct Cremate a call or text. And if a loved one passes away in the U.S. while traveling, we can ship the cremains internationally. Our team can help arrange no nonsense direct cremation that’s simple, easy and affordable no matter where you are in the world.

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