Death abroad

Reporting a death

You should register the death according to local regulations and obtain a death certificate from the proper local authorities. You may need a local death certificate (authenticated and translated if necessary by officials at the nearest Canadian government office abroad) in order to register the death with the Vital Statistics Office of the Canadian province or territory where the deceased last resided. The Canadian government office abroad will charge a fee for each consular service it provides.

To report the death of a Canadian citizen abroad, contact the nearest Canadian government office abroad or our Emergency Watch and Response Centre.

Repatriating remains

Returning the remains of a loved one to Canada requires the assistance of qualified funeral homes both in Canada and in the country where the death occurred. You must confirm whether any travel health insurance purchased by the deceased will cover the preparation and repatriation of the remains to Canada or, alternatively, cremation or local burial. You may contact us for assistance.  

The family of the deceased will need to make an early decision about whether it wishes the remains to be returned to Canada, or buried or cremated in the other country. Please read the Canada Border Services Agency’s Importation and exportation of human remains and other human tissues, which explains the rules and processes for returning remains to Canada.

The amount of time required to repatriate remains can vary greatly and is determined by a number of factors, including the location and cause of death.

Importing cremated remains into Canada

You do not need a copy of the death certificate to bring cremated human remains into Canada. However, it is recommended the importer should carry a copy of the death and cremation certificate and ensure that the remains are in a container that can easily be scanned (e.g., cardboard, wood or plastic).

Transporting cremated remains

If you are flying, you can carry cremated remains in your carry-on or checked baggage. Ask your funeral director about temporary containers for transportation purposes. Containers made of plastic, cardboard or cloth, are more likely to clear the x-ray machine at airport security and be permitted past the checkpoint. If the container is made of a dense material such as metal, stone or ceramic, the screening officers will not be able to see its contents clearly and will reject it. In this case the contained cannot be placed in your checked baggage and you will be required to make alternate arrangements to ship it. You can bring your empty permanent container with you and arrange for a funeral home at your destination to transfer the contents.

The screening officers will not open a cremation container or inspect a container that has been opened, unless it is empty.

If you are planning to fly with cremated remains, please contact the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority  or call 1 800 O-Canada.

Government assistance

If a Canadian citizen dies abroad, officials at the nearest Canadian Government office can:

  • help to identify the remains of a Canadian citizen if local authorities, family members or friends are not able to do so
  • provide a list of laboratories offering forensic identification services (DNA, dental records, fingerprints)
  • authenticate a local death certificate for insurance or repatriation purposes
  • start the process of notifying next of kin, usually with the help of Canadian police
  • advise you about burying a Canadian citizen and provide information on local internment options, costs and funeral service providers
  • help you to obtain the appropriate documentation, including a death certificate, an autopsy report and police reports where applicable. Official reports are released or obtained through formal channels at the discretion of local authorities
  • help to repatriate the embalmed or cremated remains to Canada at the earliest possible time
  • help to return personal effects to Canada or arrange to dispose of them in another country
  • help to obtain information from local authorities on the circumstances surrounding the death
  • help to obtain information on police investigations, arrests and court proceedings, if the death was the result of murder or suicide
  • help to obtain the necessary documentation for insurance companies to facilitate the payment or investigation of claims 

Please note that representatives of the Canadian government abroad will not:

  • pay for the burial, cremation or repatriation of a deceased Canadian
  • use public funds to repatriate remains
  • pay for the shipment of personal effects to Canada
  • intervene in private legal matters relating to the death
  • translate official documents such as death certificates or autopsy reports for the family
  • provide legal advice on issues such as estate law, wills and trusts
  • investigate the death of a Canadian or intervene in a local investigation of the death

You or the deceased’s insurance company must pay all costs related to the repatriation of remains and personal belongings.

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