Guide To The Repatriation Process / Returning A Body Back To The UK

International repatriation..

...of the deceased who are either friends, family or loved ones from overseas to the UK or indeed from the UK back to a home nation is an area that requires much expertise.


There are many international and local laws involved in the process and there is the language barrier too which can bring everything to a halt.

Help & Insurance

There are several companies that can assist in the niche area of repatriation of the deceased to the UK but that is only ever the last resort.

In most cases when people go on holiday abroad or for work they have a form of insurance in place. This tends to be termed Travel Insurance or Expatriate Healthcare or Working Abroad Insurance though not all include repatriation as standard.


It can be a costly affair. Not merely financially but also time wise.

You can imagine the problems that can arise trying to get the deceased's death formalised and officiated locally, receiving the verdict of cause of death if not natural, the Death Certificate and from then gaining acknowledgement from the insurance company that cover is indeed in place.

  • This is all required while you are either abroad with the person who died trying to deal with the fallout on the ground, which in our view can be much harder to navigate than being in the UK where phone calls and assistance nearby is much easier to locate and in your own language.
  • This guide offers a few discussion points with links to organisations and websites that can assist with making the process far simpler.
  • However it must be realised if a person does travel abroad to live, work or for holiday having an insurance policy in place or a pre paid funeral that includes repatriation solves a lot of issues from the very beginning.

Repatriation From Abroad: Returning Deceased To The UK

  • There are not many countries in the world where a British Embassy or Consulate is not at least present in the Capital city.
  • While they cannot help with finances, they have contacts of all the companies you may need locally and in UK to aid in repatriation of the deceased or direct access to email and telephone.
  • This may involve English speaking solicitors to international repatriation companies.
  • If you are distraught and have no one to help you within the UK or locally, please call or visit the British Embassy or where the distance is too great, any Commonwealth (Canada, Australia) or European Union country's embassy or consulate who are legally obliged to assist you, also visa versa if an EU citizen you can visit a British Embassy.
  • While they cannot help with finances, they have contacts of all the companies you may need locally and in UK to aid in repatriation of the deceased or direct access to email and telephone.
  • If you reside in Portugal or Spain and one of their territories use the form to get a quick quote. Some providers also offer pre paid funeral plans that are actually centred around repatriation to the UK in the event of death or another EU member country.
  • However if it is not a planned decision to repatriate then contacting a UK repatriation service that offers international assistance and care as an English speaker is a wise decision. They have staff that can speak the host language, understand local laws and the documents required and can set things in motion without having people on the ground.
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Repatriation From The UK To A Foreign Country

A lot of people are attracted to the UK either as a tourist, to move, take up dual nationality or use ex Empire rights and to use British citizenship to work in the UK. 


These will predominantly be quite good English speakers with relatives back home who can likewise do the same.


There are perhaps an equal number of European Union citizens and non Commonwealth citizens who have relatives in home nations where English is not a primary language. 


Why do we focus on communication? 


In every international situation clarity reduces worry, resolves situations quicker and if a British repatriation service speaks the same lingo this is far easier than one that cannot.


That’s why it is essential to firstly choose an international repatriation service that speaks you and your family’s language and also knows the ins and outs of the legalities to repatriate to the destination required. 


For instance a UK based company can offer Germans, German speaking staff who can assist with repatriation back to Germany from any where in the world. We think it also important if you only deal with one person for the entire journey, someone who is dedicated to you and your service.

What Type Of Cover Is There For Repatriation?

  • When a person lives abroad for some time a majority do begin to forget things like health insurance and other situations which may arise, such as what should happen when they die abroad?
  • If there are no attachments to a home country then it may not be an issue but friends and even distant family may wish to see you return home should the event occur abroad.
  • You may already have cover and a form of repatriation insurance that will pay out in the event you die.

    This may have been organised personally with a pre paid funeral plan, it's always worth re-checking if such instances abroad are covered. Some do some do not.
  • There is also the aforementioned travel insurance, many include the option as an additional extra and not automatic.

    There could be choices for repatriation while still in hospital for an extended stay, immediate for reliance on home national health care or if deceased and returning to next of kin.
  • A variety of Life Assurance and Insurance packages may also have these options written in.

    Do check travel insurance terms and conditions, consider any pre paid plans and if they can assist at least with paperwork no matter if they require further sums to complete the task of arranging flight and getting the deceased home.
Services You Should Expect
  • Repatriation to and from any country or region in the world or known from the outset.
  • The provision of guidance on all regulations, permits, certificates and authorisations required by the UK authorities, any country's Embassies and Consulates and for passageway on all major airlines.
  • Trusted and rapid delivery of any documents drawn up to be delivered to Embassies in the UK and Worldwide.
  • Instant advice on local laws with regards repatriating the deceased and preparing the body for flight which can include care, embalming, washing, dressing and grooming according to any religious beliefs.
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  • Possible Private Chapel of Rest visitations locally before flight.
  • A primary Church / Memorial Service in the host country or UK before Repatriation - especially useful if family and friends in both countries.
  • Many documents may need translating so receiving officials can determine laws have been applied, both the departing country and receiving. Ranging from Death Certificate, invoicing and local authority permissions.
  • Easy and quick access to book a coffin on to the next possible freight / cargo booking. With airway bill provided.
  • A 24/7 operation is essential. Even if Embassies close, other arrangements such as flights can be pre-booked and Global time lines enables parts of a service to be completed for example America and arranging for a receiving Funeral Director in UK, France or Germany.
  • The provision, locally, of any flight allowable coffin i.e. zinc lined, air-trays, Italian and French coffins so as to be applicable to international freight law concerned with transport of the deceased. Similarly so with Urns.
  • The unsealing of such mode of transport so coffin can be readily conveyed to the Funeral Director upon landing.
  • An embalming service if not restricted as a rite, can be carried out locally and or if necessary a home nation representative flown out to apply necessary steps if according to religious or personal wishes.

How Much Does It Cost To Repatriate The Deceased?

The costs do vary, often those that are classed as International Funeral Directors can offer instant quotes from and to any destination or at least a guideline if possibly a minor airport is involved and secondary flight required.


A breakdown of some repatriation costs may involve:


  • Payments will need to be made to an Airline freight company
  • A local funeral director for preparation of the deceased
  • The cost of a coffin plus a coffin seal to abide by international flight rules
  • Dual certification, translated for both parts of the journey
  • Local authority paperwork
  • Translation services
  • Arrangement if not already in place of the funeral itself
  • The conveying of the deceased to airport before departure and to funeral home at destination.

Remember it is repatriation to a country, once on home soil the attending local Funeral Director who would have also been arranged between both parties will then transport the deceased to a final destination which may still be hundreds of miles away, though local national airports should ensure that is much less.


One company, Slaters, advertises their basic price to arrange everything as a standard all inclusive £1995 to anywhere in the world, with flight costs added on top. This could still be another £800 or more depending on the destination and airline.


Much like whole funeral plans there are pre paid repatriation plans. The plan offered by Slaters enables an instalment schedule which can be activated at the time of need once paid entirely. If you base yourself abroad and know you wish to be buried in another country it’s well worth planning for such a wish to occur.

Funeral Directors That Aid In Repatriation In Either Direction

If you already have a plan in place that doesn’t cover repatriation and you decide to undertake the task of getting the deceased home yourself, here are a few websites you may find useful. 


That either provide the single repatriation service, are departments at Airlines for arranging freight / cargo or third parties on the ground who may be able to assist.

Funeral Plans That Cater For Transport Of Deceased To Another Country

These are some of the companies that can help with all the paperwork, authorisation and certification, with contacts globally to get the deceased and you home in the quickest most efficient manner.

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“The free call that I got from FuneralGuide 
helped me to decide that

I didn’t want to leave my kids with that kind of burden.”

Steve Bailey, Hertfordshire
Find Out Repatriation Costs With A Funeral Plan