This is the stuff no one wants to think about when they are planning a trip – no matter whether that trip is a last-minute business meeting or a long-planned vacation. The term is repatriation and it means the return of a person’s body to their home country after their death. Repatriation can cost thousands – even tens of thousands – of dollars depending on the location and condition of the body.
Without travel insurance protection for repatriation, the death of a loved one leaves friends and family scrambling to pay for your body’s return. Health insurance plans do not provide coverage and your friends and family will have to assume all costs without travel insurance.
Never sign what you don’t understand
If you find yourself coping with the death of a loved on abroad, never sign a document you can’t read and understand. If the death is due to natural causes then there should be minimal involvement from local authorities, but if the death was caused by an accident or criminal activity, the local authorities are likely to investigate further and may wish to relieve themselves of liability. If you don’t understand the documents you are asked to sign, get a translator. Again, travel insurance assistance services representatives can help in this situation.
Get a handful of death certificates
Deaths must be registered in the country in which they occur, but you are likely to need copies of the death certificate. Get several copies – at least 4 – because you will likely need them on your trip and when you get back home and it will be harder to get them after you return.
How long does it take?
Repatriation experts say it can take 7 to 10 days to return a body, provided the death is due to natural causes. If an investigation is ongoing, it can take longer.
What is the process?
The body must be embalmed before it can be moved by public transport. If you are handling the arrangements, employ a reputable funeral director to help. Cremated ashes can be taken on public flights as hand luggage in a sealed container or urn as long as it can be X-rayed. If you are accompanying the ashes home, you must have a cremation certificate as well as a death certificate and sealing certificate to board the plane.