LOSING a loved one is never easy. Unfortunately, death comes to us all at one point or another and is something that we have to deal with. Dying abroad can cause all sorts of issues for families at home, so ensuring you have a pre-planned and pre-paid funeral plan in order is essential for all ex-pats.
When a relative dies, there are a number of matters that need to be addressed, one of which will be the burial, cremation, or in some cases, the repatriation of the deceased to their country of birth.
Living in a foreign country can present a number of issues such as the language barrier, cultural differences, and the funeral/repatriation procedures themselves which can often seem alien from what we are used to “back home”.
If you are living in Spain permanently, it is important that you have at least a basic understanding of the procedures involved and how to deal with such an event. This will help you deal with the situation a lot better and minimise what will already be a very sad and stressful time in your life.
Below we list the main aspects and processes of dealing with the death of a British national here in Spain. We understand that speaking about death is never an easy subject, but it’s important that you are well informed and prepared for any eventuality while residing here in Spain.
Unlike in other countries, a relative is not required to identify the deceased, as this can usually be done by checking documentation, such as passports, driving licenses, and fingerprint records. If there is any doubt, a judge will request DNA for identification purposes, although this can take some time.
It’s worth noting that in Spain, it is the law to embalm and preserve the body within 48 hours. If the deceased is a foreign national they will usually embalm the body as opposed to just preserving it as this is a requirement for all remains that are to be transferred out of Spain.
If the deceased has travel or some other form of insurance, it is important that the next-of-kin speak to the insurance company as quickly as possible so that burial, cremation, or repatriation costs can be met. If the deceased is not insured, the family will need to pay the costs. Unfortunately, the British Consulate or Foreign and Commonwealth Office are not liable for any of these expenses.
Repatriation, Local Burial or Cremation
Once you have contacted the funeral directors and insurance company, you will need to decide on whether you want the deceased to be buried locally, cremated locally or repatriated to the country of their birth.
Repatriation To The UK
In the event that the deceased has taken out a funeral plan, it is usually the case that the insurance company will have a working agreement with an international funeral director in the UK who will arrange repatriation.
If the deceased does not have an end of life policy, the next-of-kin will have to make arrangements with an international funeral director in the UK or a local one in Spain which provides repatriations to the UK.
All necessary documentation such as death certificate, certificate of embalming, and permission to transfer the remains to the UK will be provided by the Spanish undertaker.
Local Burial In Spain
If you wish to proceed with a local burial here in Spain, you will need to instruct a local Spanish funeral director. In most cases, they will have someone who can speak English, but if this is not the case the British Consulate in Spain will be able to speak with them on your behalf.
In some cases, coffin bearers amongst many other standard necessities may not be included in the basic price, so it is important to establish this when making contact with the funeral director.
Local Cremation In Spain
As in the UK, cremation is common in Spain. Crematoriums in Spain are modern, well equipped and on a par with those in the UK.
If you wish to take the ashes back to the UK, the local funeral directors will be able to provide the necessary documentation and transportation if necessary.
You should also check with the airline to see if there are any restrictions or any necessary procedures that will need to be followed.
It’s not a simple process and for any ex-pat living in Spain, a pre-planned, pre-paid funeral policy should be a top priority just like health care when moving overseas. This not only saves your family money but also guarantees that your wishes are met.