What to do When a Death of a Family Member Has Occurred Abroad?


Having a family die is a very sad and distressful ordeal. More so if it happens while the family member is overseas. Statistics would show that more than 1000 Australians die while they are abroad, mainly due to illnesses or accidents. To minimise the stress if such an unfortunate incident occurs, there are certain things that should be done before travelling. There are also steps to take, when this actually happens.

It is vital to get travel insurance that has adequate coverage to make sure most, if not all, costs are covered when death occurs abroad. A good travel insurance would not only cover costs but also make the necessary funeral arrangements and repatriation of the body back to Australia.

If travelling with somebody, it is important to list down contact numbers and addresses of Australian consular offices and embassies in the countries they will visit. These would be useful in case there are untoward incidents that will happen while travelling, such as death.

If death does occur, the first thing that should be done is notify the nearest Australian consulate, high commission or embassy located in the country visited. Its officials will be the one to inform the local Australian authorities or police who will visit the family of the deceased to inform them of what happened to their family member overseas. They would also be advised of the steps to be taken to arrange for the funeral or the repatriation.

Other information and assistance that the Australian consular offices or embassies can provide include administrative and legal processes that need to be undergone and offer lists of local lawyers and funeral directors that can help. A funeral director overseas as well as another one in Australia will be appointed to make the needed arrangements on the family’s behalf.

Other services that can be provided include assistance in identifying the body, if needed, liaise on the family’s behalf with funeral directors of various necessities such as local quarantine regulations, obtaining clearances, etc. Australian consulates and high commissions may also help the family of the deceased in obtaining accredited English translations if applicable. They could also give advice on cost assessment, e.g., on cremation or repatriation services and assist in transferring money from Australia to the visited country to meet the costs needed.

It is indeed difficult to have a family die while abroad but the steps and advices provided would help lessen the pain and stress the family feels.

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