Death Abroad

When a U.S. citizen dies abroad, the Department of State is there to help.

First Steps

Hospitals or local police may notify our embassy or consulate of the death of a U.S. citizen. We then attempt to locate and inform the next of kin of the U.S. citizen’s death.  We can help the next of kin by providing information.This includes information about local burial and other arrangements.

Disposition of Remains

The burial or cremation of a body must follow U.S. and foreign law. Options depend on the foreign country's facilities and local customs. These are often very different from those in the United States. The Department of State has no funds to help return the remains or ashes of U.S. citizens, but we can help you send instructions to the right offices in the foreign country. We can also help you send private funds to cover overseas costs.

Consular Report of Death Abroad (CRODA)

First, a local (foreign) death certificate must be issued. Then, the nearest embassy or consulate may prepare a CRODA. We give copies of that report to the next of kin or legal representative. You can use this report in the United States to settle estate matters.

Personal Estate

Sometimes, the deceased has no legal representative or next of kin in the country where they died. In this case, a U.S. consular officer takes responsibility for the personal estate of the deceased U.S. citizen. This responsibility is also subject to local law.

  • The consular officer may take possession of personal items. These can include jewelry, documents and papers, and clothing. The consular officer makes an inventory of these items. Then, they carry out instructions from the legal representative or next of kin about the items.

Last Updated: March 4, 2024