Repatriation of the remains of a deceased person to any country can be a complicated and costly process. You may therefore wish to consider having the body cremated in France and having the ashes returned to your chosen country.

In order to obtain the release of the body for repatriation a relative or an appointed representative must instruct a funeral director in France and the UK (or a country of their choice).

If the deceased was insured for repatriation, it is important to contact the insurance company as they will make the necessary arrangements. Insurance companies normally have a standing agreement with a funeral director in the UK to arrange repatriations. If you are a second home owner and your main residence is in the UK and you have travel insurance, then this may also cover repatriation.

If there is no insurance cover then the next of kin will be responsible for the cost of the repatriation and will need to appoint a funeral director in France to make arrangements for the repatriation. The French funeral director will then liaise with the funeral director in the UK.

The next of kin should also be aware that any hospital bills must be paid before a body will be released for repatriation.

French and UK funeral directors will normally work together and liaise with each other to ensure that all the necessary requirements are met in France and the UK.

French procedures differ significantly to those in the UK, and whilst families may wish for arrangements to be made quickly, this is not always possible.

The documents that are required for repatriation are:

• The deceased’s passport
• Deceased’s birth certificate and marriage certificate (translated)
• Death certificate
• Certificate of embalming
• Laissez-passer (this allows the coffin to pass through communes and countries, this is provided by the funeral home)
• Certificate from the hospital/mortuary indicating there were no notifiable diseases present when the deceased died

Relatives will need to decide whether they wish to return with the body and make appropriate travel arrangements for themselves.

A funeral in the UK should not be arranged until the body has arrived in the country and been cleared by the coroner. As the cause of death is not given on the French death certificate enquiries may be made into the circumstances surrounding the death. This is to determine whether the coroner should be involved. This could delay the funeral until a post mortem examination is made and an inquest held to determine the cause of death. This will normally only happen for a death that was sudden, accidental or unexpected.

You can approach the funeral home in France who is arranging the repatriation to ask for a hand written letter from the doctor who looked after the deceased prior to their death to write a statement indicating the circumstances prior to death. This must be on headed notepaper and stamped with the hospital and doctors details and then signed by the doctor.

Similarly if the death was sudden, accidental or unexpected and dealt with by the police then to approach the Inspector or officer who witnessed the body after death for a hand written statement indicating the same as above.

The coroner in the UK does not have access to the French judicial file. However, the coroner may request a copy of the French police and post mortem results through the Consulate if he so wishes and this can delay any funeral plans.

The cost of repatriation varies greatly so only a rough guide can be provided. A repatriation could amount to €5000 before the cost of a funeral in the UK. It is important for families to be aware and thoroughly consider the costs before making final decisions regarding repatriation.

While the British Embassy may assist in obtaining documents such as death certificates, it cannot help pay for the cost of relatives to travel to where a death occurs. Neither can the Embassy pay the costs of repatriation of bodies back to the UK except in exceptional circumstances


Angela Clohessy Dip. FD MBIFD



Copyright 2003-2017 COUNSELLING IN FRANCE. All rights reserved.