Scottish repatriation

Following some recent cases, the Death Certification Review Service (DCRS) in Scotland has requested a message is communicated regarding a funeral director’s obligations when they have been appointed by a family to handle a repatriation.

There is a set procedure for cases where someone Scottish dies abroad and their body is being repatriated to Scotland for cremation or burial. In all cases, an application must be made to DCRS.

Deaths abroad

Deaths outside of the UK must be registered according to the regulations of the country where the death occurred. Before you can have a body repatriated to Scotland, you will need to obtain the death certificate or equivalent and authorisation for the removal of the body from the appropriate authorities in the country where the death occurred.

The Death Certification Review Service, run by Healthcare Improvement Scotland, is responsible for checking relevant paperwork and authorising burial or cremation of people who have died outside of the UK and have been returned to Scotland.

From 14 September 2015, in accordance with Scottish Government Statutory Guidance 2015, supporting documents for repatriation of deaths abroad must be certified.

The process

The person applying for authorisation to bury or cremate (often a funeral director or arranger) must supply the review service with the following:

  1. A completed application form
  2. A post-mortem examination application (if applicable)
  3. A completed declaration

The person applying must also supply the review service with certified copies of the following:

The death certificate (or equivalent) and/or certificate of registration of death (issued by the country where the person has died)

  • Passport of the deceased (or equivalent identification)
  • A completed Form A for cremations only (application for cremation)
  • Any other relevant paperwork

Assistance with post-mortem examinations

For some deaths that occur outside of the UK the paperwork provided by the country where the person died may not contain information on the cause of death. If, following reasonable enquiries, the cause of death is still not clear, the family may be able to apply to the review service for assistance (including financial assistance) to arrange a post-mortem examination.

This may help to establish the cause of death. This is not an investigation of a “suspicious” death.

An application form, Assistance with post-mortem examinations, can be downloaded from the web address below and electronic copies of these documents should then be emailed to the review service at, or posted to the DCRS at the postal address below. For a post-mortem to be undertaken a further consent form will need to be completed after a face to face discussion with a doctor. For information about post-mortem examination and the areas that will be discussed see the information leaflets here.

Further information on deaths abroad can be found here.

The Healthcare Improvement Scotland Death Certification Review Service is at Norseman House, 2 Ferrymuir, South Queensferry, EH30 9QZ.

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