A 3-Step Guide to Arranging a Singaporean’s Death Abroad
Making funeral arrangements in Singapore is already a struggle in itself when you have plenty of legal and financial procedures to sort out. It can get even more complicated when a loved one passes away overseas.
We know you probably have plenty of questions regarding that so this guide will help you plan the next steps in case a loved one passes away abroad. It’s better to be prepared so you don’t get too overwhelmed when it happens, so read on to know more.
Step 1: Contact Foreign Authorities
If a loved one passes away unexpectedly abroad, the first thing you should do is to contact foreign authorities of the host country.
It can be good to start with the Singaporean Overseas Mission (like embassies, consulates, etc.) in the country where your loved one has passed away.
The next-of-kin (NOK) should register their death as soon as possible in order to obtain a death certificate.
Each country has different procedures regarding registering a death, but the Singaporean Overseas Mission can give you a better idea of what to do next. You may find the nearest one here.
If it has been determined that your loved one didn’t pass away due to natural causes (e.g. illness/medical condition), the NOK must also request for a police report from the host country.
Note that the embassy or consulate cannot investigate the cause of death.
Once you receive the death certificate, you’ll need to report the death to the ICA Registry of Births and Deaths in Singapore. The reporting can also be done via a proxy with a letter of authorisation from the deceased’s family.
Step 2: Decide What to Do With the Remains
You have two options moving forward. You may either opt to repatriate the body back to Singapore or you can have your loved one cremated overseas first before sending their remains back home.
Once your family has reached a decision, you may ask the Singaporean embassy or consulate for a list of local undertakers, which you can liaise with directly.
If you chose to have your loved one’s body repatriated for religious reasons, you can look for an undertaker knowledgeable of your religion’s funeral rites. This includes Buddhists, Taoists, Muslims, Christians, Catholics, and Hindus.
Just keep in mind that your chosen undertaker should ideally be familiar with international repatriation arrangements and requirements to make things easier for you.
Step 3: Liaise with the Embassy and Your Chosen Undertaker
Once you’ve found your preferred undertaker, the next step is to remain in constant contact with them to arrange the logistics of sending your loved one’s remains back home.
The Singaporean embassy or consulate can provide you with advice on cost estimates regarding burial/cremation, plus transportation of remains and personal belongings of the deceased to Singapore.
Be sure to consider the size of the casket or urn, which will affect transportation costs.
Bear in mind that the Singaporean embassy or consulate can’t shoulder any type of funeral or transportation expenses. In other words, you have to pay for everything out of your own pocket.
It can also be helpful to contact your loved one’s insurance company or travel operator (if applicable) to see if they’ve taken out a travel insurance policy. This insurance policy can be used to cover some funeral or repatriation costs.