Overseas Death

Overseas Death

If someone dies overseas you can arrange to have their body or ashes brought back to New Zealand. This is called repatriation. The cost of repatriation could be covered by the insurance policy of the person who has died, but if it isn’t, this cost needs to be covered by their next of kin.

Once your loved one is back in New Zealand, you are able to prepare them for their final resting place. Read more about arranging for a body to be returned to New Zealand.

What happens when your loved one dies overseas?

It can be incredibly stressful if a loved one dies while overseas, as there are added legal and financial complications involved. Most countries have dedicated support services available in this situation, through the New Zealand Embassy or other organisations, to support families in this situation. There are a few things that the next of kin needs to decide:

  • If the funeral will be held overseas or back in New Zealand
  • If your loved one will be buried or cremated
  • If you would like to repatriate the body (or ashes, if the deceased is cremated overseas).

What are the next steps?

The New Zealand Embassies and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade have a special role to provide advice and support to families, such as:

  • Arranging for next of kin to be notified by the New Zealand Police
  • Talking through options for repatriation of the body or ashes
  • Talking through options for a local funeral where the death occurred
  • Giving you details of local funeral directors who can organise the funeral, or prepare the body for repatriation
  • Talking through the different costs involved in any or all of these options.

Bringing the body back to New Zealand

There are specific requirements that need to be met to ensure the body of your loved one can be safely transported back to New Zealand including:

  • Accepting responsibility for your loved one’s care
  • Embalming and preparing them for the journey
  • Arranging the correct casket and specialist packaging for air transportation
  • Taking care of all legal documentation
  • Arranging air transportation.

When a non-New Zealand citizen dies in New Zealand

If a citizen of another country dies in New Zealand and the next of kin would like to repatriate the body back to their home country, the usual steps are to contact the relevant embassy or consulate. A New Zealand death certificate will be issued in the usual manner, and will accompany the body.

When a British citizen dies in New Zealand

When an Australian citizen dies overseas

Who to contact

If you’re overseas and someone travelling with you dies, there are two steps you need to take as soon as possible.

  1. Contact their family, specifically, their next of kin (if that is not you).
  2. Next, you will need to contact the nearest New Zealand Embassy or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Office.

They will give you help and advice on your next steps.

Repatriation is bringing home the body or the ashes of a person who has died overseas.