The possibility of dying while travelling always existed. One could get into a car accident, victim of crime, etc, so the question is:

What happens when you die?

Specifically, are there international treaties that establish a procedure to follow when a foreigner dies in a certain country? Now, I know that International treaties are rarely signed by all nations, so there will be exceptions but if there are common agreements and procedures, those are the ones I would like to know.

If there are any: What do these treaties say? Do they include following a will legally written in another country.

Are procedures depending on the country of death, citizenship, residence or combination of these? If there are no treaties covering death of a foreigner, then it is possible we have to ask what happens when an Afghan dies in Albania to a Zambian in Zimbabwe!

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    The question is very broad and multifacetted, not sure it's a good fit for this site. Why would you think or hope there are common procedures or that bodies would systematically be repatriated (and to which “home” country)?
    – Relaxed
    May 27, 2020 at 14:23
  • nfda.org/resources/operations-management/shipping-remains/… has some information that may be useful in an answer. May 27, 2020 at 15:27
  • @Relaxed - Thanks, simplified and you are right, hope was a poor choice of wording. Just want to know what common agreements exist, if any, before we go on to very specific versions between all country-pairs. The answer can be that it depends on the pair of countries and I'm fine with that too, just because there is no one answer doesn't mean the question is broad because the asker is unlikely to know.
    – Itai
    May 27, 2020 at 15:45
  • 15
    You stop caring about what happens when you die.
    – mustaccio
    May 28, 2020 at 0:54
  • 1
    Would the title be better phrased as ‘… if …’ rather than ‘…when…’? After all, many of us won't die while travelling abroad.
    – gidds
    May 28, 2020 at 10:13

1 Answer 1


By default, you would just be buried locally according to the local procedures. In particular, if some burial practices are forbidden or there is a short delay to dispose of the remains, these rules still apply. Being a foreign national would not necessarily prevent the local authorities from proceeding with a burial.

If the family wants the remains to be buried differently or elsewhere, they have to bear the costs and face different hurdles (to get the permission on both ends, etc.) It's possible to get some assistance from your country's consulates abroad, from companies specializing in this (some funeral homes advertise these services) or to get an insurance covering the costs (“repatriation of remains“).

Article 37 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations does provide that when a state learns of the death of a foreign national, they should inform their consulate. This convention has been ratified by nearly all countries in the world and reflects older international customs so this rule would be observed very broadly.

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    The insurance term for this coverage, by the way, is "repatriation of remains". At least in the USA, it is frequently included in travel insurance policies. May 27, 2020 at 14:54
  • @MichaelSeifert Thanks, I added that to the answer.
    – Relaxed
    May 27, 2020 at 16:17
  • 1
    Addition: I believe ( = should really check sources ) that if you die in a plane crash or on a ship there might be special rules.
    – ghellquist
    May 28, 2020 at 16:05

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