When a U.S. Citizen Dies Abroad, Consular Officers:
- Confirm the death, identity, and U.S. citizenship of the deceased.
- Notify the next-of-kin when needed.
- Provide information about the disposition of the remains and the personal effects of the deceased.
- Provide guidance to family members on forwarding funds to cover costs related to the disposition of the remains.
- Serve as provisional conservator of the estate if there is no legal representative in the country.
- Prepare documents for the disposition of the remains in accordance with instructions from the next-of-kin or legal representative.
- Oversee the performance of the disposition of the remains and the distribution of the effects of the deceased. (See Togo Disposition of Remains Report — updated August 2019)
- Send signed copies of the Consular Report of Death of an U.S. Citizen Abroad to the next-of-kin or legal representative for use in settling estate matters in the United States.
A Consular Report of Death of a U.S. Citizen Abroad Is:
- Issued by the U.S. Embassy in Lomé, Togo.
- An administrative document that provides essential facts about the death, disposition of remains, and custody of the personal estate of the deceased U.S. citizen.
- Generally used in legal proceedings in the United States as proof of death.
- Based on the foreign death certificate, and cannot be completed until the foreign death certificate is issued.
A Foreign Death Certificate Is:
- Issued by the local authority, often the Mairie or the Etat Civil of the prefecture in which the death took place.
- Written in French and prepared according to local laws.
- In some instances, not accepted in the United States for insurance and estate purposes.
Obtaining Copies of the Report of Death
- A Consular Officer will send the family up to 20 certified copies at the time of death at no fee.
U.S. Restrictions on Importation of Remains
CDC requirements for importing human remains depend upon if the body has been embalmed, cremated, or if the person died from a quarantinable communicable disease.
At this time, COVID-19 is a quarantinable communicable disease in the United States and the remains must meet the standards for importation found in 42 Code of Federal Regulations Part 71.55 and may be cleared, released, and authorized for entry into the United States only under the following conditions:
- The remains are cremated; OR
- The remains are properly embalmed and placed in a hermetically sealed casket; OR
- The remains are accompanied by a permit issued by the CDC Director. The CDC permit (if applicable) must accompany the human remains at all times during shipment.
- Permits for the importation of the remains of a person known or suspected to have died from a quarantinable communicable disease may be obtained through the CDC Division of Global Migration and Quarantine by calling the CDC Emergency Operations Center at 770-488-7100 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please see CDC’s guidance for additional information.