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What to do first

You must register the death according to the laws of the country where the person died.

If the death happens in England, Wales or abroad, you can either:

  • arrange a local burial or cremation in the country where they died
  • bring the body back to Scotland

Get a death certificate

If you want to bring the body back to Scotland, you'll need a death certificate (or equivalent) and permission from the appropriate authorities to move the body out of the country.

Once you have a death certificate, you can use it in Scotland if you need to confirm the person has died – such as with a bank or a funeral director. You may need to get a certified translation of the death certificate if it's not in English.

If the death happened abroad you can also register the death on GOV.UK. This means a record of the death will be sent to the National Records of Scotland.

Being told about the death

If the person dies abroad while you're at home and the death has been reported to the British Consulate, they'll ask the police to tell the next of kin.

If you hear about the death from anyone else (for example, a tour operator), you should contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours) for help with arrangements. The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office also have further guidance on what to do after a British national dies abroad.

In England or Wales

If someone dies in England or Wales, you need permission from a coroner to move the body for a funeral outside the country. You need to apply at least 4 days before you want the body to be moved.

Find a local coroner using the Coroners' Society of England and Wales website.

You can choose to arrange a local funeral if you want to.

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