If someone dies outside Scotland
Last updated: 25 June 2018

Apply to bury or cremate in Scotland

If someone has died abroad and you want to bury or cremate them in Scotland, you must apply to Healthcare Improvement Scotland for permission.

To apply, fill in the application form and declaration from the Healthcare Improvement Scotland website.

A funeral director can apply for you, but you'll still need to provide them with the required documentation.

You'll also need to provide the following 'certified' documents:

  • the death certificate (or equivalent) and/or a 'certificate of registration of death' issued by the country where the person died
  • the dead person's passport (or equivalent identification)
  • a completed 'application for cremation' (you can get this from a funeral director or crematorium)

You can get a document certified from a professional, such as a doctor, solicitor, police officer or teacher. The person shouldn't be related, live with, or be in a relationship with you.

Email copies of these documents to Healthcare Improvement Scotland at

Alternatively, you can post them (using recorded delivery) to:

Healthcare Improvement Scotland
Death Certification Review Service
Norseman House
South Queensferry
EH30 9QZ

After you apply

A medical reviewer will check your application and (if successful) will send you:

  • a certificate declaring the documentation is in order
  • a certificate authorising a burial or cremation

The process takes 5 working days from when the application was received.

If the medical reviewer needs more information, they'll try to get missing documents or information as soon as possible. If they're unable to conclude it's safe to cremate, only a burial will be possible.

Bringing ashes back to Scotland

You do not need a permit to bring ashes into the UK.

You can usually carry ashes onto a plane or put them in the hold as part of your luggage.

When you take the ashes to the airport you should:

  • tell the airline in advance so they can give you advice
  • take the cremation certificate with you to answer any questions you are asked

Scattering ashes

You can scatter ashes anywhere in Scotland if you have the permission of the landowner.

Interring ashes

If you want to inter ashes in a Scottish cemetery you must contact the burial or cremation authority for the cemetery to arrange the interment.

You will need to contact the cemetery in advance to confirm what documentation is needed and pay any fee.