Requirements for returning a deceased person to the United States (COVID-19):
Per the CDC’s website, the CDC does not require an autopsy before the remains of a person who died overseas are returned to the United States. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the death, some countries may require an autopsy. Sources of support to the family include the local consulate or embassy, travel insurance provider, tour operator, faith-based and aid organizations, and the deceased’s employer. There likely will need to be an official identification of the body and official documents issued by the consular office.
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. If you are working with a funeral home in the UK, please see them for further guidance.
Assistance in the event of a Death of a U.S. Citizen
We can assist family and friends in the event of the death of a U.S. citizen in the United Kingdom. We can act as liaison in arranging the disposition of remains and help with forwarding personal effects. The family or legal representative must pay all funeral home charges, shipping costs for the remains and personal effects (if applicable). We will work with any funeral home selected by the family to ensure proper documentation for shipment of remains to the United States. We maintain a list of three funeral homes that are familiar with international shipping requirements.
Even if no assistance is needed in making funeral arrangements, the death of a U.S. citizen, whether resident or tourist in the United Kingdom, should be reported to the Embassy or Consulate so that a Report of Death of a U.S.citizen Abroad can be issued. This document is necessary to settle legal and estate matters in the United States.
We can issue up to 20 copies of the Report of Death of a U.S. Citizen, which is usually sufficient in number to settle matters in the United States. For more information on this document, please see the Report of Death of a U.S. Citizen Abroad (PDF 57KB).