If requested, New Zealand Embassies overseas and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade can assist following the death of a New Zealand citizen overseas.
If the deceased is not accompanied by next of kin or a close family member, New Zealand Embassies or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade can arrange for next of kin/family in New Zealand to be notified by the New Zealand Police.
The Ministry and embassies can help the family by:
- advising on what options are available locally, including whether burial or cremation are possible, and/or the repatriation of remains or ashes to New Zealand
- advising on approximate costs of the options available
- providing contact details for local funeral directors who can manage the funeral or repatriation arrangements in consultation with the family.
When remains or ashes are being returned to New Zealand the family will need to engage a funeral director in New Zealand and a funeral director in the country where the death has occurred, to work together on arrangements.
Other countries have their own formal processes that must be followed when a death occurs, and these are often different from New Zealand. Depending on the cause of death, an autopsy or post-mortem may be required by the overseas authorities. This is governed by local law and regulations, and the New Zealand Government cannot intervene in these decisions or processes. Local regulations and conditions may also cause delays in the release of remains for cremation, burial or return to New Zealand. Consular officials can liaise with local authorities but are not able to speed up the local processes.
Embalming is not routinely carried out in some countries, and families may find that locally approved standards of embalming overseas are different from those in New Zealand.
All costs associated with the death of a New Zealand citizen overseas, including funeral expenses or repatriation of remains to New Zealand and return of personal effects, are the responsibility of the family. Travel insurance may contribute to or cover the costs relating to a death overseas.
Useful website links
The Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand (FDANZ) has information on overseas deaths and can assist family in locating a funeral director near where they live in New Zealand.
Family are welcome to contact Victim Support direct for practical and emotional support following the loss of a family member overseas.
For information on the importation of human ashes into New Zealand: https://www.customs.govt.nz/personal/prohibited-and-restricted-items/
Where a New Zealander dies overseas as a result of an injury, the family may be entitled to a grant or payment from ACC to assist with costs. ACC cover extends to New Zealand residents taking short trips overseas.
In some circumstances a funeral grant may be available from Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ).