Death of a U.S. Citizen

Important information regarding remain repatriation during the current COVID-19 outbreak:
U.S. citizens should be aware that due to current travel restrictions imposed by countries around the world and the limited number of international flights departing Vietnam, repatriation of bodies can be extremely difficult, even if a person did not die from a quarantinable communicable disease. We strongly encourage families to work with local service providers to seek guidance and possible solutions to remains repatriation.  For general information regarding the COVID-19 situation in Vietnam, please click here.

In the tragic event of the death of a family member overseas, the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi and U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City can:

  • Confirm the death, identity, and U.S. citizenship of the deceased.
  • Attempt to locate and notify the next-of-kin.
  • Provide information about the disposition of the remains and personal effects of the deceased.
  • Prepare documents for the disposition of the remains in accordance with instructions from the next-of-kin or legal representative.
  • Provide guidance on forwarding funds to cover costs.
  • Serve as provisional conservator of the estate if there is no legal representative in the country.
  • Send the Consular Report of Death Abroad to the next-of-kin or legal representative for use in settling estate matters in the United States.


  • The deceased’s family may request an autopsy performed by Vietnamese authorities.  Vietnamese autopsy reports take at least 30 business days to produce and may fall short of the standard expected in the United States.  Next-of-kin should discuss with the service provider the cost of obtaining a copy of the autopsy report.
  • Autopsies are not typically performed on U.S. citizens who die in hospitals, except at the request and expense of the next-of-kin.  Hospitals are normally able to provide a cause of death, which is required for issuance of a Vietnamese death certificate.

What the Consular Section Cannot Do

  • Investigate the cause of your relative’s death, or solicit the services of a private investigator on your behalf.
  • Perform an autopsy. Autopsies are performed at the direction of the Vietnamese government, and are frequently required for foreigners who die a suspicious death in Vietnam or die of unknown causes. Please note that the Vietnamese government is not bound to share the results of an autopsy with family members. Autopsies are sometimes waived at the request of the family.
  • Provide a death certificate.  Death certificates in Vietnam are the sole discretion of the Vietnamese government.  We can issue a Report of Death Abroad, but this document can only be issued once the local authorities have issued an official death certificate.