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.
The U.S. Embassy Hanoi is ready to assist family and friends in the tragic event of the death of a U.S. citizen in Vietnam. The American Citizen Services unit 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.
Consular Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad
This document is issued by an American Embassy or Consulate to reflect the facts of the death abroad of an American citizen. The document is based upon the local death certificate, and cannot be completed until the local death certificate is issued. It is generally required by insurance companies and other entities in the U.S. before in determining the distribution of death benefits.
In order to issue a Consular Report of Death Abroad, the American Citizen Services unit must first receive all of the following:
- The original Vietnamese death certificate
- The original U.S. passport of the deceased
- Information on the deceased. Please complete this form in advance of arrival.
The American Citizen Services unit will send the following documents to the next-of-kin:
- Consular Report of Death of a U.S. Citizen Abroad (A maximum of 20 copies are provided free-of-charge; additional certified copies may be ordered from the Department of State for a fee.)
- Copy of Vietnamese death certificate
- The deceased’s canceled U.S. passport
Please follow the link below to the Department of State’s website for additional information on Reports of Death Abroad.
Reporting and Documenting a Death in Vietnam
The body of the deceased is taken to the nearest morgue or hospital pending funeral or shipment arrangements. Before burial or transportation can be arranged, the local police of the ward where the deceased was residing must be notified. If the American died at a hospital, the hospital will issue a report of death. When the death occurs at a private residence, a family member of the deceased must present the letter/declaration of death to be verified and sealed by the police of the ward in question. The Report of Death or the Statement/Declaration of Death is presented to the Justice Office of the District or Provincial People’s Committee to obtain the Vietnamese Death Certificate.
Under Vietnamese law, the family should contact the Embassy to obtain a Diplomatic Note detailing the family’s request regarding the disposition of remains (burial/cremate/shipment). An autopsy is required for foreigners who die in Vietnam, if the death was of a suspicious nature. However, the family may request that an autopsy be waived. To do this, the Embassy must prepare a letter stating the family’s wish to handle the disposition of remains, and stating that it has no objection to the waiver of autopsy. The Vietnamese authorities will then issue a permit for burial or cremation. If the body is to be shipped to the United States, the next of kin (or a legal representative) must obtain a Quarantine Permit for Exportation of Corpse. Local funeral services can help with this matter.
List of Service Providers
DISCLAIMER: The U.S. Embassy Hanoi, Vietnam assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the following persons or firms. Names are listed alphabetically, and the order in which they appear has no other significance. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the funeral directors, morticians and other service providers.
Hady Service Co., Ltd.
11 Ngo Ba Trieu, Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel: (84-24) 3821-1405
Fax: (84-24) 3821-0935
Cell phone: (84) 912-223-969 (Ms. Van Anh)
International SOS Assistance
72 Xuan Dieu Street, Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel: (84-24) 3718-6390 – ext. 190
Head Office: 1 Dang Thai Mai Street, Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel: (84-24) 3934-0555
Fax: (84-24) 3934-0556
23 Ngo 61/2 Lac Trung Street, Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel: 84 24-3821-0910
Contact: Ms. Vi Thi Khoa
Mobile: (84) 903-441-269
Disposition and Repatriation of Remains
When a U.S. Citizen dies in Vietnam, the body is usually preserved until instructions are received from the next-of-kin regarding the disposition of remains. There are normally two options:
- Cremation and interment in Vietnam or shipment of ashes to the United States or other location
- Embalming in Vietnam and air shipment to the United States or other location for burial.
Please note that embalming and mortuary services in Vietnam may not meet U.S. standards. Families are advised to consult with a funeral director in the United States about the advisability of viewing remains and conducting an open-casket funeral.
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 maybe 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 maybe 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.
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.
The next-of-kin or legal representative of the deceased is responsible for paying all expenses and costs associated with shipping the remains and any personal effects. In most cases, the next-of-kin is able to make payment arrangements directly with a service provider.
The cost for preparation, cremation and air shipment of ashes to the United States is estimated at USD 3,500 to USD 4,000. Should the next of kin decide to have the remains returned to the United States for burial, the costs are significantly higher due to the high cost of airfreight and embalming. The cost for preparation, embalming and air shipment of remains to the United States is estimated at USD 8,000 to USD 9,000 or more depending on the airline and cost for the services provided by the funeral company.
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 are able to issue a Consular Report of Death Abroad; however, this document can only be issued once the local authorities have issued an official death certificate.