Normally, when a death occurs in a hotel or guest house, the owner of the establishment takes responsibility for arranging a meeting with representatives of:
- Immigration police
- Customs office
- Hanoi External Relations office
- Investigation police
- U.S. Embassy or family
The investigation police then will examine the room and the body in the presence of representatives from these offices, and prepare a report. An inventory of the deceased’s personal effects will be made at that time. The body then will be transported to a morgue at a hospital (Viet Duc Hospital or Friendship Hospital). The consular officer on duty then may bring the deceased’s personal effects back to the Embassy for safe storage.
When the death occurs in a private home, usually the householder contacts a doctor or hospital to arrange for transportation to a morgue.
When an accident occurs, the body is usually transported to the morgue of a hospital. The same applies when the death occurs in a hospital.
The family of the deceased chooses one of the three companies in Hanoi that provide funeral services (autopsy, embalming, local burial, local cremation, or shipment of the remains to the United States). Costs are determined on a case by case basis.
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.
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
Dr. Herve Mangon
Deputy General Director: Colm Benson, Hanoi Clinic: (84-4) 3934-0666
This organization provides costs for service on a case-by-case basis. It has no quotation for reference. Call the organization for costs for a specific case.
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)
Costs are on a case-by-case basis.
The following is an estimate of costs and charges (as of Nov. 2013):
- Repatriation of ashes:
Total costs & charges: US$ 3,700.00
Including: Cold preservation (within first 2 days, additional US$50.00/day will be charged from 3th day), cremation permit, normal coffin, pick up to the crematoria, funeral ceremony, cremation, ashes urn, cremation certificate, quarantine inspection & permit, customs permit & clearance, transportation to the airport, airport fees & charges, handling charge, special tests, air freight charge and unquoted charges at destination country. Autopsy arrangement & procedures costs additional US$1,000.
- Repatriation of coffin:
Total costs & charges: US$ 8,200.00
Including: Remains disposition permit, pick up to the laboratory, laboratory rent, embalming & embalming materials, embalming certificate, international standard casket suitable for transportation, quarantine inspection & permit, customs permit & clearance, transportation to the airport, airport fees and charges, handling charge, special tests, air-freight charge and unquoted charges at destination country. Autopsy arrangement & procedures costs additional US$1,000.
23 Ngo 61/2 Lac Trung Street
Contact: Ms. Vi Thi Khoa
Mobile: (84) 903-441-269
The following is an estimate of costs and charges (as of Nov. 2013):
- Repatriation of ashes: US$ 4,000 excluding autopsy ($1,200 – 1,500). If Amcit dies in other provinces (Ha Long Bay-Quang Ninh, Sapa-Lao Cai…) $1,000 for pick-up will be added too.
- Repatriation of coffin:
Total costs & charges: US$ 8,500.00 excluding autopsy ($1200 – $1500), pick-up from other province ($1000) and refrigeration fees ($90 for the first day and $25 per each following day).
- Autopsy fees: approximately US$ 1,200 – $1,500
- Transportation: approximately US$ 1,000
- Refrigeration fees: US$ 90 for the first day, US$ 25 each additional day.
The three service providers listed above are the only service providers in the northern Vietnam region that transport human remains overseas. These three companies provide services to all northern provinces and operate as far south as Quang Tri province.
Hospitals in Hanoi that have refrigerated storage are:
Bach Mai Hospital, Huu Nghi Viet Xo Hospital, Viet Duc Hospital, Vien E Hospital, Thanh Nhan Hospital, Hopsital 108 and Hospital 354. Total refrigerated storage capacity of the hospitals is 50 bodies.
Specific facts relating to embalming, cremation, caskets, exportation, documentation requirements, preparation, shipment, and exhumation
- Embalming: The hospitals that provide embalming services are Bach Mai Hospital, Huu Nghi Viet Xo Hospital, Viet Duc Hospital and Hospital 108. Embalming costs from US$ 1,500 to US$ 2,000. In addition, each of the three service providers listed above can provide doctors to embalm remains.
- Autopsy: Vietnamese law requires an autopsy for any death that occurs outside of a hospital. If the family of the deceased does not want an autopsy, they must work with the U.S. Embassy to send a diplomatic note requesting an autopsy waiver.
- International Transportation: To transport human body remains internationally, the shipper must use a three-layer casket. International shipping also requires numerous documents from various authorities, based upon the specific circumstances of death. Required forms include some or all of the following: immigration forms, customs forms, quarantine certificates, hospital certificates, police investigation reports, police transportation authorizations.
- Exhumation: Exhumation is an option in Vietnam, but only after the remains has been interred for a minimum of 36 months.
Special requirements for deaths by infectious disease or under suspicious circumstances
In cases where a person has died from a communicable or infectious disease, the cause of death will also be noted on the quarantine certificate. In addition, human remains will need to be hermetically sealed in the presence of a quarantine officer prior to shipment overseas.
In cases where the police have investigated the cause of death, the Provincial Justice Department will also issue a Police Certificate that states the cause of death and authorizes international shipment of the remains.
- Domestic Transportation: Ambulances and funeral home trucks can be booked for transporting remains domestically.
- International Shipping: The service providers listed above usually ship remains on Thai Airways and Cathay Pacific. Both airlines have two flights per day that depart Hanoi and stop in either Bangkok or Hong Kong before continuing to the U.S. International shipping regulations stipulate human remains may not have a layover exceeding eight (8) hours between connecting flights. The estimated cost for shipping remains on Thai Airways or Cathay Pacific is US$ 4,000 to US$ 5,000.
Japan Airlines does not ship remains. Korean Air only accepts deliveries through their local transportation partners and will not work directly with the service providers listed above.
Local authorities responsible for licensing funeral directors and morticians
Vietnam does not issue licenses specifically for morticians or funeral directors. Instead, the Ministry of Health licenses hospitals, which then establish morgues, funeral homes, and crematoria. The hospitals provide training for doctors and morticians to perform services like embalming.
Local authorities responsible for making findings regarding the cause of death and for issuing death local certificates
- In the Hospital. When a person dies in a hospital, the hospital determines the cause of death and issues a death report and certificate. Based on this death report and certificate, the provincial Justice Department issues the official death certificate.
- Outside the Hospital. If a person dies outside a hospital, the police investigate, determine the cause of death, and provide the report to the Provincial Justice Department who then issue the official death certificate. Only the provincial Justice Department issues death certificates for non-Vietnamese citizen deaths.
Regulations and other useful information
- Exhumation and Shipment: Post has not processed an exhumation and shipment request, but according to Hady (service provider) the cost could reach US$ 5,000. In addition, remains can only be exhumed after they have been interred for at least 36 months.
- Exportation of Human Remains (bones/ashes):
– A Death Certificate
– A certificate from the local crematorium or People’s Committee verifying that the remains (bones or ashes) belonged to the deceased. If the remains were cremated, then the crematorium must issue a certificate verifying the ashes are those of the deceased. The permit for bone or ash remains delivery is approximately US$ 5.
– Some cases will also require a police certificate issued by the Provincial Justice Department.
- Caskets and Containers: A three-layer casket is required if the family wishes to transport the human body remains overseas. The Vietnamese Quarantine Office requires that the bone remains are clean and dry, placed in a hermetically sealed nylon bag, covered twice by cloth, and enclosed in a container. Ash remains must be placed in a waterproof bag before being placed in a container. Locally available caskets and containers meet the requirements for shipment out of the country. Hermetically sealed caskets are available in case of death from a communicable disease.
- Embalming: Extends the period a body can be maintained in ambient conditions (high temperatures and humidity) to 2 weeks before the body must be buried or cremated. Embalming is not required for local burial.
- Maximum Wait Time Before Burial of Remains: The Circular 02/2009/TT-BYT stipulates the following:a. Death by natural causes: Remains are buried within 48 hours if stored in ambient conditions. If the remains are kept in a refrigerated room with a maximum temperature of 4 degrees C, remains can be maintained up to 7 days before burial or cremation.b. Death by communicable diseases: bodies are kept for a maximum of 24 hours before burial or cremation.c. Found body: Bodies will be buried or cremated within 12 hours.d. Mass casualties (e.g., natural disaster, transportation accident): Bodies are kept up to 48 hours before burial or cremation.
- Cremation: Local and national law permit cremation. Hoan Vu Crematorium (Dai Hoa Than Hoan Vu), Phan Trong Tue Road, Tam Hiep Village, Thanh Tri District, tel: (84-4) 3647-2453 or 3688-3434, is the only cremation service provider in Hanoi. All service providers listed in Part IV use Hoan Vu Crematorium. The crematorium can produce fine ash remains, like those produced in the United States, or larger-sized pieces of bone, depending on wishes of the family.
- Exportation of Human Remains: To ship human remains overseas, the shipper must have a certified true copy of the deceased’s passport, death certificate and a quarantine permit. To obtain the quarantine certificate, a quarantine officer must go to the morgue and seal the three-layer casket in the presence of both a customs officer and an immigration officer. Then the quarantine officer issues the quarantine permit. The deceased’s family or the shipping service provider must arrange for the quarantine officer’s travel to and from the morgue. A quarantine permit costs approximately US$ 20 per body. If the body has been embalmed before shipping, the remains must also have an embalming certificate from the morgue that describes the chemicals used to preserve the body.
- Service providers charge fees in U.S. dollars, not Vietnamese dong. The following list has been compiled based on discussions with hospitals and the three service providers listed in Part IV.
Embalming: Approximately $1,500 – $2,000
Cremation: Approximately $3,000 (including transportation, autopsy, wooden casket for cremation and related paperwork)
Caskets: A three-layer casket that meets international shipping requirements costs $1,000
Autopsy: Approximately $1,000
Preparation: Approximately $1,000
Shipment: Approximately $4,000 to $5,000 per casket with Thai Airways or Cathay Pacific, based either on casket size or a per kilogram rate of $15-$17/kg.
- Local customs: In Vietnam, deceased are normally buried. Funerals are held before the remains are buried. Family and friends attend the funeral and then go with the deceased to the grave to see the deceased for the last time at the burial. The family usually holds memorial services to honor the deceased at 3 days, 7 days, 49 days and 100 days after death. Then, a memorial service is held annually on the lunar calendar date the deceased passed away.
The Embassy’s Role
The service providers are responsible for all paperwork relating to local procedures. However, the embassy will assist you by:
- Providing an official letter addressed “To whom it may concern” (in Vietnamese or with translation) with 6 or 7 copies for the appropriate authorities (depend on specific case they may be investigation police, transportation police, tour agency, justice department, external relations department, customs office, quarantine office, local police, etc.) confirming that the chosen company is authorized by the next of kin (NOK) of the deceased to take care of his/her disposition, that whether or not the NOK wishes an autopsy or requests a waiver of an autopsy and the wishes of the NOK as to disposition of the body.
- Providing a Mortuary Certificate a Local Sealed Casket Mortuary Certificate. The chosen company is responsible for providing post with the official Vietnamese Death Certificate. The Consular Report of Death of a U.S. Citizen is prepared based on this death certificate. Procedure for this official Death Certificate may take 1 to 2 months.