What Happens When A Canadian Dies Abroad?

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    Traveling abroad is exciting, but sometimes unexpected things happen, like getting sick or having an accident that leads to death. This article will explain what it means for Canadians if a loved one dies in another country, whether they have a will or not. We will look at what to do, what documents are needed, how to bring the person's body back to Canada, and how much it costs. Understanding these things can help travellers and their families be prepared for difficult situations. 

    If a Canadian citizen dies abroad, what needs to happen?

    It can be a stressful and confusing experience when someone dies out of the country. The process can be a lot smoother and more clear if the deceased person has a legal will and other documents in place. So the first thing to do is get access to those documents, if they exist. 

    Choosing a representative for the deceased 

    When a Canadian dies in another country, it's important to find someone who can be a contact for the local authorities and the Canadian government. This person is called the representative for the deceased. They can be in Canada or in the country where the death happened. They should have access to the deceased person's documents, like the person's will and power of attorney documents. 

    Telling the deceased person’s insurance company and bank

    Letting the person's insurance company know about their death is important. The insurance company needs to be told what happened and given all the details and relevant documents. This will help with any insurance claims, such as travel, health, or life insurance, and will make things easier for the person's family.

    The deceased person’s bank will also need to be notified, so that their bank account can be closed and their finances distributed appropriately. 

    Finding a funeral home 

    Finding a good funeral home in the country where the person died is very important. Working with the deceased person’s representative, the funeral home will help with all the arrangements, like preparing the body to bring it back to Canada. Some funeral homes are experienced in international funeral arrangements, so they can help with making arrangements in both countries if you decide to have the funeral in Canada. These funeral homes will know what needs to be done and they will respect the person's customs and beliefs, which will be a comfort to the family.

    Telling the Canadian Government about the death

    It's crucial to tell the right government programs and departments in Canada about the death. These could include the Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security, Veterans Affairs Canada, and Employment and Social Development Canada. By letting them know, the person's benefits can be stopped or transferred correctly. 

    You can read more about notifying the Canadian Government when a death occurs here

    Dealing with documents 

    Determining what to do with the deceased's important documents is essential. These may include passports, identification cards, and other personal records. Safeguarding these documents is crucial to protect the deceased's identity and to assist in settling any outstanding matters, such as property or financial affairs. 

    Speaking with the local government 

    It's a good idea to talk to the government or local authorities of the country where the person died to find out what needs to happen next. Each country has its own rules about death certificates, legal steps, and other requirements about bringing a body back to Canada. By getting advice from the local authorities, the process can go more smoothly and you can make sure the local laws are being followed. 

    What if a Canadian dies abroad without a will? 

    In the unfortunate event that a Canadian citizen dies abroad without a will, i.e. they die intestate, the distribution of their assets and estate can become more complex. Laws regarding intestate succession vary from country to country, and it may involve lengthy legal procedures and additional costs. Therefore, it is recommended to work with a legal professional who specializes in international estate matters to make sure that the deceased's wishes are respected and their assets are distributed based on local and Canadian laws.

    What documents are needed if a Canadian dies abroad? 

    To navigate the process after someone dies abroad, certain documentation is required. This includes getting an official death certificate from the country where the death occurred. Additionally, other documents, such as the deceased's passport, identification, and proof of citizenship, will be necessary to confirm their identity and facilitate other necessary processes.

    Documents needed to transport or repatriate remains back to Canada 

    The repatriation of remains refers to the process of bringing a deceased person's body back to their home country. People often choose to do this when they want someone buried or cremated in their home country. It also allows the person’s family and loved ones to fulfill cultural, religious, or personal preferences regarding the final resting place of the deceased.

    If the decision is made to repatriate the deceased's remains to Canada, specific documentation will be required. This typically includes a death certificate, a burial transit permit, and a certificate of embalming or cremation. This documentation can be obtained by working closely with the funeral home and the Canadian consulate or embassy in the country of death.

    You can read more about the requirements for the repatriation of remains to Canada here

    How to get a death certificate from another country

    Getting a death certificate in another country will depend on the local regulations, so it’s best for the deceased person’s representative to work with the local funeral home and the Canadian consulate in the country of death to make sure the paperwork is in order. 

    How can I transport remains back to Canada? 

    Bringing a person's body back to Canada can be complicated. You will need to work with the funeral home, the deceased person’s representative, and the Canadian consulate or embassy in the country where the person died. They will guide you through the process, including getting the right documents, arranging transportation, and following any special rules and procedures.

    Can I bring ashes or cremated remains on a plane internationally?

    If a loved one dies abroad, you may be wondering if their ashes or cremated remains can be brought on a plane and returned to Canada. This will depend on a number of factors, so here are a few steps you can follow to determine if this is possible: 

    1. Check with the airline you plan to fly with, as not all airlines will allow for you to transport cremated remains, or they might require that you transport them with their cargo service. Major airlines may have this information available on their website. 
    2. Have the funeral home provide you with the proper container to transport the remains. You may need to check with airport authorities to see what type of container or vessel is most appropriate to travel with. 
    3. Contact the airline before you fly to make sure you have all of the proper documentation, including death and cremation certificates. 
    4. Visit the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority’s Cremated Remains page for more information. 

    How much does it cost when a Canadian dies abroad? 

    The cost of a death in another country can vary, and it can also depend on the complexity of their situation. It depends on things like where it happened, the local laws and regulations, how the body is brought back, and the funeral services. There might be costs for bringing the body home, using the funeral home's services, getting paperwork done, and paying legal fees. Some of these costs might be covered by the deceased’s insurance, but it's important to read the policy carefully to know what is included. 

    Dying in another country can be overwhelming for travellers and their families. By understanding what to do, what documents are needed, how to bring the person's body back home, and how much it might cost, you can be better prepared for these stressful and challenging events. 

    Even though it's not an easy topic to think about, being prepared and informed can make things a little easier, so you can focus on remembering and honouring your loved one.

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