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Frequently Asked Questions

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When Someone Dies Overseas

You may wish to bring the body back to Australia for burial or cremation. However, transport and health restrictions apply. The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) will need to be notified prior to transporting the deceased.

You will need to obtain an overseas death certificate and complete importation papers. For health reasons, the body will need to be embalmed overseas and returned to Australia in an outer coffin or crate suitably prepared for transportation. You may also need to check that the container meets any specific airline requirements. Non- embalmed bodies will only be accepted in exceptional circumstances.

The situation is similar when transporting a body overseas for burial or cremation. Particular care must be taken with the documentation; certain documents must be lodged here and others must accompany the body. Health regulations concerning the transport container will vary from country to country, but are generally as strict as those associated with bringing a person’s body back to Australia.

Can I arrange transportation myself?

It is possible to do some of the transportation organising yourself, but it requires extensive planning. Given the time constraints involved, it is more common for arrangements to be carried out by funeral directors liaising between Australia and the overseas country involved.

The transportation of cremated remains is generally the easiest and least expensive option. However, the container used to hold the ashes must be free from contaminants such as soil. If the container is made from wood, it must be also declared upon arrival so AQIS can inspect the container.

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Peter Erceg is the Owner and Founder of eziFunerals. He has had a long history within the funeral industry, and is a published author of ‘What Kind Of Funeral: A self help guide to planning a meaningful funeral’. Prior to eziFunerals, Peter worked in the public sector and health industry for more than 30 years. The views and opinions expressed on posts are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of eziFunerals and members.

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