Repatriation of Mortal Remains:

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Repatriation of Mortal Remains:
When we travel we never think about accidents or even deaths occurring during our travels. When we lose a love one in another country we never know what to do or what procedures to follow to return them back home.

The Department, in collaboration with its Representatives abroad provides logistical assistance and advice to the next of kin next of kin in the event of the death of a South African citizen abroad.
With the help of the department, you will be assisted with obtaining a permit for importing mortal remains from the Department of health. They will assist you with getting into contact with a reputable undertakers and obtaining quotes for the transportation of the mortal remains and/or cremation and/or local burial, if so requested by the next of kin. The Department will also assist with providing information on local conditions and procedures affecting the deceased.
Importing of mortal remains to South Africa:
Strict laws and regulations govern the transportation of moral remains between countries. The requirements:
1.      Non-infectious mortal remains:
a.      The body must be embalmed. This must take place within 24 hours. Not all countries have embalming facilities;
b.      The body must be sealed in an airtight container and placed in a sturdy non-transparent coffin;
c.       The import permit must be obtained prior to transportation.
2.      Infectious mortal remains:
a)      The body must be placed in two a polythene bags;
b)      The body must then be sealed in an airtight container and placed in a sturdy non-transparent coffin;
c)      The coffin must stay sealed at all times;
d)      Along with a together with the death certificate a written statement from the medical practitioner stating that the body will not constitute a danger to public health and that the body is screened off according to regulation o R2438 of 30 October 1987, paragraphs 9 and 10 must accompany the body at all times;
e)      The import permit must be obtained prior to transportation. The South African Representative must provide the following documentation to the Department of Health before an import permit can be issued:
f)       A letter containing:
                                i.            name of the deceased,
                              ii.            date of death, country of death,
                            iii.            cause of death, place of burial,
                             iv.            Telephone and area code.
g)      Embalming certificate
h)      Letter from attending pathologist or medical doctor to state that the deceased did not suffer from an infectious disease at the time of death; OR
i)        If the deceased did suffer from an infectious disease, a letter from the medical practitioner indicating that the transportation will not constitute a danger to public health.
j)        All documents not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation.
Only when all the requirements are met will the Department of Health issue an Import Permit.
No permit is required to import ashes of a cremated body. The National Department of Health requires two working days to issue the importation permit. The following documents are essential for importing (transporting):
1.      A Death Certificate clearly stating the cause of death. A permit will not be issued if the cause of death is unknown. An autopsy report is required in the case of an infectious disease.
2.      ID document / Passport
3.      Embalming Certificate clearly stating in the case of:
·         Non-Infectious: That the remains were embalmed, sealed in an airtight container and placed in a sturdy non-transparent coffin.
·         Infectious: That the remains were embalmed, placed in two polythene bags, sealed in an airtight container and placed in a sturdy non-transparent coffin.
4.      If embalming cannot be done due to religious reasons, a statement of the alternative solution ensuring the safe transport of the remains needs to be included.
5.      A written statement from a medical practitioner that the remains will not constitute a danger to public health.
6.      A non-infectious disease certificate.
7.      Letter from the family member requesting importation.
8.      If the documents are not in English, a certified translation must be attached.
9.      A covering letter from the South African Representative that includes:
Ø  Name of deceased
Ø  Date of death
Ø  Cause of death
Ø  Country of death
Ø  Place of burial
Ø  Full contact numbers including dialing codes
Exporting of mortal remains to South Africa:
This task has been delegated to the Provincial Departments of Health. It also includes the exhumation and exportation of mortal remains.
During times of need it is important to have the support and guidance of close friends and family. There is always a helping hand out there in your time of need, just reach out and grab hold. For more information or a helping hand feel free to visit our website at we will gladly assist you.