The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy can be of valuable service and assistance when a loved one dies in the Dominican Republic. We hope that the following information will aid the family members of deceased U.S. citizens in understanding how the process works and what we can do to help at this difficult and emotional time:
General: When the Consular Section learns that a U.S. citizen has died in the Dominican Republic and no family members are present, the U.S. Citizens Services (ACS) Unit immediately attempts to notify the family. (If family members are present and learn of the death before we do, they should contact us as soon as possible at (809) 567-7775). Whether or not family members are present, the Consular Section can assist in making arrangements for the disposition of the remains, based on the wishes of the next-of-kin. It is important to remember, however, that no U.S. government funds are available to cover or defray any of the expenses involved. We also issue a Consular Report of Death Abroad, which is an official document that can be used to settle all legal matters relating to the deceased’s estate and insurance. The completed Report of Death is official and acceptable in any U.S. jurisdiction.
If the deceased was receiving Federal Benefits from the U.S. Government such as Social Security or Veterans’ benefits, the next-of-kin should also be in touch with the Federal Benefits Unit (FBU) at the number provided above. More information about completing Social Security formalities is available at: http://www.ssa.gov/.
One of the most important and first decisions the family needs to make is whether to bury their loved one locally or have the remains returned to the United States. If the family opts for local burial, the funeral home here will arrange the service and burial according to the family’s wishes. If, on the other hand, the family prefers to send the remains to the United States, they should be aware that costs for preparing and returning a body to the U.S. may be high and must be paid by the family. Dominican law requires that autopsies be performed prior to shipment-of-remains of foreigners.
Embalming: Elaborate embalming in compliance with U.S. standards is available in the Dominican Republic, but is performed by only a small number of certified morticians in Santo Domingo.
Cremation: Cremation has been an option in the Dominican Republic since 2003 and is offered by select funeral homes.
Exportation of Remains: Returning a body to the U.S. is a complex and expensive process. The family should provide the local funeral home with the name and telephone number of the funeral home in the U.S. where the remains are to be received, whereupon the two funeral homes will coordinate the rest of the process. All the documents and permits required to ship bodies are usually obtained and prepared by the local funeral home. The family of the deceased is responsible for all costs associated with this process.
Exhumation and Shipment: Under Dominican law, exhumation of interred remains is permitted after at least five years have passed. However, the Attorney General may, under certain circumstances, grant exemptions to this restriction. Exhumed remains may be exported to the U.S. or other countries following the same procedures outlined above.
The below estimates were provided by the funeral homes in May 2023, and are subject to change without notice. Clients should be aware that extra charges may apply, such as documentation fees, and that transportation charges often vary according to the weight of the deceased. Family should contact the funeral home for further information prior to making their final selection.
Required Documents: In order to prepare a Consular Report of Death Abroad, the Consular Section needs the original local death certificate, decedent’s American passport, copy of next-of-kin’s identification, copy of marriage certificate (when applicable), and next-of-kin needs to fill out a DS-2060 and an eCRODA form provided by the funeral home or by our office.
By law, local burial must take place within 48 hours after the death. Arranging shipment of remains to the U.S. generally takes approximately 10 business days, though several factors can contribute to delays in shipment. The need for an autopsy can delay issuance of the Report of Death by a month or more; however, this will not usually delay shipment of the remains. After receiving all required documents, the next-of-kin will be sent an email which includes an electronic Consular Report of Death Abroad.
If the deceased was a U.S. military veteran and the next of kin has chosen to bury or keep their remains in the Dominican Republic (rather than transporting the remains to the United States), the next of kin may request a burial flag from the U.S. Embassy.
The application form and its requirements are available at: https://www.va.gov/find-forms/about-form-27-2008/.
Once you complete the form, collect the necessary documentation, and confirm your loved one’s eligibility, please access our ACS Navigator U.S. Embassy Santo Domingo (google.com) for the instructions to contact us.