Death of a U.S. Citizen

The difficulty of losing a loved one may be compounded by logistical and communication problems when the loss occurs overseas. The U.S. Embassy in Montevideo can provide assistance in some key areas following the passing of a U.S. citizen.

However, it is critical that families contract a funeral home to help them carry out funeral arrangements and/or repatriation of remains to the U.S.  The Embassy maintains a list of funeral homes operating within Uruguay.  Funeral services and preparations are carried out in accordance with the laws and facilities available in Uruguay and, in some cases, services may be different from those expected in the U.S.

Even though the Embassy staff is unable to act as agents for American citizens making funeral arrangements, Embassy staff can:

  • Help locate and notify the next-of-kin of a U.S. citizen’s passing.
  • Inform families about Uruguayan legal requirements for claiming a loved one’s remains.
  • Issue a Consular Report of Death Abroad for a deceased U.S. citizen. This document is based on the Uruguayan death certificate and may be used in most legal proceedings in the United States as proof of death overseas.
  • Issue a Consular Mortuary Certificate. The Consular Mortuary Certificate is one of the documents that the funeral home will need in order to transport the decedent’s remains to the United States for burial. A representative from the funeral home will work with the Embassy to obtain this document.
  • Assist in shipping the decedent’s personal effects to the United States.
  • Act as estate executor in the absence of a family member or legal counsel.

The next-of-kin is responsible for all costs relating to the funeral home and/or shipment of remains or personal effects.

  • The next-of-kin is also responsible for carrying out the funeral arrangements with substantial assistance from the contracted funeral home.
  • Please be aware that in order to confirm the relationship between the decedent and the person purporting to be the next-of-kin, Uruguayan authorities will often request identification documents for both the decedent and the next-of-kin, such as passports, birth certificates, and/or marriage certificates.
  • Costs for funeral services and repatriation can vary greatly depending on the services chosen.  Please see below for estimated costs based on recent services from Uruguayan funeral homes.

The following information is provided to assist families with their initial decisions following the death of a loved one:

In cases of natural passing, a licensed physician who cared for the decedent prior to will usually prepare the death report. The report of death will be filed with the Uruguayan Civil Registry (Registro Civil) to issue the official Uruguayan death certificate (Partida de Defuncion).

However, in cases of accidental, violent or undetermined cause of death, Uruguayan coroner authorities will attempt to determine the cause of death. The Coroner will issue the Report of Death for the Civil Registry.

It should be noted that the autopsy report is not a public document that is routinely provided to the next of kin of deceased foreigners, or to the Embassy.

An autopsy is mandatory in almost all non-natural death cases. Only the prosecutor handling the case may waive this requirement.

The medical authorities may retain remains for up to a year to allow for identification and for evidence in criminal cases. Please be aware that Uruguayan law requires identification based on visual identification, fingerprints, dental records, or DNA.

Cremation is permitted by local law and there are several crematoria in Montevideo. A written expression of a desire to be cremated is required. However, in lieu of written expression, the next-of-kin can testify to the specific wish of the deceased.

Embalming is not common practice in Uruguay. Undertakers do conserve the remains in accordance with international sanitary regulations.

Caskets and urns are available locally. They are prepared according to international regulations and meet the requirements for shipment out of the country.

Some Uruguayan funeral homes are more experienced than others with international shipment of remains. If the family is considering exportation of remains, the next of kin should discuss this issue when questioning potential funeral homes.

It’s highly advisable to hire a US-based funeral home to receive, transport and review the remains upon arrival in the U.S.

The following documents are required to export human remains (prepared or cremated):

  • Original Uruguayan Death Certificate;
  • Authorization from Health Department (Guia from the Intendencia Municipal de Montevideo);
  • Affidavit of person who witnessed preparation of remains or ashes for exportation;
  • Mortuary Certificate (issued by U.S. Embassy);
  • Information on travel arrangements

Regulations for the disposition of remains in Montevideo (in Spanish)

The Consular Section at the Embassy of the United States prepares a Report of Death of a U.S. Citizen Abroad for every U.S. citizen civilian who dies in Uruguay. This certificate is based on the Uruguayan death certificate and is valid for use in the United States. In addition, a consular mortuary certificate is prepared if the remains are to be shipped to the United States. Unless the legal next-of-kin is in Uruguay or another person is chosen as provisional custodian, a Consular Officer acts on behalf of the executor as the provisional custodian of the estate of any U.S. citizen.

Up to twenty copies of the Report of Death of a U.S. Citizen Abroad, issued at the time of death, will be provided to the next-of-kin free of charge. If in the future you find you need additional copies, they can be obtained for a fee.

Please visit the State Department’s Consular Report of Death page for instructions on how to request additional copies.

These are approximate costs for funeral services (in USD) reported by funeral homes surveyed in Uruguay:

  • Funeral service – USD$ 5,263.00 ($U 104.748) (generally includes wooden casket, chapel, vehicles, candles, wake, documents, etc.)
  • Cremation charges – USD$ 379.00 ($U 7.533) (The above cost is the municipal fee for cremation and is in addition to any funeral service charges)
  • Undertaker’s fees – USD$ 5,400.00 ($U 107.460) (generally includes conservation of remains, medical fees, container with zinc interior and wooden exterior, documents, taxes and delivery to airport)
  • Shipment of Ashes to the United States – USD$ 190.00 kg (Air freight to Miami, New York or Los Angeles, up to 34 kg)
  • Shipment of Remains to the United States – USD$ 1428.00 (Air freight in box to Miami, New York or Los Angeles up to 227 kg) – USD$ 1825.00 (Air freight in box to Miami, New York or Los Angeles up to 258 kg) 

The above quotation is subject to changes on fees, national taxes and departmental rates.

Forestier & Pose S.A.
Nueva Palmira 2199 esq. Cufré
Montevideo, Uruguay
Tel.: (598) 2409-6616
Fax: (598) 2402-0841

Rogelio Martinelli S.A.
Canelones 1450
Montevideo, Uruguay CP 11200
Tel.: (598) 2908-7721-25
Fax: (598) 2900-6369
martinelli@adinet.com.uy
Rogelio@martinelli.com.uy

Luis Moro e Hijos S.A.
Ariel 4737
Montevideo, Uruguay
Tel.: (598) 2359-3090
Fax: (598) 2355-9628
empmoro@adinet.com.uy

Road Hnos. Ltda.
Washington 264/68
Montevideo, Uruguay
Tel.: (598) 2915-4801 / (598) 2915-3565
Road1@adinet.com.uy

***Disclaimer*** The U.S. Embassy in Montevideo assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the professionals whose names appear on the following lists. Inclusion on this list is in no way an endorsement by the Department of State or the U.S. Embassy. Names are listed alphabetically, and the order in which they appear has no other significance. The information in the list on professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the service provider; the Embassy is not in a position to vouch for such information.