When your family member has died abroad
If a Finnish citizen dies abroad, the death is declared by a doctor or the police according to local practices. The cause of death is investigated and the deceased is handled in a manner compliant with the country's legislation. An authority or the hospital will notify the nearest Finnish embassy or consulate of the death. From there, the information will be sent to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs who will pass on the information to the police department of the deceased person's home town in Finland. The embassy, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs or the police in Finland will notify the next of kin of the death.
When a person dies abroad, their family will usually take care of their repatriation or burial in the country where they died.
Finland's Ministry for Foreign Affairs or the Finnish embassy or consulate will provide instructions on how to arrange for a cremation, a burial or transport. If the deceased person is transported to Finland, the transport will usually be organised by a funeral home assigned by the immediate family.
The Lutheran Church's expatriate and tourist ministers are available to help family and authorities make arrangements and handle practical matters.
If your family member passes away abroad, you must notify the Digital and Population Data Services Agency of the death. If the deceased person was a Finnish citizen, you can also submit the notification to the nearest Finnish diplomatic mission. In connection with this notification, the family must provide the original death certificate issued by a foreign authority. It is also recommended to include a copy of the deceased person’s passport.
You may need to have the documents legalised and/or translated. The legalisation of a document means establishing the powers of the issuing authority. Legalisation can be done in two different ways, depending on the country providing the document. Instructions on the legalisation and translation of foreign documents on the Digital and Population Data Services Agency website.
If the deceased person lived in Sweden and was a Finnish citizen, the Swedish authorities will forward information on the death to the Finnish Population Information System. Citizens of both Finland and Sweden are considered to be only Swedish citizens in Sweden, and information concerning any such person is not forwarded. A notification must therefore be submitted for persons with dual citizenship.
A deceased person can be transported to Finland for burial in a coffin or an urn.
If a deceased person is brought to Finland in a coffin, their family must submit the documents related to the investigation of the cause of death conducted abroad to the police of the last municipality of residence of the deceased person. These documents usually come with the coffin. If the deceased person does not have a municipality of residence in Finland, the documents should be sent to the police of the municipality where the person will be buried. The police and the forensic pathologist of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare decide whether the investigation of the cause of death conducted abroad is sufficient or whether it is necessary to supplement it in Finland.
If the investigation of the cause of death conducted abroad is found to be sufficient, the family submit death notice to the Digital and Population Data Services Agency, who will register the death in the Population Information System.
If an investigation of the cause of death has to be carried out for the deceased person in Finland, the death notice to the Population Information System is provided by a physician of a health care operational unit or by a forensic pathologist of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. In this case, the family does not need to report the death to the Digital and Population Data Services Agency.
If a deceased person is cremated in the country where they died, the urn can be transported to Finland for burial. The urn may be sent to Finland by air cargo or mail, depending on the rules of each country. A family member can also travel to pick up the urn personally and bring it to Finland. Along with the urn, the family member will receive a death certificate drawn up in the country where the person died.
In all cases, it is recommended for the family member or the party responsible for the arrangements to contact the police of the last home municipality of the deceased person or the police of the municipality where the deceased person is to be buried.
If the deceased person had an up-to-date insurance policy that covers repatriation, the family must negotiate transport costs with the insurance company. In other instances, the estate and family will be responsible for the costs. The costs may be fairly high.
If the deceased is transported to Finland by request of Finnish authorities, the transport costs will be paid from public funds.
If a deceased person's family members do not ensure that the deceased person is buried, cremated or transported to Finland, the Finnish diplomatic mission will contact local authorities. In such a case, the deceased person is buried or cremated in accordance with local practice.
If the deceased person does not have insurance and the relatives do not pay the funeral or repatriation costs, the deceased person is buried by the local authorities in a grave site for unclaimed people.
If a foreign citizen dies in Finland, the cause of death is investigated and the deceased person is processed in accordance with Finnish legislation.
Family members should contact the diplomatic mission of the deceased person's home country to receive advice on matters related to death, such as arranging transport, burial and cremation.
If the deceased person has a Finnish personal identity code, the information on their death is registered in the Finnish Population Information System.
An authority or the hospital will also report the death to the diplomatic mission of the deceased person's home country. The diplomatic mission of the deceased person's home country or the Ministry for Foreign Affairs will forward the information to the family of the deceased person.
It is recommended for the family to report the death to the authorities in the home country of the deceased person so that the death can be registered in said country.
The deceased person may be transported out of Finland once the cause of death has been determined and a funeral permit has been issued. The deceased person can be transported abroad in a coffin or cremated in Finland for the ash to be transported abroad. Transport in a coffin requires a body transport permit. Usually a funeral home takes care of requesting the permit.
A death certificate is issued to be transported with the deceased person. If the investigation of the cause of death is ongoing, the death certificate and the statement on the cause of death will be submitted once all the investigations related to the cause of death have been carried out. If a forensic investigation of the cause of death has been made for the deceased person, the police will send copies of the documents to the diplomatic mission of the deceased person's home country. The cause of death documents are delivered in Finnish or Swedish.