In this simply guideline we explain how to report the death, how to deal with the funeral parlour, how to obtain the death certificate and how to repatriate the body or ashes.
(This article was originally published in 2016 but has been updated to include changes introduced by the RD.463/2020 due to the Coronavirus outbreak)
At the end of this article you will know what to do , who to call and what to expect if you find yourself dealing with a death in Spain.
What to do if someone dies in Spain ?
- Call the police . Simply call the emergency number 092 and they will send the police .
- Contact a doctor (if you have not called one do not worry as the police will call one for you when they arrive ) who will certify the cause of death and issue a certificate of death
- A funeral parlour will be contacted (by the doctor, the police or yourself ) to remove the body (identification must accompany the body in order for it to be moved). If you hafe a funeral plan, call the company.
- The funeral parlour will take over and help you from this moment on.
- The above is what needs to be done if the person did not decease in a hospital. If he/she deceased in a hospital they will take care of all this and you will then only have to deal with the funeral parlour who will normally take care of everything. If you do not inform of a particular funeral parlour then the police, doctor or hospital will simply call a local one.
When would an autopsy be necessary in Spain?
According to Spanish law, an autopsy is mandatory (1) in all cases of accidental death (2) in cases in which the deceased was not attended by a physician at the time of death, and (3) whenever ordered by a Judge.
Registration of a Death
The certificate of death must be taken to the Civil Registry to formally register the death. The registration includes the date, time and location of the death
How long does it take to register the death?
The death needs to be registered within 24 hours usually at the local civil register office which is often situated at the local town hall our courts but not always.
Who registers the death in Spain?
Do not worry. Usually the funeral parlour will take care of this , but anyone with knowledge of the death is eligible to make the registration.
Once the death registration has been completed, under normal circumstances a burial licence will be issued and the burial or cremation can take place.
The funeral parlour will take care of the burial or cremation and will help organising of the funeral. (please read about the situation during the coronavirus)
Funerals in Spain
Burial or cremation should take place within 24 to 48 hours (although this can be extended on arrangement with the morgue).
If the deceased has made specific arrangements for a religious service, burial or cremation their wishes should be followed. Burial or internment are most common in Spain. If the deceased or next of kin request a cremation this must be made known to the doctor in charge of certifying the death as it will be noted on the certificate.
Burial/Interment in Spain.
Does burial happen faster than in the U.K ? Yes.
• Embalmed bodies must be buried within 96 hours (Article 15)
• When temporary preservation method is used, bodies must be buried within 72 hour.
• Unembalmed bodies must be buried within 48 hours, but not before the lapse of 24 hours.
• The remains of a person who has died as the result of a contagious disease must be buried immediately .
Can you request cremation in Spain? Yes you can.
The cremation procedures and method are regulated by existing Public Health Service and Municipal regulations which specifically state that written authorisation for cremation, signed by the decedent in life, or a statement from the next of kin indicating that the deceased in life made known his/her desire to be cremated, be presented to the local authorities before cremation may be authorised. This requirement obviously poses some problems in cases of death when the next of kin is not in Spain.If the required statement is not available, local burial or embalming will have to take place within 48 hours after death. In Spain if you wish to be cremated it is convenient to make this statement in your Spanish will.
There are many facilities for cremation in Spain and all the funeral parlours are able to have it organised.
Where do I get a death certificate in Spain ?
Normally the death certificates will be handed to you by the funeral parlour five or six days after the death. They will provide you with two or three Spanish ones and a couple of intonations ones. For mor information about the times of death certificates in Spain please click. If the funeral parlour does not provide one, you can obtain them from the civil register yourself. (they are fee of charge) .
After you receive copies (they are classed as originals as they are copies with the stamp from the civil register ) of the death certificate you will need to send one or two to the lawyer that is going to handle probate in Spain for you. You will receive 3 Spanish one and 3 international ones. Send him the Spanish ones and keep the international ones for the U.K. or other country.
Are there more than one kind of death certificates in Spain ?
Yes, The funeral parlour will issue two types. Spanish ones and Internationals ones.
The death certificates I have been handed doe not contain the cause of death. How do I obtain the cause of death?
Request it at the hospital.
Please click for more information on Spanish death certificates.
Who pays the funeral parlour in Spain ? There are 3 possibilities.
- Payment by the family .
- No payment if the deceased person had a funeral plan and you are dealing directly with the insurance company.
- The estate can pay using funds in the account of the deceased. For this contact the solicitor that is going to deal with probate so the he/she can explain to the funeral parlour.
How much does a funeral cost in Spain?
The total cost to expect for the full service explained above would be between 2500 and 4500 euro.
Does the family have to pay the funeral parlour now?
If the deceased had funds in his/her account and there is a will with a local solicitor he can usually help organise payment from the estates account directly to the funeral parlour. Put the solicitor and the funeral parlour in contact.
Repatriation of the body:
If the deceased or their next of kin requests that the body be repatriated to the country of origin this must also be communicated to the attending doctor when the death certificate is being completed.
If a body is to be repatriated the passport should be kept with the body, it cannot cross international borders or fly without it.
Repatriating may be covered by travel or life insurance. If this is the case, the insurance company will make arrangements.
A body can be cremated in Spain and the ashes flown to the home country.
Ashes must be accompanied by a certificate.
There are really only 3 things you need to know:
- If the person dies in hospital they will call a funeral parlour themselves and the funeral parlour will usually take over from that moment. If the deceased had a funeral plan or you wish to use a specific funeral parlour call them directly and inform the hospital.(if the deceased had a funeral plant make sure you contact them. )
- If the person deceased at home, call the police on 092 and they will take care of everything. If you know of a particular doctor and funeral parlour you can call them yourselves but otherwise the police will do this.( If the deceased had a funeral plant make sure you contact them. )
- Contact your solicitor in Spain to deal with probate and put him in contact with the funeral parlour .
Useful contact details:
Lawyer to handle the inheritance procedure: Michael Davies/Abogado. We have been handling inheritance procedures for ex-pats all over Spain since 1994. email@example.com
Emergencies: 092 This is the number to call if somebody dies outside a hospital.
Mojacar: Funeraria Maria Luisa Perez en Mojacar: tel. 950478102 and mobile 630949982
Marbella: Costa funeral services tel: 951315020
Almeria city: Grupo ASV
Spanish Inheritance lawyers-Michael Davies from Davies Abogados Solicitors & Barristers. 25 years experience handling inheritance all over Spain.
List of Consulates:
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