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Death of a U.S. Citizen

How to Report the Death of an American Citizen Abroad

When an American dies abroad, the U.S. Embassy can assist with locating and informing the next of kin as well as providing guidance to grieving family members on how to make arrangements for local burial or return of the remains to the U.S. The disposition of remains depends on the local laws, customs, and facilities, which can be vastly different from those in the U.S. Unfortunately the Embassy has no funds to assist in the payment of burial costs or the cost of returning remains to the U.S.

In all cases, the death of an American citizen, whether resident or tourist in Lebanon, should be reported to the Embassy’s Consular Section in Beirut. Upon completion of all formalities, the “Report of the Death of an American Citizen,” based upon the local death certificate, is prepared by the Consular Section and forwarded to the next of kin or legal representative for use in U.S. courts to settle estate matters. This document is an administrative report that provides essential facts concerning the death of the U.S. citizen and the custody of the personal estate of the deceased. There is no charge for preparing the death report and sending up to 20 copies each to the legal representative and the closest known relative(s). Additional copies may be obtained from U.S. Passport Services, Correspondence Branch, Department of State, 1111 19th Street, NW, Suite 510, Washington D.C. 20522-1705, for a fee of $10.00 per copy.

In order to start the process of receiving a report of death, please come to the Embassy between 8:00AM and 11:00 AM, Monday to Friday with the following documents:

  1. Original local death certificate with English translation plus one photocopy
  2. Notification of death issued by hospital or doctor with English translation
  3. The most recent U.S. passport of the deceased
  4. Social Security number of the deceased (Social Security Card if available)
  5. The full address in the U.S. and/or country of residence of the deceased
  6. Full name, address and telephone number of next of kin

If you have questions or need additional information you can reach the American Citizen Services Section via phone at 961-4-542600 (ask for American Citizen Services Section) or via email at BeirutACS@state.gov

The following general information is provided to assist families in making initial decisions.  Indicated costs are estimates, based on deaths with no unusual circumstances, and should be considered as guides only.  These estimates also relate only to costs incurred in Lebanon (inclusive of shipping).  U.S. funeral home costs would be handled separately.

A.  Maximum Period Before Interment:

Lebanese Law does not place a time limit on burial.  When embalming has been performed, burial may be delayed for any length of time. However, since Beirut has no mortuaries, the remains are stored in hospital morgues, which charge fees varying between $30 and $100 per day.

B.  Embalming:

While there is no time limit after which embalming is obligatory, it is usually carried out immediately after death.  Embalming varies between the ordinary cooling of the body, (primitive embalming) which can be carried out by nurses, doctors or undertakers; and the professional embalming required before the export of the remains.  This must be performed by a qualified mortician at the hospital, who then issues the appropriate certification.  The Embassy can provide names of qualified Lebanese morticians who can assist with the process of preparing documentation required for the export of remains. (See paragraph E.).

C.  Cremation:

In general, Lebanese law prohibits cremation.  However, facilities are available at the American University Hospital, which performs cremation only upon written request signed by all of the deceased’s immediate family members.

D.  Caskets and Containers:

When the remains of a deceased person are to be transported out of Lebanon, the remains are placed in a zinc-lined casket which is hermetically sealed by soldering.  The casket is enclosed in a hardwood coffin.  Before shipment by air, the wooden coffin is placed in a wooden shipping case.  All required containers are readily available locally.>

E.  Export of Remains:

Local requirements for export of human remains are as follows:

  1. Embalming of the remains
  2. Enclosure of the remains as described in paragraph D
  3. Transportation authorization from the Ministry of Health and the Sureté General
  4. Mortuary certificate issued by the U.S. Embassy
  5. Medical report of death with translation
  6. Death certificate from local civil authorities with translation
  7. Certificate for embalming (medical)

F. Costs:

All costs may be paid either in local currency at the current rate of exchange or in U.S. Dollars

Costs vary according to case and service provider. Please enquire with the below Funeral homes for fees.

Local interment includes the following:

  • Simple coffin (mahogany or oak color) with the deceased’s name
  • Local death certificate and documentation required for local interment
  • If applicable, charges of a Medical Examiner for providing a death report if the death was due to an accident
  • Cost of translation
  • Excavation of gravesite
  • Labor fees and transportation of remains by vehicle to the cemetery
  • Funeral home fees including funeral car                             

Local interment with cremation includes the following:

  • Cremation of remains at the American University Hospital
  • Medical Examiner’s
  • Local death certificate and documentation required for local interment
  • Fees for providing documentation for cremation
  • Translation & Legalization
  • Transportation fees of remains to the morgue of A.U.H.
  • Fees of Public Cemetery for one renewable year 
  • Fees of morgue per day to hold remains pending cremation
  • Excavation of gravesite
  • Container for ashes
  • Funeral home fees

Shipment of ashes to the U.S. includes the following:

  • Fees of cremation at the American University Hospital of Beirut
  • Fees of morgue per day to hold remains pending cremation
  • Medical Examiner’s fees
  • Local death certificate and permission for local interment
  • Fees for providing documentation for cremation
  • Transportation of remains to the morgue of A.U.H.
  • Fees for obtaining a Transportation Permit for export outside Lebanon
  • Translation & Legalization
  • Container for ashes
  • Shipment of ashes from Beirut to the U.S.A.
  • Funeral home fees

Shipment of remains to the U.S. includes the following:

  • Casket and Coffin (special for travel per regulations cited above)
  • Embalming
  • Placement of remains in a morgue till repatriation (per day)
  • Funeral home fees including transportation of remains to the   airport
  • Medical Examiner’s fees
  • Export documents preparation
  • Local death certificate
  • Translation & Legalization
  • Airfreight to U.S.A. (Average weight of casket and container 200 Kilos)

G.  Exhumation and shipment:  Lebanese law prohibits exhumation, unless it is required for the investigation of a murder, or for transporting the remains of foreigners out of Lebanon.  In both cases special permission from the Prosecutor General (Ministry of Justice) is required.

E.  Donation of remains: In cases where the deceased’s family or next of kin lack the necessary funds for the burial of remains or based on NOK’s will, remains may be donated to the Balamand University for academic research provided that the body is appropriate for such purpose.

Professor Jihad Hawi (03-601-558), or 06-930250, ext. 3811 is the point of contact for facilitating the donation of remains.

Funeral Directors

Joseph Kanaan Establishment
Phone: +961 (0) 3-213821
Fax:      +961 (0) 1-323281
Agolian Building
Karem AlZeitoun
Achrafieh, Beirut

Harb Funeral Home
Salim Salam St. Mousaitbeh
Beirut, Lebanon
Mobile: 961-3-507550
Mobile: 961-70-507550
Fax: 961-1-316327
E Mail: samerharb605@gmail.com

Garo/Dikran Establishment
Bourj Hammoud, Trad st.
Mobile: 961-3-892896
Off: 961-1-254528
Fax: 961-1-243191
E Mail: garogarabedian@hotmail.com


Waiver of Responsibility: The American Embassy in Beirut assumes no responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms whose names appear in the following list.  Nevertheless, care and selectivity have been exercised in its preparation.  The names are listed alphabetically, and the order in which they appear has no other significance.