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What happens when an expat dies in Spain?

What happens when an expat dies in Spain?

If you’re planning on relocating to Spain to spend your retirement lounging around in the sunshine, then you’ve got much to consider.

From getting a residency permit and NIE (Número de Identidad de Extranjero) to registering on the electoral roll, there are lots of things you need to consider.

Including familiarising yourself with the Spanish legal system and what will happen if you or a loved one passes away as an expat in Spain.

We understand that the thought alone is daunting enough, but it’s important you and your loved ones know where to start when dealing with death abroad.

Here, our experts at Fluent Finance Abroad will walk you through the steps you need to take if your loved one passes away in Spain and answer some of the most-asked questions about what happens when an expat dies in Spain.

1.    Notify the authorities.

As soon as you discover that your loved one has passed away in Spain, you should get in touch with emergency services by dialling 112 or 092.

Then, you need to contact a doctor, who will be able to confirm the cause of death and issue a death certificate.

Your chosen funeral home will then be contacted, and they’ll come to transport the body to their facility. If your loved one has an expat funeral plan in place, their funeral will be arranged in accordance with their wishes, otherwise will arrange for a funeral director to collect the body.

If your loved one passes away in the hospital, the doctors and nurses will inform the authorities and contact your chosen funeral home or a company from their roster.

2.    Register the death.

To register a death, you must take your loved ones’ death certificate, as well as yours and their identification, to the local civil registry – which can usually be found at the local town hall.

Typically, the registration includes the date and time of, and the location in which the death occurred, and should be completed within 24 hours of the death.

Anyone with knowledge of these details will be able to register the death, meaning funeral homes can take care of this for you, or you can do it yourself if this is something you’d prefer.

3.    Burial, cremation, or repatriation of your loved one

If the deceased has an expat funeral plan in place, this should specify whether they wish to be buried, cremated, or repatriated to their home country.

If your loved one requested to be buried, then you must obtain a burial licence (your chosen funeral home will take care of this for you), and it’s customary for bodies to be buried within 24-48 hours after death, but this period differs and can be extended to allow friends and family of the expat more time to make travel arrangements.

Funerals in Spain take place much sooner after death than they do in the UK and other countries, and the process is much quicker. Some general guidelines include:

  • Embalmed bodies must be buried within 96 hours.
  • Temporarily preserved bodies must be buried within 72 hours.
  • Bodies which have not been embalmed must be buried within 48 hours, but not before the 24-hour mark.
  • Immediate burial is necessary in the case of contagious disease.

Cremation is also possible, if this is something your loved one requested.

Written confirmation, signed in advance by the deceased before they pass away, is to be issued by the next of kin to the authorities before the cremation goes ahead.

If the deceased, or their next of kin, requests repatriation of the body to their home country, you must let the doctor know whilst their death certificate is being completed.

If you have travel insurance, this may be covered in your policy, in which case, your insurance company can make all the necessary arrangements and provide guidance throughout the process.

Your loved one’s passport and death certificate must stay with them until you arrive back in your home country and you’re ready to start making alternative arrangements.

Need more expert guidance?

Losing a loved one can be incredibly distressing at the best of times. And knowing the necessary steps to take if they pass away as an expat in Spain will help the process run smoothly and allow you to work through your grief without the additional stress of making funeral arrangements.

To find out more about what to do if an expat dies in Spain, or to discuss Spanish expat funeral plans, get in touch with our friendly team here at Fluent Finance Abroad. We’re always here and will do everything we can to help put your mind at ease during such a difficult time.

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