Death of a U.S. Citizen

The American Citizen Services unit of the Consular Section can assist family and friends in the event of the death of a U.S. citizen in Croatia.  We can act as liaison in arranging the disposition of remains and help with forwarding personal effects.  The family or legal representative must pay all funeral home charges, shipping costs for the remains and personal effects (if applicable).  We will work with any funeral home selected by the family to ensure proper documentation for shipment of remains to the United States. We also maintain a list of a few funeral homes that have experience with international shipment of remains.

Even if no assistance is needed in making funeral arrangements, the death of a U.S. citizen, whether resident or tourist in Croatia, should be reported to the so that a Report of Death of a U.S. Citizen Abroad can be issued.  This document is necessary to settle legal and estate matters in the United States.

Additional information regarding death of a U.S. citizen abroad is available at the Department of State website.

The Report of Death of a U.S. Citizen Abroad is a document that is necessary to settle legal and estate matters in the United States.  The American Citizen Services Section of the U.S. Embassy in Zagreb can issue up to 20 copies of the document to the next-of-kin.  Please email ZagrebACS@state.gov to start the process.

Documents required to obtain a Consular report of Death of a U.S. Citizen Abroad are:

  • The most recent U.S. passport, or other proof of citizenship; e.g. a naturalization certificate, a U.S. birth certificate, a consular Report of Birth;
  • The official death certificate issued by the local authorities;
  • Medical certificate showing date and hour and cause of death, signed by the local physician.

The following information will be required:

  • The Social Security Number;
  • The place of death: e.g. name and address of the hospital;
  • The name and address of the next of kin;
  • The name and address of the person who has custody of the belongings of the deceased;
  • The disposal of the remains (in case of burial: name of cemetery);
  • The latest local address;
  • The latest address in the United States.

If a death occurs in a Croatian hospital, the hospital automatically forwards the doctor’s report on the cause of death (Potvrda o smrti – Izvješće o uzroku smrti) to the Croatian Registry Office of Vital Statistics (Matični ured). If death does not occur in a hospital, a coroner’s certificate (Dozvola za sahranu umrle osobe) is delivered to the Matični ured in the district in which the death occurred.

If the cause of death cannot be readily determined or appears to be accidental, the coroner has the authority to order an autopsy.  Under Croatian law, an autopsy may be performed without the consent of the next-of-kin of the deceased.  Autopsies may take four (or more) working days.  Depending on the results of the autopsy, the case may then be forwarded to legal authorities who might decide to investigate further before a coroner’s certificate is issued.

Note: The next-of-kin or an authorized person should contact the hospital and a doctor immediately if there are specific reasons for an autopsy not to be performed.

If the next-of-kin or legal representative of the deceased decides to transport the remains for burial in the United States, a Croatian funeral home must prepare the remains for air transportation. (Please note that preparation of the remains for air transport does not necessarily mean that the remains will be suitable for viewing by relatives upon arrival in the United States.)

Then, the funeral home presents the required documentation to the Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy in Zagreb, which prepares the Consular Mortuary Certificate and the Report of Death of a U.S. Citizen Abroad. These documents along with the cancelled passport of the deceased are returned to the funeral home representative, who delivers the remains and paperwork to the airport for transportation to the United States.

Documents required for shipment of remains (generally gathered by the funeral home):

  • The official Croatian death certificate issued by the local authorities
  • Consular Mortuary Certificate
  • Transit Permit from the Croatian Ministry of Health/Sprovodnica za prijenos umrle osobe
  • Transit Permit from Croatian Police/Suglasnost za prijenos posmrtnih ostataka
  • Certificate of Embalming from the Institute of Thanatopraxy
  • Burial Permit issued by the local authorities
  • Medical certificate showing cause of death, signed by attending physician
  • Affidavit by undertaker
  • When transporting cremated remains, the ashes have to be transported in a sealed urn and have to be accompanied by a certificate, issued by the crematorium, stating the name of the deceased and that the urn contains nothing but human ashes.

Most Croatian funeral homes require payment in advance. Money can be transferred from the U.S. using private companies, such as Western Union, or via the Department of State’s OCS/TRUST system or directly transferred to a local funeral home bank account in Croatia. For more information on transferring money, visit our page Sending Money to a U.S. Citizen Overseas

When a U.S. citizen dies in Croatia, the next-of-kin or legal representative of the deceased must choose between three options:

  • local internment/burial ($3,500 or more, depending upon cemetery location)
  • cremation ($2,000 or more, depending upon services and location)
  • shipment of the remains or urn with ashes to the United States ($3,500 to approximately $8,500, depending on destination).

If the next-of-kin or legal representative of the deceased decides to transport the remains for burial in the U.S., a Croatian funeral home or undertaker must prepare the remains as required for air transportation.

List of funeral homes in Croatia (PDF 448 KB) (Last update May 2015)