Death of a U.S. Citizen

The Bureau of Consular Affairs will locate and inform the next-of-kin of the U.S. citizen’s death and provides information on how to make arrangements for local burial or return of the remains to the United States. The disposition of remains is subject to U.S. law, local laws of the country where the individual died, U.S. and foreign customs requirements, and the foreign country facilities, which are often vastly different from those in the United States.

The Bureau of Consular Affairs assists the next-of-kin to convey instructions to the appropriate offices within the foreign country, and provides information to the family on how to transmit the necessary private funds to cover the costs overseas. The Department of State has no funds to assist in the return of remains or ashes of U.S. citizens who die abroad. Upon issuance of a local death certificate, the nearest embassy or consulate may prepare a Consular Report of the Death of an American Abroad. Copies of that report are provided to the next-of-kin or legal representative and may be used in U.S. courts to settle estate matters.

A U.S. consular officer overseas has statutory responsibility for the personal estate of a U.S. citizen who dies abroad if the deceased has no legal representative or next-of-kin in the country where the death occurred, subject to local law.  In that situation the consular officer takes possession of personal effects, such as jewelry, personal documents and papers, and clothing.

The officer prepares an inventory of the personal effects and then carries out instructions from the legal representative or next-of-kin concerning the effects.  For more information on the Consular Report of the Death of an American Abroad, and other services that a consular officer can help you with when a loved one passes away overseas, see the links below.

Additional Resources

 

Funeral Homes in the Mexico City Consular District

The above link will direct you to funeral homes for U.S. Citizens in Mexico City and the surrounding area (states of Chiapas, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Estado de Mexico, Hidalgo, Michoacan, Morelos, Oaxaca, Puebla, Queretero, Tabasco, the city of Tampico, and the states of Tlaxcala, and Veracruz).

To find information about funeral services in other areas of Mexico, please see the drop down menus below. 

Death is a time of crisis for one’s family and friends no matter where it takes place. If death occurs overseas the experience can be even more traumatic, especially if the procedures involved are not clearly understood.

The Consulate can assist family and friends in the event of the death of an American Citizen in the State of Chihuahua. The Consulate maintains a list of funeral services in the state. The Consulate can also assist in arranging disposition of remains and forwarding of personal effects. Please read our latest Disposition of Remains Report.

The below instructions are for deaths in the State of Chihuahua (please see our Embassy and Consulates contact information page if the death occurred elsewhere in Mexico.)

There are several important things that the Next of Kin must do in conjunction with the Embassy or the Consulates. We stand ready to assist you with any of these steps at any point.

Reporting the death of an American Citizen

Any death of a U.S. citizen in the State of Chihuahua should be reported immediately to the police and to the Consulate.

Deaths of U.S. military members should also be reported to the appropriate branch of service.

The U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua’s American Citizen Services Unit can be reached through by dialing (from Mexico) 656-227-3411 (from the U.S.  011-52-656-227-3411). After hours, the duty officer is available at 044-656-215-0725 (from anywhere in Mexico other than Ciudad Juarez the 044 must be substituted with 045, and 011-52-1 if from the U.S.)

When reporting a death to us, if possible, please tell us the deceased person’s name, date and place of birth, passport number, date and place of death, cause of death, and the location of the remains. We also need the full name and phone number of the next of kin if available.

In cases where we learn of the death of an American in the State of Chihuahua area, we will as quickly as possible determine who is the Next of Kin of the deceased and contact that person by telephone immediately.

In some situations, however, it may not be possible to immediately determine who the Next of Kin is. In these cases, we will work with authorities from the State of Chihuahua, the Department of State’s Passport records and any other resources available to locate and contact the Next of Kin.

Communicating your relationship to the deceased

We seek to carry out the wishes of the Next of Kin. Generally, the Next of Kin is held to be the spouse, the adult children, the parent(s) or the siblings of the deceased (and it’s also determined in this order).

Our fax number is 656-227-3264. Our mailing address is American Citizen Services Section, American Consulate Ciudad Juarez, P.O. Box 10545, El Paso, TX 79995.

Decisions to be made by the Next of Kin

Article 348 of the Ley General de Salud (Health Law) states that the burial or cremation of a corpse can only be done with the authorization of the appropriate Civil Registry official, he will also require the Mexican Death Certificate, the burial or cremation should take place within 48 hours from the time of death, unless the appropriate authority approves otherwise. The scarcity of refrigerated storage facilities also dictates that the disposition of remains be completed as quickly as possible. The following paragraphs explain the options you have for making your decisions.

If the deceased was a retired member of the United States Armed Forces, please let us know so we can put you in touch with the appropriate service’s Office of Mortuary Affairs in the United States.

Burial flags are available from the Veteran’s Administration for most veterans who were honorably discharged. Contact the Department of Veterans Affairs website for details.

You have a couple of options regarding the disposition of your loved one’s remains. You may have the remains cremated or buried in Mexico, you may have the remains embalmed and shipped to another location, such as the United States for burial or cremation.

Cremation, Burial in Mexico

The cost for cremation or burial in Mexico can vary depending on the funeral service hired and the place of burial. Please note that Mexican law does not permit for the remains of a body that passed away from criminal action, suspicious circumstances or is part of an official investigation to be cremated.

Repatriation to the U.S.

Should you decide to have the remains returned to the U.S. for burial or cremation, the cost would be substantially greater due to the high cost of air freight/ground transportation. The total cost for preparation and air shipment also varies depending on the funeral service hired and the place where the remains will be shipped.

Funeral homes are usually unable to begin work until they have payment in hand. You can access our page with location, contact information and approximate pricing for Funeral services located in the State of Chihuahua.

Preparation and air shipment are carried out in accordance with the laws of and facilities available in Mexico and in some cases, the services fall short of those expected in the U.S. We recommend that you ask your home town funeral director to determine the advisability of viewing the remains.

Unless the funeral home you hire in Mexico has offices in the U.S., your loved one’s remains will need to be received in the U.S. by a different, licensed funeral home. If this is the case you will need to make arrangements for receipt with your home town funeral director.

Necessary process for recovering remains.

In order to recover and have the remains prepared for burial/cremation or transport to the U.S. the body has to be officially identified with the Mexican authorities, for this they require that a direct family member presents himself in their offices bringing picture id, from the deceased the documents needed are: birth certificate and form of identification (passport, birth certificate or picture ID). A representative from the funeral home that will provide the service has to be present as well so by this time the establishment of your choosing must have been notified, usually the Funeral Service will be the one who will issue a Mexican Death Certificate, otherwise it can be obtained through the Mexican Civil Registry.

In some instances, the Next of Kin is unable to travel to Mexico for any number of reasons, in these cases we ask that we are contacted so we can go through different options to conduct this process.

Mortuary Arrangements in Mexico

Absent any special circumstances (such as the death having occurred as the result of a crime), Mexican law allows remains to be cremated or embalmed immediately following death and a suitable funeral home should be contacted.

While you are free to contact any funeral home you wish, and while we cannot endorse any private business, we are aware of several establishments in the Chihuahua area that can assist and have provided adequate embalming services in the past. See List of Funeral Homes in the State of Chihuahua.

Timing

Many factors can affect how much time will be needed to prepare your loved one’s remains for return to the United States. Because of these many variables, it is best not to make plans for ceremonies and the like until the funeral home you are working with can provide a firm timetable.

Here are some estimates of the time various steps of the process may take.

  • The identification of the remains can be done in several ways including visual, fingerprints, dental records and DNA testing, these processes can take from a couple of hours to several weeks.
  • The police may withhold permission to cremate or embalm for as long as necessary if they believe the death was as the result of a crime which they need to investigate. This investigation may in some instances require an autopsy, which by itself may require one or more days.
  • Embalming or cremation may take several days depending on the location of the remains and the schedule of the mortuary company.
  • Cremated remains properly prepared may be taken by the Next-of-Kin on a commercial flight. Embalmed remains must be transported as cargo, and require processing by the Mexican airline. The arrangements for shipping may take several days.
  • Embalmed remains must be turned over to a licensed mortician at the airport or Port of Entry in the U.S.
  • In some cases, no space may be available on outgoing flights for embalmed remains, introducing delays.
  • The paper work necessary from the Consulate can typically be issued within one business day once we have the proper documentation from the Mexican authorities.

The Report of Death

The Consulate prepares a Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad for every civilian American who dies in the State of Chihuahua. This certificate is based on the Mexican Death Certificate and is valid for use in the United States.

In order to issue a Report of Death abroad, we need the following documents: Mexican Death Certificate and proof of U.S. citizenship (copy of U.S. Passport, birth certificate or Naturalization Certificate) of the deceased, picture ID of the Next of Kin. These documents can be submitted in person, by fax (from the U.S.) to 011-52-656-227-3264 or by email tocdjscs@state.gov, we anticipate an interval of about two to three business days for processing.

Some U.S. insurance companies, other agencies, and courts in the U.S. request information on our legal authority to issue such reports. That authority is contained in 22 U.S. Code 4196; 22 Code of Federal Regulations 72.1.

Twenty copies of the Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad, issued at the time of death, will be provided to the Next of Kin free of charge and the original will be sent to the Department of State for permanent filing. If in the future you find you need additional copies, they can be obtained for a fee of 50 dollars per copy. Please send a signed and notarized written request including all pertinent facts of the occasion along with a copy of the requester’s valid photo identification to the following office. For more details on how to make a request, please visit the State Department’s travel site.

U.S. Department of State
Passport Vital Records Office
1111 19th Street NW, Suite 510
Washington, DC 20522-1705

Transporting crematory remains to the U.S.

Visit the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website for information on traveling with crematory remains.

After-Hours Emergency Contact Number

DO NOT/NOT call this number if you have a Visa or a Waiver question.

227-3000

DO NOT/NOT call this number if you have a Visa or a Waiver question.

If calling from a Ciudad Juarez phone dial 227-3000.

If calling from other parts in Mexico dial 01-656-227-3000.

If calling from the U.S. dial 011-52-656-227-3000.

For Non-Emergency Issues and all visa related inquiries, please see our Contact Information Page to contact the Consulate during regular business hours.

If you are in Mexico, help may be closer than you think. Determine if there is a Consulate or Consular Agency near you that can help. Find your nearest American Citizens Services location.

In the unfortunate case of the death of a U.S. Citizen abroad, the U.S. Consulate General Guadalajara can assist in a number of ways. If required, the Consulate will notify the next of kin of the deceased. The Consulate will also provide assistance in making arrangements for the disposition of the remains and, if desired, the shipment of the remains back to the United States. Costs for preparing and returning the remains from Mexico to the U.S. are the responsibility of the family.

At the request of the next of kin, the U.S. Consulate Guadalajara will prepare a Consular Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad based on the local death certificate. This Report can be used as proof of death in most legal proceedings in the United States.

If the next of kin are present, the process is facilitated for both the Consulate staff and the grieving family. Please be considerate of your family, even if you choose to live away from them, and maintain an updated, easy-to-locate contact list for use in case of emergency or death.

In the event of a death of a U.S. citizen, the U.S. Consulate is open from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday.

To File a Consular Report of Death Abroad

In order to issue a Consular Report of Death Abroad, the Consulate will require the following documents:

  1. The Mexican Death Certificate (Acta de Defunción);
  2. Evidence of the deceased’s U.S. citizenship, such as a passport, birth certificate, or Certificate of Naturalization;
  3. The deceased’s Social Security Number;
  4. The next-of kin’s photo I.D., address, and telephone number.
  • If the next-of-kin’s last name and the deceased’s do not match, evidence of kinship is required, such as birth or marriage certificates.

All documents must be original.

As the next-of-kin, you will receive 20 certified copies of the Consular Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad at no cost. If you need more copies, please request them at the beginning of the process. Later requests for additional copies must be processed through the Department of State in Washington for a fee.

To Ship Remains Back to the U.S.

If embalmed remains are to be shipped back to the U.S. for interment, the Mexican funeral home will provide documentation to accompany the casket. The Consulate will translate the documents and provide a transit letter in English, to satisfy U.S. Customs requirements. The document service is free, but the cost of transport may be greater than $5000 USD.

Due to Mexican law, unembalmed remains may not be transported. The U.S. Consulate is unable to assist anyone who wishes to transport unembalmed remains back to the U.S. for interment.

To Return to the U.S. with Cremated Ashes

Transporting cremated ashes back to the U.S. does not require any further documentation from the Consulate. You may carry the ashes with you in your hand luggage, accompanied by the Mexican Death Certificate (Acta de Defuncion) and a Constancia de Cremacion, which will be provided to you by the Mexican funeral home. The cost of cremation will probably be at least $1000 USD.

List of Funeral Homes in Sonora and Sinaloa (PDF 24 KB)

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Mexican authorities contact the U. S. Consulate when a U.S. Citizen passes away in Mexico.  The Consul, in turn, attempts to contact family members to inform them of the tragic event and to share information on the necessary steps for the disposition of the remains.  The information includes the different methods and cost of disposition such as returning the remains to the United States, local incineration and local burials.

The Next of Kin may choose to travel to Mexico to personally coordinate with local authorities or choose to allow the Consul to act on his or her behalf.  Though the Consul can represent the Next of Kin with local authorities in the disposition of the remains, the costs associtated will be the responsibility of the family, the U. S. Consulate does not accept any responsibility for disposition costs.

In all cases, the death of an American Citizen, whether resident or tourist in Mexico, should be reported to the Consulate in order to obtain an official Report of Death of an American Citizen.  This document, which is in English, is helpful in resolving estate matters in the United States.”

More information on death of U.S. Citizens Abroad.

The US Consulate General Matamoros can assist if an American citizen passes away in our consular district.

List of Funeral Homes in Tamaulipas

The death of a loved one is often followed by an emotional, stressful period which may be felt even more acutely by family navigating through the many steps and paperwork required when a loved one dies outside of the U.S. The information contained herein is general, for deaths with no unusual circumstances, does not constitute legal advice, and is not meant to be an exhaustive list. Procedures and requirements may vary from case to case and depending on local authorities.

We can assist you in making arrangements with the Mexican funeral home for disposition of the deceased and forwarding of personal effects. We will work with the funeral home to ensure proper documentation for shipment of remains to the U.S. The U.S. Consulate and Consular Agencies cannot cover any of these costs; family or friends of the deceased are responsible for all expenses.

Upon learning of the death of a U.S. citizen, an employee of the Consulate will inform the next of kin (NOK), family member, or friend (herein referred to as “you”) and offer condolences. In general the order of kinship for a person who dies without a will are surviving spouse, adult children, parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, although local authorities may decide who will make decisions on disposition of remains (for example, the blood adult relative of the deceased rather than a spouse). The following is then required:

  1. You fill out and send as completely and quickly as possible (via email to: AskMeridaACS@state.gov) the personal data sheet with information about the deceased.
  1. You select a local funeral home in Mexico. We maintain a list of local Funeral Homes who have worked with U.S. citizens in the past.
  1. You make a decision (normally within 24 hours) on disposition of remains. Will the body be embalmed and returned to the U.S., cremated and ashes sent or hand-carried to the U.S., or buried locally? Check with the funeral home for prices and payment options. The policy of most funeral homes in Mexico is pre-payment for services.

Your choices would be:

–  Burial: Interment in a local cemetery in Mexico.
–  Embalming/shipment of remains: From Mexico for burial or cremation in the U.S.
–  Cremation: Local cremation procedures result in a fine ash, similar to the – results of cremations performed in the United States. For information on hand-carrying the ashes please visit the Transportation Security Administration website as well as your airline’s website.

  1. In cases where embalmed remains or ashes (not hand-carried by NOK) will be sent to the states via air shipment, you must choose a U.S. funeral home to receive remains and pass all contact information for the U.S. funeral home to the Mexican funeral home. The local Mexican funeral home and the U.S. funeral home will act as your agents during the repatriation. It is very important that they have clear lines of communication. It is recommended that they know each other’s phone, cell, fax and email.  In most cases, payment must be received before the Mexican funeral home will send remains to the U.S. funeral home.
  2. The deceased is legally in the custody of the local police authorities (Ministerio Público) until the police have authorized, in writing, the release to the NOK. Please note the funeral home you select in Mexico cannot begin the process of repatriation until the local authorities have released the remains to the funeral home with your written, notarized authorization.
  • Requirements for releasing the deceased from police custody:
  • If the death occurred outside of a doctor’s care, family and/or friends traveling with the deceased must give a statement at the local police station explaining events and attesting to the identity of the deceased person. Four copies of the passport and Mexican visa of each person giving a statement and of the deceased must be presented. (Note: When U.S. citizens enter Mexico they fill out a form and upon admission to Mexico you are given the smaller part of the form. This is your Mexican visa). It is normally at this time that the police will release the deceased from their custody to the NOK, someone designated by NOK, or the funeral home, pending the autopsy. Local law requires that an autopsy be done on all foreigners that pass away in Mexico, except in cases deemed “death by natural causes”. There are no exceptions.  In case of “natural death”, the attending doctor will provide the family of the deceased or the Mexican funeral home with the death certificate (at a cost) and the family will be required to appear at the civil registry office to give information about the deceased for the death certificate. The medical examiner will provide the Mexican funeral home with the death certificate. Your Mexican funeral home will assist you with the entire process. Also before the remains can be repatriated the NOK must clearly inform, in writing, the Mexican funeral home of their wishes regarding disposition of the body.
  • In cases where there is no NOK/family member/friend present, the NOK can solicit release of the deceased, in writing, through the U.S. Consulate or Consular Agency in Cancun, Playa del Carmen or Cozumel. The letter must have the stamp and signature of a notary public. A clear copy of the NOK’s official government identification (U.S. passport page with your name and photo on it, driver license, etc.) with signature must also accompany this request. In cases where the NOK has a different last name than the deceased, Mexican officials sometimes also request proof of familial relationship (copy of a birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc.). Please note that authorities will not accept illegible copies or illegible faxes. Accordingly, whenever possible it is best to scan and send via email rather than fax. Remember we cannot accept a letter without signature, so you will need to produce letter, print, sign, and scan and return via email.  See our contact information. Please see the attached sample letter (PDF 40Kb).

The U.S. Consulate in Merida will issue a Consular Report of Death Abroad (CRODA) of an American Citizen to settle legal and estate matters in the U.S., at no expense to the family. The U.S. passport and Mexican visa of the deceased must be given to the Mexican funeral home so that they may process all the paperwork necessary to repatriate your loved one. Before the remains are repatriated, the Mexican funeral home will give the passport to the U.S. Consulate or Consular Agency along with an original death certificate. The U.S. Consulate in Merida will use those two documents to issue a CRODA that will act as the U.S. death certificate in all legal, estate and insurance matters. The U.S. Consulate will return the passport, along with 20 originals of the CRODA to the NOK. Normally we prepare and send this report by FedEx within approximately one month. In order for you to receive the CRODA and passport in a timely manner you must ensure that the Personal Data Sheet contains the address and phone number where the CRODAs are to be sent.

For more information please visit the following U.S. Department of State websites:
Return of Remains of Deceased U.S. Citizens
Estates of Deceased U.S. Citizens
Deaths of U.S. Citizens Abroad by Non-Natural Causes

The American Consulate General in Monterrey serves the families of Americans who die in its Consular District, which includes the Mexican states of Nuevo León, Durango, San Luis Potosí, Zacatecas, and the southern part of Coahuila.  For information on other states in Mexico, please contact the Embassy or the appropriate consulate.

It is critical that families contract a funeral home to help them carry out funeral arrangements.  The U.S. Consulate General in Monterrey maintains a list of funeral homes (PDF – 82K) operating within its Consular District that have been used by U.S. citizens in Mexico.  Funeral services and preparations are carried out in accordance with the laws and facilities available in Mexico, but in some cases they may fall short of those expected in the U.S.

Although the consulate staff is unable to act as agents for American citizens making funeral arrangements, we can help locate and notify the next-of-kin of their loved one’s passing, inform families about the Mexican legal requirements for claiming a loved one’s remains, and assist in shipping personal effects to the United States.

The next-of-kin is responsible for all costs of the funeral home, and/or shipment of remains or personal effects.  It is also the responsibility of the family to carry out the funeral arrangements with assistance from the contracted funeral home.  Please be aware that Mexican authorities will often request identification documents for both the next-of-kin and the decedent, such as passports, birth certificates, or marriage certificates.

The U.S. Consulate General in Monterrey also prepares a Report of Death of a U.S. Citizen Abroad based on the local Mexican death certificate.  This document can be used in most legal proceedings in the United States as proof of death overseas.  To prepare this document, consular staff will need original evidence of U.S. citizenship of the decedent and the original Mexican death certificate.

Disposition and Shipment of Remains
The following information is provided to assist families with their initial decisions following the death of a loved one.  Costs are estimates only based on surveys of area funeral homes.  Current Mexican laws on Disposition of Remains are cited and the estimated cost for services for each major city within the Monterrey consular district is detailed.

A. Maximum Period Before Interment
Mexican law does not place a limit for interment of embalmed remains.  Ordinarily, when the remains are not embalmed, disposition should take place between 12 and 24 hours after death, except with specific authorization of public health authorities.

Burial must take place within 24 hours after death, unless a judicial investigation requires a longer waiting period, or the Department of Health has authorized the remains to be embalmed or otherwise preserved.

B. Embalming
There are at least three funeral homes in each major city within our consular district which have embalming facilities.  Embalming may be performed between 12 and 24 hours after death.

C. Cremation
Local and national laws permit cremation, which may be performed between 12 and 24 hours after death.  There are at least two crematory furnaces in Monterrey.

D. Caskets and Containers
Remains that are to be transported out of the country by plane must be placed in a zinc, lead or iron casket hermetically sealed.  The casket, or in case of cremation, the urn, must be placed inside a wooden box of three centimeters thickness.  This regulation is not completely enforced.  Authorities do not object to the use of any metal casket or the thickness of the wooden case, and the only instance when the metal casket is sealed by soldering is when the remains were decomposed or in very poor condition when embalmed.

However, the wooden case is always nailed.  When the remains are to be transported out of the country by land, the wooden case is not required.  Caskets and containers available locally meet the requirements for shipment of remains out of the country.

E. Exportation of Remains

Requirements for the exportation of human remains:

  • Embalmment of the remains.
  • The remains must be placed in a metal casket, which must be encased in a nailed wooden box if shipped by air (See paragraph D).
  • Transit permit and final destination information.
  • Death certificate from the Civil Registry (2 certified copies).
  • Consular Mortuary Certificate and Embalmer’s Affidavit signed before the American Consul.Requirements for exportation of ashes:

Requirements for exportation of ashes:

  • The ashes must be placed in a metal urn.
  • Death Certificate from the Civil Registry (2 certified copies).
  • Consular Mortuary Certificate and Cremation Certificate.

F. Costs
For average estimates for five major cities in our consular district please see Cost for Disposition and Shipping of remains (PDF – 74K). All costs have been converted from local currency to U.S. Dollars at the rate of exchange of 14.00 Mexican pesos  = U.S. Dollars $1.00.

G. Exhumation and shipment
Federal Regulations permit exhumation of adults’ remains after six years of interment and after five years for children’s remains.  This general time requirement may be increased or decreased by the Public Health Department depending upon health considerations in the individual case.

Death certificate and ownership title or lease contract of the cemetery lot are required to exhume remains after six years of interment.  Shipment should be made in a metal container (sealed by soldering) which is placed in a wooden box.

Following are average estimates of the cost of exhumation and preparation for shipment of remains in the following cities:

City Mexican Pesos U.S. Dollars
Monterrey $  9,240.00 $   733.00
Saltillo $10,250.00  $   813.00
Durango $21,000.00  $1,666.00
San Luis Potosí $11,106.00 $   881.00
Zacatecas $16,790.00 $1,332.00

 

H. Autopsy
An autopsy is mandatory in cases where the person might have died as a result of a crime, and only the district attorney (Ministerio Público) handling the case can waive this requirement.  Other cases classified by the Mexican authorities as violent deaths, such as unaccompanied people found dead with no explanation, deaths resulting from an accident, trauma, fatal blow, etc., also require an autopsy.

As long as the deceased had not previously stated/written his/her opposition to an autopsy, the following is required for an autopsy:

  • Order from the district attorney’s office (Ministerio Público), or from the judicial or health authorities;
  • Authorization from disponente originario (deceased); or
  • Authorization from disponentes secundarios (i.e., next-of-kin, health authorities, etc.).

Services for non-Americans
The U.S. Consulate General in Monterrey can facilitate the entrance of remains of non-Americans to the United States by issuing a Consular Mortuary Certificate.  To request this document, the funeral home or the family of the deceased should provide the Consulate with:

For remains:

  1. Embalmment certificate;
  2. Death certificate from the Civil Registry;
  3. Transit permit and destination information (plane, ship or bus); and
  4. Affidavit by the local funeral home representative, signed before the American Consul.
  5. The cost for this service is $60.00 USD.  The fee for the notary service provided on the affidavit from the local funeral home representative is $50.00 USD.

For ashes:

  1. The ashes must be placed in a metal urn;
  2. Death Certificate from the Civil Registry;
  3. Destination information (plane, ship or bus); and
  4. Cremation Certificate
  5. The cost for this service is $60.00 USD.

This service is available Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., except on American and Mexican holidays.

Mexican authorities contact the U. S. Consulate when a U.S. Citizen passes away in Mexico.  The Consul, in turn, attempts to contact family members to inform them of the tragic event and to share information on the necessary steps for the disposition of the remains.  The information includes the different methods and cost of disposition such as returning the remains to the United States, local incineration and local burials.

The Next of Kin may choose to travel to Mexico to personally coordinate with local authorities or choose to allow the Consul to act on his or her behalf.  Though the Consul can represent the Next of Kin with local authorities in the disposition of the remains, the costs associtated will be the responsibility of the family, the U. S. Consulate does not accept any responsibility for disposition costs.

In all cases, the death of an American Citizen, whether resident or tourist in Mexico, should be reported to the Consulate in order to obtain an official Report of Death of an American Citizen.  This document, which is in English, is helpful in resolving estate matters in the United States.

More information on death of U.S. Citizens Abroad.

The US Consulate General Nogales can assist if an American citizen passes away in our consular district.

The Consulate can assist family and friends in the event of the death of an American Citizen in our consular district.  Although we can assist in arranging disposition of remains and forwarding of personal effects, the family must pay all costs of the funeral home, shipment of remains and personal effects. The Consulate will work with the funeral home to ensure proper documentation for shipment of remains to the U.S.

Even if no assistance is needed in making such arrangements, the death of an American citizen, whether resident or tourist, should be reported to the Consulate so that a Report of Death Abroad can be issued. This document is necessary to settle legal and estate matters in the U.S. In order to prepare this document, the Consulate will need:

  • An original or certified copy of the Mexican death certificate;
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship and identity of the deceased;
  • Social Security number of the deceased (if available); and
  • Information on the disposition of remains, the next of kin, and disposition of personal effects.

Additional Information on Deaths in Tamaulipas

The State of Tamaulipas, Mexico does not have an official morgue. Instead, the government has an agreement with local funeral homes that function as morgues for all death cases. The regulations don’t specify a term for interment, so the funeral homes may keep the remains for varying amounts of time, depending on if the body is embalmed or not.

The two funeral homes that work with the State government as morgues in Nuevo Laredo are:

Funeraria Valdez
2161 Campeche St
Phone: 011-52-867-719-0402 (dialing from the U.S.)

Funeraria La Paz
3352 Francisco I. Madero
Phone: 011-52-867-712-0212 (dialing from the U.S.)

Cremation

Cremation costs are approximately $1,000.00 USD, which includes processing the proper documentation (death registration, death certificate, and the permit from Secretary of Health). The receptacle is simple and made of plastic. If the family wants another type of container, they can purchase it separately. The funeral home can ship the ashes through the services of a courier company, for which the family would incur an additional cost.

Shipment of Remains to the U.S.

The best option for shipments of remains to the United States is to contact a funeral home located in Laredo, TX, which could work with the funeral home in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico throughout the entire process. Once the remains are in Laredo, TX, they can be transferred to any city in the U.S. The Mexican funeral homes charge approximately $1,200.00 USD, which includes a simple casket, embalming, documentation, and shipment to Laredo, TX.

For this purpose, below is a list with the contact information of several funeral homes in Laredo, Texas:

South Texas Mortuary & Cremation
3718 Santa Ursula Ave
(956) 796-1355

Hillside Funeral Home
Website
310 W Hillside Rd
(956) 724-6060

Joe Jackson Height Funeral Home
Website
719 N Loring Ave
(956) 722-0001

Joe Jackson Heights Funeral
Website
1900 Springfield Ave
(956) 726-0002

Buitro Funeral Homes
4502 Thomas Ave
(956) 723-3611

Exhumation Regulations

Remains buried in Tamaulipas can be exhumed up to six years after interment.

Autopsies

The District Attorney’s office is in charge of ordering an autopsy, depending on the case. If the person dies of natural causes in a hospital, the autopsy is not necessary, unless requested by the family. If a person dies in a hospital as consequence of a crime, the autopsy is obligatory. All deaths that occur in a public space will involve the prosecutor, who will order the autopsy.

Additional Information on Deaths in Coahuila

The State of Coahuila, Mexico, has an official morgue named SEMEFO (Servicio Medico Forense), which may keep the remains for three days without embalming. After that, the remains would have to be buried in a pauper’s grave or a graveyard for unclaimed remains.

Cremation

Cremation costs are approximately $1,000.00 USD, which includes processing the proper documentation (death registration, death certificate, and the permit from Secretary of Health). The receptacle is simple and made of plastic. If the family wants another type of container, they can purchase it separately. The funeral home can ship the ashes through the services of a courier company, for which the family would incur an additional cost.

Shipment of Remains to the U.S.

The best option for shipments of remains to the United States is to contact a funeral home located in Del Rio or Eagle Pass, Texas, which could work with the funeral home in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico throughout the entire process. Once the remains are in Laredo, TX, they can be transferred to any city in the U.S. The Mexican funeral homes charge approximately $1,200.00 USD, which includes a simple casket, embalming, documentation, and shipment to Laredo, TX.

For this purpose, below is a list with the contact information of several funeral homes in Eagle Pass and Del Rio, Texas:

EAGLE PASS, TX

Memorial Funeral Chapels
1705 Del Rio Blvd
(830) 773-9591

Yeager Barrera Mortuary
1613 Del Rio Blvd
(830) 773-3211

Eagle Pass Monuments
1807 E Main St
(830) 773-0023

Riojas Funeral Home
1451 S Veterans Blvd
(830) 773-4040

Fagala Services
4233 Deer Run Blvd
(830) 757-0423

DEL RIO, TX

Sunset Memorial Oaks Funeral
2020 N Bedell Ave
(830) 778-2020

GW Cox Memorial Funeral Home
114 Fletcher Dr
(830) 775-2000

Don’s Funeral Chapels
307 Plaza Ave
(830) 775-2626

Del Rio Funeral Home
200 E Garfield St
(830) 775-2222

John Glenn Home
110 John Glenn Dr
(830) 774-3904

Exhumation Regulations

Remains buried in Coahuila can be exhumed up to five years after interment.

Autopsies

The District Attorney’s office is in charge of ordering an autopsy, depending on the case. If the person dies of natural causes in a hospital, the autopsy is not necessary, unless demanded by the family. If a person dies in a hospital as consequence of a crime, the autopsy is obligatory. All deaths that occur in a public space will involve the prosecutor, who will order the autopsy.

The U.S. Consulate in Tijuana can assist family and friends in the event of the death of an American Citizen in the Mexican states of Baja California and Baja California Sur. It is critical that families contract a funeral home to help them carry out their funeral arrangements.  The Consulate maintains list of funeral homes in Baja California and the border region of companies that have been recommended by families of American citizens who have used their services.  Although Consulate staff are unable to act as an agent for American citizens making funeral arrangements, we can help locate and notify the next of kin of their loved one’s passing, inform families about the Mexican legal requirements for claiming a loved one’s remains, identify remains in certain cases and assist in shipping personal effects to the States.  The next of kin must pay all costs of the funeral home, shipment of remains or personal effects and carry out the funeral arrangements with assistance from the funeral home they contract.  Please be aware that Mexican authorities will often request identification documents for both the next of kin and the decedent, such as passports, birth certificates, and marriage certificates.  The funeral home will advise each family what is likely to be needed.

Even if no assistance is needed in understanding funeral arrangements , the death of an American citizen, whether resident or tourist, should be reported to the Consulate so that the officers can issue a Consular Report of Death Abroad (the official U.S. death certificate for U.S. citizens who pass away overseas). This document is necessary to settle legal and estate matters in the U.S. In order to prepare this document, the Consulate will often need the next of kin to provide certain documents, such as a copy of the Mexican death certificate or United States passport.  A consular officer will explain to the next of kin what is needed in each case.

List of Funeral Homes (PDF – 10KB)

Disposition of Remains

The following general information is provided to assist families with their initial decisions following the death of a loved one.  Indicated costs are estimates, based on deaths with no unusual circumstances.

A. Maximum Period Before Interment

(1) There is no fixed period if the body is embalmed and refrigeration is available.  Generally, remains are held for 10 days, but the time varies depending on the location and circumstances.  Both services are generally available in Baja California, but not in much of Baja California Sur — except for La Paz and Cabo San Lucas.

(2) Within 24 hours after death, if body is not embalmed.

B. Embalming

Baja California has dozens of funeral homes, The consulate has compiled a short list of reputable firms. All funeral homes on the list offer embalming services.  Embalming must be done within 24 hours after death.  Embalming services are generally not up to United States standards.  The Consulate has provided a link to a list of funeral homes in Tijuana (PDF – 60KB).

C. Cremation

Local laws permit cremation if requested by next of kin, who must be present to sign the cremation paperwork. There are several cremation facilities throughout the Baja peninsula, consult your funeral home for information on locations and costs. Local cremation procedures result in a fine ash, very similar to the results of cremations performed in the United States.

D. Caskets and Containers

Caskets and containers are available locally.  Caskets can be hermetically sealed in the case of a death from a communicable disease.

E. Exportation of Remains

Local funeral homes obtain original copies of the following documents in order to export a body: Mexican death certificate, permit from the health department, embalming permit.  These original documents must be presented by the person traveling with the remains at the port of entry into the United States.

F. Costs

All costs have been converted from pesos to dollars at exchange rate of approximately 12.5 pesos per $1 USD. The actual exchange rate will be the prevailing rate at the time expenses are incurred.

(1)   Burial.  The lowest cost of burial in Baja California varies between $500-$600 for interment in a local cemetery using a wooden casket.  Costs for local burials in the Baja California Sur area range from $850 to $1,100.

(2) Embalming.  The cost of embalming in Baja California: $150 to $490.  In Baja California Sur the cost of embalming fluctuates between $250 and $440.

(3) Preparation for shipment.  The average cost of permits required to ship the remains is $100 to $200.

(4) Shipping.  Remains may be transported to the United States by land at one of several international border crossings or by air from airports in both Baja California and Baja California Sur.  The cost is similar to that of commercial passenger fare.  If the remains are in the Baja California Sur area, they can be shipped from the San Jose Del Cabo International Airport or La Paz Airport.  In Baja California, they may be shipped from the Tijuana International Airport, although most families opt to cross the remains by land to San Diego and fly them home from the San Diego International Airport, which generally costs less.  There are no restrictions on placing cremated remains with checked baggage (as long as the death certificate and other documentation are on hand).

(5) Caskets.  The cost of caskets available locally ranges from $500 to $3,000.

(6) Cremation.  The cost of local cremation, including permits, death certificate and a temporary container, averages $1,500.

G. Exhumation

Generally, exhumation is not permitted until five years after initial interment.  However, if next of kin were not been aware of the decedent’s death and burial in Mexico, the remains may be exhumed at any time.  The cost of an exhumation can run in the thousands of dollars.  Exhumation labor costs have no fixed price, since they depend upon the amount of work and time required for exhumation.

H. Autopsies

Per Mexican law, an autopsy is routinely performed unless the individual died in a hospital or was, at the time of death, being attended to by a physician.

I.  The Common Grave

Any remains not claimed by family or friends will be buried in the common grave (pauper’s grave).  The common grave is an unmarked grave, shared by other decedents, and typically requires 5 years to pass before remains can be exhumed at the next of kin’s expense.