Death and Dying in Bulgaria
Find out how and where to report the death, how to arrange a burial or cremation, and where you may scatter ashes. Plus, information on how to repatriate a body...
A death is always hard for those involved. Below is information on what to do should you find yourself in this unfortunate position:
In the Event of a Death
- If the death does not take place in a hospital contact a General Practitioner (GP). If necessary the doctor will request the presence of the police or a medical expert.
- The GP attending the body, or doctor at a hospital, completes a form: the Announcement of Death (????????? ?? ?????). This is not a Certificate of Death (??????? ???). The Announcement establishes the event and gives detailed information on the cause and circumstances under which the person has died.
- Once the Announcement of Death is issued by a doctor, the document must be registered at the municipality in which the death took place so that a Certificate of Death can be issued.
- The Certificate of Death gives legal permission for a burial to take place. It must be issued by the authorities within 48 hours, and is free of charge.
Registration of a Death
The Announcement of Death should be taken to the Citizen's office (?????????? ?????????) of the local Town Hall as soon as possible. This should be done by next-of-kin, or if they were not present, by anyone else present at the time of death. This person must take proof of identity when registering the death. The Citizen's office will then issue the Certificate of Death within 48 hours. This is required for burial to take place.
Contents of the Certificate of Death
The Certificate of Death states:
- The place where the Certificate is issued (municipality, town)
- Certificate number and date of issue
- Date, day of the week and exact hour of death
- Exact place of death (country, municipality, town)
- Cause of death
- Name and surname of the deceased, place and date of birth, identity card number, age, gender, nationality, marital status, permanent address
- Names of the deceased's parents, identity card numbers and address (if applicable)
- Name, identity card number and permanent address of the person that registered the death
- Name, identity card number and signature of the person issuing the Certificate of Death
- The Announcement of Death and any other certificate that identifies death are enclosed
- Any other relevant information
The person in charge of issuing the Certificate of Death sends the identity card of the deceased to the local police station. If the deceased is a foreign citizen, who is to be buried in Bulgaria, the person in charge of issuing the certificate will confiscate all identification documents of the deceased and send them to the nearest police office. If the deceased is a foreign citizen whose remains are to be repatriated abroad, only the Bulgarian identification document is confiscated (if the deceased has one) and sent to the nearest police office. All other identification documents are handed to the people accompanying the remains. They are also given a certified copy of the Certificate of Death.
Funerals and Burial in Bulgaria
Once the necessary documents are issued a burial ritual can be organised. Contact a funeral parlour (?????????? ???????) which can assist in all the procedures. Burial plots in Bulgaria are free-of-charge for the first eight years and then must be rented by the next-of kin in ten year intervals. The full ten year rent must be paid before the previous rental expires. The cost of plot rental is set by the local Town Hall.
Cremation is only possible in Sofia. Additional documents are required for a cremation to take place:
- The Certificate of Death
- A Permission for Cremation (????? ?? ????????) issued by the doctor who signed the Announcement of Death. The permission is also a declaration that there is no evidence of a violent death and that the doctor gives permission for the remains to be cremated
- A declaration by the next-of-kin stating that they agree that the body can be cremated. This declaration must be signed in front of a Public Notary or lawyer. A copy of the person's identification document must be provided
Repatriation of a Body
Permission for the remains to be repatriated must be obtained from the local authorities. The deceased person's passport and the Death Certificate must be presented before permission can be issued. If ashes are to be repatriated, a copy of the Cremation Certificate is also required.
Repatriation may be covered by travel or life insurance. If this is the case, the insurance company will make arrangements.
Embassies and Consulates can provide advice but not financial assistance with repatriation of a citizen.
- Information on registering a death of a UK citizen
- Information from the American Embassy in Bulgaria
- Sofia Crematorium (in Bulgarian)