Death and Dying in Denmark
How to proceed if you need to report the death of a family member or arrange the burial, cremation or the repatriation of remains outside Denmark...
In the event of the death of a family member, friend or relative in Denmark the first thing to do is to contact the local doctor of the deceased. The doctor certifies the death and issues a medical certificate of death (Dødsattest) and a death report, and reports the death to the local authorities (Sundhedsstyrelsen).
Reporting a Death and Burial Request
All deaths in Denmark are registered by the Danish National Church and must be reported to the local church office in the area of residence/parish of the deceased within 48 hours. This report, which is also a burial request, has to be carried out even if the deceased was affiliated with another religion, or not a member of the church.
- The form to report a death is called Dødsanmeldelse og anmodning om begravelse/ligbrænding)
- To find a local parish office: Click here (in Danish)
The death can be reported by a relative, or by a local funeral parlour on behalf of the relative.
When reporting a death a number of documents need to be supplied:
- Medical certificate of death issued by the doctor
- Social security card of the deceased
- Marriage or birth certificate of the deceased
The Church Office then notifies the National Register (folkeregister) of the death. The Probate Court (skifteret) is also informed of the death and, soon afterwards, summons the family to deal with the distribution of the deceased's assets.
After the death has been reported to the Danish National Church, the relatives of the deceased receive an official burial approval in writing from the church office (Godkendelsesattest).
The burial approval must be given to the church or crematorium where the burial or cremation is to take place. In general, the burial or cremation takes place within eight days of the death. Financial assistance may be available through the local authorities.
A burial or cremation takes place according to Danish law and the deceased's will, and at places authorised by the Danish Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs (Kirkeministeriet). All citizens in Denmark have the right to be buried in a cemetery, regardless of their religion. Some cemeteries have a burial site for religious communities outside of the Danish National Church
Burial may take place on private property with the permission of the Church Minister, and if requested by the deceased in their will. Applications must be made through the local Church office.
Dispersal of ashes
If the deceased has stated the wish for their ashes to be dispersed, the relative must submit an application form at the place of cremation before the cremation takes place.
- The application form (Spredning af aske over åbent hav) is available online: Click here (in Danish)
According to Danish law, dispersal of ashes is permitted in the sea, large fjords or bays. It is prohibited to disperse ashes over a lake. Ashes may not be dispersed in the urn itself.
Repatriation of the Body
Returning the deceased to their home country generally requires the help of the relevant local embassy or consulate, and can be organised by a funeral parlour which takes care of the necessary documentation with local authorities. A special permit must be issued by the local authorities before the body can be repatriated.
The passport of the deceased should travel with the body.
Euthanasia/assisted suicide is not legal in Denmark.