Death and Dying in Indonesia
Find out how and where to report the death, how to arrange a burial or cremation, and where you may scatter ashes. Plus, details on how to repatriate a body...
The death of a foreign national who is visiting or traveling in Indonesia must be reported to the Populations and Civil Registration Administration (Kependudukan dan Pencatatan Sipil), or Population Administration (Administrasi Kependudukan).
This office is usually found in the government buildings (Kantor Bupati) of a local municipality's main city.
Reporting a Death in Indonesia
In the event of a death, the first step is to contact the local police. A doctor can be contacted, but the police must be contacted immediately as well.
In Indonesia, reporting a death is not the same as registering a death. For example, if a deceased foreigner was a tourist traveling alone, then it is usually the the responsibility of the hotel where the foreigner was staying to report the death. (A hotel is legally obliged to report any foreign guest to the local police within 24 hours of check-in.)
If a foreigner in Indonesia dies elsewhere, the person who finds the body or witnesses the death should call the police immediately. If the deceased person is carrying a passport, the police will find the hotel. The police secure all belongings and legal papers in the hotel room.
If the deceased is not carrying identification and no one knows his or her hotel, the police investigate. Everyone in Indonesia is expected to carry identification and Indonesians are supposed to carry their National Identity Cards at all times.
Contacting the Consulate
By law, the Indonesian authorities are required to contact the deceased foreigner's Consulate. A foreign national both accompanying and related to the deceased at the time of death may also contact the Consulate personally as the Consulate can offer help in how best to proceed. Consulates are required to contact next of kin in the home country. In some situations, a consular officer might be responsible for collecting the body and arranging for it to be returned to the home country. Such services are handled differently by each country.
Foreigners in Indonesia as well as their next of kin should familiarise themselves with their consulate's legal responsibilities in the event of injury or death abroad. Consular services are listed and published on embassy websites.
Timeline for reporting the death of a foreigner
In populated areas, a foreigner's death must be reported to the police within three days. If a foreigner is a temporary or permanent resident, the neighbourhood administration (Kepala Catatan Sipil) where the foreigner was registered must also be contacted within the same time period. It cannot be assumed that the neighbourhood administration will be automatically notified by the police.
If the death happens in a very remote area, a week or ten days is usually considered an acceptable amount of time in which to notify police. In Indonesia, the law varies by region and according to circumstance.
Registering a Foreigner's Death
After a death is reported, the police make arrangements to have the body transported to a hospital morgue where a post-mortem takes place. If the body is in a remote area, the post-mortem may take place in a local clinic or doctor's office if there is no hospital.
After the post-mortem, the doctor fills out a Post-Mortem Examination Report (Surat Keterangan Pemeriksaan Mayat). If foul play or other special circumstances surround the death, the police could ask for an autopsy.
Under normal circumstances, post-mortems are conducted very quickly in Indonesia. Nearly 90 percent of the population in Indonesia is Muslim and Muslim law states that the deceased must be buried by sunset on the day of death if possible. Almost all burials are performed within a 24-hour period.
After the post-mortem, the doctor completes a Doctor's Death Certificate (Surat Kematian). A copy has to be filed as part of the complete registration of death with the Populations and Civil Registration Administration (Kependudukan dan Pencatatan Sipil).
The body remains at the morgue until registration has been completed and the next of kin have made their arrangements.
If the deceased is a tourist, then the police make the report to the civil authorities, not the Consulate or the next of kin. A relative might have to provide information and appear in person to register the death with local administrators. As soon as the police have the deceased's passport and other personal identification, they will advise and direct the procedure. Relatives should follow their advice and direction.
If the deceased was an Indonesian resident, the deceased's neighbourhood administration office (Kepala Catatan Sipil) should be contacted at the same time as the body is moved to the morgue. The office is located in the neighbourhood where the deceased's residence is registered.
There is a form to be filled out which will most likely be written in Indonesian. Based on the information on the form, the office drafts a Letter of Notification of Death (Surat Laporan Kematian), a copy of which is given to the person who reported the death. This person must then give this letter to the Populations and Civil Registration Administration (Kependudukan dan Pencatatan Sipil).
Documents that may be required to register the death are:
- Deceased's passport
- Deceased's visa
- Police report verifying the death
Documents required might vary according to local custom.
Before drafting the Letter of Notification of Death, officials may also request one or more of the following documents to verify the deceased's true identity.
- Certificate of Registration of Permanent Resident (Surat Keterangan Pendaftaran Penduduk Tetap - SKPPT) for a foreigner who is a permanent resident or Certificate of Registration of Temporary resident (Surat Keterangan Pendaftaran Penduduk Sementara - SKPPS)
- Certificate of Domicile (Surat Keterangan Tempat Tinggal - SKTT)
- Certificate of Registration After Arrival from Abroad (Surat Keterengan Datang dari Luar Neger - SKDLN )
The SKPPT and SKPPS are issued by the neighbourhood administration office (Kepala Catatan Sipil). Foreign residents are issued one or the other based on their residency status. Bureaucratic practices vary across Indonesia. If there are problems in getting the Letter of Notification, go to the local police.
A fee may or may not be requested for issuing the Letter of Notification of Death.
Registration with the Populations and Civil Registration Administration
Registration with the Populations and Civil Registration Administration (Kependudukan dan Pencatatan Sipil) is required to obtain the Registration of Death (AKTA Kematian)
The Registration of Death (AKTA Kematian) is written in Bahasa Indonesian only and the following documents are required to obtain it:
- Letter of Notification of Death
- Post-mortem Examination (Surat Keterangan Pemeriksaan Mayat) and Letter of Notification of Death (Surat Laporan Kematian)
- Photocopy of the deceased's passport
- Deceased's residency card: either the Working Permit Visa (KITAS) or Permanent Residence Visa (Kartu Ijin Tinggal Tetap - KITAP), plus a photocopy
- Official police report
- Two witnesses for signing purposes, not below the age of 21
- Possibly a photocopy of the Report of Death from the foreign embassy
- Certificate of Registration of Permanent Resident (SKPPT) or Certificate of Registration of Temporary Resident (SKPPS)
- A form is filled out providing the information that will be included on the Registration of Death
The Registration of Death (Akta Kematian) has the following information:
- Date and place of registration
- Name, age and nationality of the deceased
- Name, address, occupation and relationship to the deceased of the person registering the death
- Names, addresses and occupations of the witnesses to the registration
- Registration number
If a relative or spouse of the deceased or a consular representative is present for the registration, one or more copies of the registration certificate are issued.
The Akta Kematian may be used for the following:
- Outside Indonesia it is a "Foreign Death Certificate"
- It states that the death took place in Indonesia
- It is used mainly for statistical purposes within Indonesia
- It has limited use outside the country and usually it is not accepted for insurance and estate purposes
There are fees associated with the entire procedure and exact costs vary according to region. Some offices may not charge anything. Hospital costs make up a significant portion, and the post-mortem and storage of the body make up a large portion of expenses.
Next of kin are responsible for payment; often the consulate compiles and delivers the bills, but each consulate is different. Consulates are responsible for explaining details to the next of kin, and when a foreign national is married to an Indonesian, either the spouse or the next-of-kin in the country of origin is expected to pay what is owed.
Repatriation of the Body
If a deceased foreigner has no family ties in Indonesia, the relevant consulate notifies next-of-kin in the home country. Consular services vary and next-of-kin should contact the deceased's consulate directly for information on repatriating a body.
Funerals in Indonesia
Next of kin can choose to have the deceased buried or cremated in Indonesia. Both are legal options.
It is the custom in Indonesia to bury or cremate the deceased very soon after death, although it is unlikely that Indonesian authorities would impose a strict time limit on next of kin who have to travel to Indonesia. Consult the relevant consulate for help.
If an Indonesian burial or cremation is chosen, the next of kin can choose a funeral company to handle details.
Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide
Neither euthanasia nor assisted suicide is legal in Indonesia.