Death and Dying in Thailand
How to proceed if you need to report the death of a family member in Thailand; find out about repatriation of remains for a burial or cremation outside Thailand...
At a difficult time there are a number of procedures and formalities that must be observed, and these may be quite different from those in the native country. This page gives an overview of the procedures following a death in Thailand.
Any death of a foreign national or Thai citizen must be reported to the police within 24 hours. In the case of foreign nationals, the police will inform the appropriate Embassy and the next of kin or representative will be notified.
The body will be sent to the Examining Magistrate's office to determine cause of death.
If the cause of death is not determined to be unusual or suspicious, the body is released to the family within two to three days and a death certificate issued.
If the cause of death is unusual or the result of a suspected criminal act an autopsy will be performed and there will be a delay in releasing the body.
When the body is released, both a civil registry death certificate and a doctor's death certificate stating cause of death will be issued.
Any expenses for medical treatment or a hospital stay must be paid before the body can be released.
In general bodies are cremated in Thailand; burial in Thailand is not customary and is expensive. The process is also very lengthy.
Funeral directors in Thailand are likely to have at least one English-speaking member, and there are many international funeral directors available to assist with repatriation if desired.
If cremation is chosen the body is sent to the temple. There is no formal or specific timeframe for cremation.
The ashes can be:
- Kept in a chedi in the local temple
- Scattered in Thailand
- In the case of foreign nationals they can be:
- carried back to the deceased's home country with the help of an international funeral director
- shipped back to the home country, if it is not possible for the next of kin or representative to come to Thailand. The Embassy and local undertaker can make the necessary arrangements and process the paperwork
Repatriation of the Body
If the deceased was covered by insurance then the insurance company will usually be able to make all the arrangements for repatriation with an international funeral director. If the deceased did not have insurance, relatives should contact the appropriate Embassy who will assist with appointing an international funeral director.
The body must be embalmed and placed in a zinc-lined coffin. The international funeral director can take care of these arrangements as they have special caskets that are approved by Thailand Customs as well as other countries' Customs. This process usually takes up to 10 days.
The following documents are required:
- Civil death certificate
- Doctor's death certificate
- Certificate of embalming
- Certificate of permission to transfer the remains
Usually the home country's Embassy can supply covering letters for their own Customs offices and can also provide certified translations of the death certificate, if necessary.
Note: Recent changes to flight security means that many airlines are no longer prepared to carry closed coffins.
If the person had insurance, the insurance company will need to be contacted and given a copy of the doctor's report and the local death certificate.
- Embassy Information: Locate any country's Embassy in Thailand