Death and Dying in Turkey
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 Turkey...
It is mandatory to report a death in Turkey.
In the event of a death of a family member, friend or relative in Turkey, the first thing to do is to contact the local doctor who will certify the death and issue a death certificate (ölüm belgesi). If the doctor who certifies the death is satisfied that no suspicious circumstances exist and the death was due to natural causes, no further inquiries are held.
If a death occurred in suspicious circumstances or is that of a stranger, it should be reported to the Police (Tel: 155). The death certificate is then issued by the court.
Once a death certificate has been issued, it must be registered with the Population Registry Office (Nüfus Müdürlüğü) within a maximum of ten days. A full death certificate (Formul C) is then issued.
The body is kept at a morgue until burial or repatriation.
A death certificate can be issued by a hospital doctor, or a municipal doctor if the death did not occur at a hospital.
It must contain the following information:
- Relevant authority's seal or signature
- Doctor's name and surname
- Deceased's name and surname
- Cause of death
- Date of death
- Date of issue of the death certificate
To register the death with local authorities, proof of identity of the deceased and the death certificate must be presented. A death certificate does not replace a burial permit. A deceased person cannot be buried without a burial permit.
Once the death of a foreigner has been registered with the local authorities and a full Turkish death certificate (Formul C) is issued, it is possible to register the death at the deceased's home country consulate. The death certificate must be officially translated into the language of the deceased person's home country before registration can take place at a consulate. However, in some cases a multi-language version of the death certificate is issued by the local authorities.
A burial licence is required in order to be buried in Turkey, which is issued by a municipal doctor. Funeral parlours can assist with all necessary documents in order for a burial to take place. It is possible for non-Muslims to be buried in accordance with their religion. However, there are no facilities for cremation in Turkey.
The cost of a local burial varies from one municipality to another.
Repatriation of the Body
Repatriation of a body to the home country may require the help of the relevant local embassy or consulate. Consular officials can assist in having the remains returned, in obtaining appropriate documentation and in enquiring about Turkish exit requirements.
An application must be made to the Municipal Funeral Department (Belediye Cenaze Isleri) with an official transfer permit document from the consulate. The Municipal Funeral Department issues a travel permit document (yol izin belgesi) and burial licence (defin ruhsati) and seals the coffin. An export permit is then issued by a municipality doctor. A customs officer must then examine the coffin in the presence of a municipal doctor before issuing a customs certificate, and a laizzez passer certificate, allowing the deceased to be repatriated.
A certified English translation of the death certificate is also needed, if the death certificate is not multi-lingual.