Death and Dying in Vietnam

Information on how to proceed if you need to report the death of a family member in Vietnam. Also information on the repatriation of remains...

In the event of the death at home of a family member, friend or relative in Vietnam the first thing to do is to call an ambulance and contact the nearest police station. After the death has been recorded by the police, the body of the deceased is then taken to a hospital with a licence to treat foreigners. A letter/declaration of death is then issued by the hospital.

If the death occurs within a hospital, the institution issues a report on the death. The body of the deceased is then taken to a morgue pending funeral or shipment arrangements.

According to Vietnamese law, the family should obtain a Diplomatic Note from their consulate detailing their wishes regarding the disposition of the remains (burial, cremation, repatriation).

Registering a Death

The local police of the ward in which the deceased resided must be notified in order for funeral or shipment arrangements to be made. If the person died at home the letter/declaration of death must be verified and stamped by the local police. This stamped declaration should then be presented to the local Department of Justice, which issues a Vietnamese Death Certificate.

The Justice Department sends a copy of the death certificate to the Consulate Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who then notify the consulate of the deceased’s home country.

After the death has been registered the emergency services number of the deceased’s embassy or consulate should be contacted to notify them of the death, and also the municipal office of the Department of Immigration.


If the death occurred in suspicious circumstances an autopsy and police investigation is generally required. However, it is possible to apply for the post-mortem requirement to be waivered by obtaining a Diplomatic Note from the deceased’s consulate stating that it has no objection to the waiver of autopsy and asking for permission for the family to handle the disposition of remains. This note must be sent by the consulate to the local government External Relations Office (ERO). A permit for burial or cremation is then issued by the authorities.

Repatriation of a Foreigner

The local embassy or consulate can be very helpful when arranging the repatriation of a deceased person to their home country. They can provide assistance with the required paperwork, negotiate Vietnamese exit requirements and arrange transport of the body. Local funeral services can also help organise repatriation.

The family must complete a quarantine permit application form (obtained at the International Quarantine Service).

  • International Quarantine Service (Department of Health)
    At: 40 Nguyen Van Troi, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City
    Tel: (08) 38440155 / (08) 38445306 / (08) 38440157

Other documents required for repatriation include:

  • Death certificate
  • Letter/declaration of death issued by the hospital
  • Consular Mortuary Certificate issued by the consulate
  • Customs Certificate issued by the Customs Office
  • Laissez-Passer for Human Remains issued by the External Relations Office

It can take between five and ten working days before remains can be transported.