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Bereavement in Crete - Practical Information
Death involving non-Greek Nationals
The following information regarding the practical arrangements you will need to make in the case of a death in
Greece is provided by the British Embassy Athens and the British Consulate in Crete.
The information is also relevant to other Nationalities, who can also obtain help from their relevant Embassy or
Consular staff are aware that practical problems in the death of a friend or relative abroad make for even greater
distress and the Consulates in Crete are ready to help in any way that they can.
What to Do in the Event of a Death & Who to call
If the deceased was being treated by a local doctor who is willing to come to the house, then he/she can be called
to confirm death, otherwise an ambulance should be called to confirm the death.
But ambulances will not carry deceased persons from private property such as homes/hotels, only from public
places (such as after a road accident), so after a doctor or paramedics have confirmed a death, a funeral director
should be called to transport the deceased to the nearest hospital.
If there are any suspicious circumstances or indication of suicide then the police should also be called.
Local Funeral Directors
A list of funeral directors in Crete is available here
Those listed are all experienced in dealing with foreigners and will have someone available who can speak English.
There are also many other funeral directors who will organise a local burial efficiently. However, for repatriations,
they have to be experienced in this
Again, this list may not be comprehensive, but includes all those whom the UK international undertakers deal with.
As regards costs, ask when they require payment; some expect money upfront.
Other Standard Procedures
Following the death of a British national (or other non-Greek national) in Greece, next of kin, or a formally
appointed representative, must decide whether to repatriate the deceased, or carry out a local burial. Cremation is
not yet available in Greece. Consular staff will pass on to the Consulate overseas the wishes of the next of kin
about disposal of the body.
Under Greek law, a deceased person must be buried within one month of death. However, in the case of foreign
nationals the authorities will normally allow as much time as necessary. The death must however be registered
within 3 days.
If the deceased was covered by travel insurance, it is important for next of kin to contact the insurance company
without delay. If there is no insurance cover, the cost of repatriation or burial will need to be met by the family.
Neither the Foreign and Commonwealth Office nor our Consulates in Greece have budgets to meet these costs
(non British nationalities check with your Embassy or Consulate).
It is important to remember that if the deceased was travelling with a tour operator, they can be a valuable source of
assistance and advice.
Registering the death
1 Obtained a medical certificate of death, ΙΑΤΡΙΚΟ ΠΙΣΤΟΠΟΙΗΤΙΚΟ ΘΑΝΑΤΟΥ, from the hospital or doctor.
2 You or the funeral director take this it to the town hall to obtain a certificate that will allow the burial.
3. After the burial collect the death certificate, ΛΗΞΙΑΡΧΙΚΗ ΠΡΑΞΗ ΘΑΝΑΤΟΥ from the town hall.
If next of kin choose to proceed with a local burial, they will need to instruct a local funeral director.
Agios Nikolaos, Heraklion, Rethymnon and Chania have municipal cemeteries where any nationality/faith can be
buried. The cemeteries in other places are usually owned by the church so it is at their discretion who they allow to
be buried there. In our experience in recent years, if a UK citizen has been resident in the area for some time and
there is room in the cemetery, permission for burial is usually granted. The funeral director will liaise with whoever is
responsible for the cemetery if necessary.
If the deceased was covered by travel insurance, the insurance company will normally appoint an International
funeral director to arrange repatriation. If the deceased is not covered by insurance, next of kin will need to appoint
an International funeral director themselves. The International funeral director will liaise with local undertakers to
ensure that all necessary requirements are met in Greece.
When the deceased is to be repatriated, the remains must be embalmed and placed in a zinc-lined coffin. Local
undertakers in Greece are equipped to carry out these procedures. A local civil registry death certificate, plus the
doctor's death certificate (indicating cause of death), a certificate of embalming, and a certificate giving permission
to transfer the remains is required to ship the body. This will be arranged by the international funeral director.
In certain circumstances repatriation may not always be possible. Our consular staff will try and inform next of kin as
soon as possible if this is the case.
Funeral directors who deal with repatriations will give a price which includes all costs for transportation and
preparation of the deceased, paperwork and translations - everything necessary from collecting the deceased to
delivering him/her to the airport. Relatives need to give them details of the UK funeral directors to collect the
deceased at the UK airport.
In the event of a death in Greece, the Examining Magistrate will consider the evidence. If the circumstances of the
death were not unusual, registration of the death is permitted and the body will be released for repatriation or
burial. However, if the Examining Magistrate is not satisfied after the preliminary examination, an autopsy may be
required. Further investigations and interviews with witnesses may also be called for before a decision is made as to
cause of death.
In cases of accident or misadventure, a report of the Examining Magistrate’s findings will be issued and experience
has shown that this can take several months. However, if death was caused by a criminal act, the police will be
ordered to conduct a full investigation. The State Prosecutor will then decide whether to prosecute.
Autopsies are carried out by court appointed doctors with forensic qualifications. During an autopsy, organs can be
removed for testing at the discretion of the doctor, without consent of next of kin. Next of kin are not informed about
the removal of any organs. The deceased’s body can be buried or repatriated before tests on removed organs are
completed. Any organs removed are retained for the duration of the tests, after which they are destroyed.
Should the next of kin have a request that any organs removed are returned they must apply for a court order. The
British Embassy Athens (and other Embassies) can advise on the procedures to be followed. If the deceased’s body
has been repatriated, next of kin should contact their undertaker in the UK (or other country) to proceed with the
request for the return of any organs removed.
Organs cannot be removed for any purpose other than testing without prior consent of the deceased (for research)
or next of kin (transplants).
Consular Death Registration - British Citizens
There is no obligation for the death overseas of a British national to be registered with the British Embassy.
However, there are the advantages that a British form of death certificate is then available, and that a record of the
death is afterwards held at the General Register Office in the UK.
To apply from within the UK, you should contact Nationality and Passports Section of Consular Directorate, Old
Admiralty Building, London SW1A 2AF Tel: +44 20 7008 0186. If you are applying from Greece, you should contact
the nearest Consulate.
Contacts in Crete
British Vice Consul
Candia Tower, 17 Thalita Street, Agios Dimitrios Square, 71 202 Heraklion
Tel: (0030) 2810 224012
Fax: (0030) 2810 243935
Open to the public: Monday to Friday, 08.30hrs - 13.30hrs
The British Embassy and all Consulates in Greece have an English-speaking Duty Officer who is available for help
and advice regarding consular emergencies out of office hours. They can be contacted by phoning +30 210 7237
727 in the first instance. The Duty Officer will respond to emergency calls within one hour.
Contacts in UK
Consular Directorate - Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Greece and Greek Islands Desk
Tel: +44 20 7008 0141
International Funeral Directors in the UK.
Co-Operative Funeral Services
119 Paisley Road
Glasgow G5 8RL Tel: +44 141 3086217
Fax: +44 141 4294169 email: email@example.com
Kenyon Air Transportation
81 Westbourne Grove
London W2 4UL Tel: +44 20 7258 1130
Fax: +44 20 7243 3125 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
13 The Broadway, Gunnersbury Lane
London W3 8HR Tel: +44 20 8993 8767
Rowland Brothers International
299-305 Whitehorse Rd
Croydon CR0 2HR Tel: +44 20 8684 2324
Fax: +44 20 8684 8000 email: email@example.com
National Association of Funeral Directors
618 Warwick Road
Solihull B91 1AA Tel: +44 121 711 1343
Fax: +44 121 711 1351 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note that the listing of the companies above does not represent FCO endorsement of their services.
Article source and further information: British Embassy Athens
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General Information - Bereavement