Repatriating Human Remains Overseas

Sending human remains to other countries

Sometimes, when people die in Australia their family choose to send their body, ashes or other human remains overseas. This may be because that person was only temporarily staying in Australia (ie, on holiday), originally came from another country (ie, migrated to Australia), this was that person’s wish (ie, in the will) or a religious/cultural expectation, or simply the family’s decision. Regardless of the reasons for sending someone’s human remains overseas to another country, the process generally involves notarising various legal documents. This is to ensure that the proper health and regulatory steps have been followed according to the laws in Australia and of the destination country.

For example, official documents such as death certificates, travel documents and documents issued by the mortuary or crematorium regarding the treatment of the human remains must be notarised by a notary public. After those documents have been notarised, they must also be stamped with an apostille or be authenticated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and legalised by the foreign office of the intended destination country. In all cases, it is important to process these documents properly, and they must be in order to avoid issues and delays with customs or problems in breaching various health regulations.

Notary public working with funeral homes, mortuaries and crematoriums

Given the sensitive (and often urgent) nature of repatriating human remains, we have in the past worked closely with a number of mortuaries and crematoriums to ensure that all documents are notarised in a timely fashion. We can also assist clients with arranging for the apostille or the authentication with DFAT.

If you need our assistance in repatriating human remains overseas, especially if it needs to be done urgently, we recommend informing the mortuary or crematorium to help you to arrange for their paperwork to be completed and sent to us – or be available for us to be able to verify the information provided in documents that you provide to us. If you inform us of the intended destination country at the time you make your appointment for notary services, we can then advise you of the appropriate process that would need be undertaken and if you require our assistance the processing times and associated costs. We appreciate that this would be a difficult time for you to be trying to sort through these administrative issues but we can easily assist you with a little preparation and notice.

Notary public processing documents with DFAT for apostille or authentication

Depending on the destination country, we can also assist you with legalising all documents. This generally means arranging for the apostille if the intended destination country is a member of the Apostille Convention, just like Australia. Otherwise, arranging for authentication by DFAT in preparation for legalisation by the foreign representative office (ie, consulate or embassy) of the intended destination country.

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Do you have any questions regarding this article?

Whether you're notarising a document for the first time or the hundreth time, the requirements, processes, and terms can be confusing and daunting - or just a pain and a hassle (especially if you need an apostille, or to authenticate or legalise as well). Don't worry! We're here to simplify it, explain it, and help you with what you need to achieve it.

Contact us or visit our Frequently Asked Questions for more information about our notary public services. We've also created a flowchart to help explain notarisation, apostille, authentication and legalisation.

So, what's next?

Visit our Notary Fees page for a free quote for our notary public services or just call us on +61 2 9687 8885 to speak with our friendly team about your requirements.

Why choose Phang Legal for your notary public services?

We're a leading provider of notary public services in Sydney known for our experience and expertise in notarising documents for other countries, our low-cost fixed fees and service offering, and our availability to help on short notice. With our offices conveniently located in Parramatta, the geographic centre of the Sydney metropolitan area, we help clients from across Sydney and beyond with personal, professional and timely notary public services.

Ern Phang, Notary Public
Ern Phang
Notary Public

This website is maintained by Phang Legal, a boutique law firm in Parramatta and a leading provider of quality notary public services to satisfied clients across Sydney.

Ern Phang is a director of Phang Legal and a notary public (since 2005). Ern regularly writes about his experiences as a notary public and the issues faced by his clients in sending documents to other countries.

All information contained in this article is for general purposes only and correct at the time of publication. Only rely on information and advice specific to your situation and current at the time you wish to rely on it.