Death of a U.S. Citizen

Death is a difficult experience for one’s family and friends no matter where it takes place. When death occurs overseas the experience can be even harder, especially if the procedures involved are not clearly understood. To read the annual report of disposition of remains, please read our Disposition of Remains Report – Burma.

American Citizen Services (ACS) is ready to assist family and friends in the event of the death of a U.S. Citizen in Burma.  Our services include:

  • Finding and notifying the Next-of-Kin of the deceased
  • Acting as a liaison with local police, hospital and mortuary authorities
  • Arranging for the disposition and repatriation of remains
  • Coordinating administrative and financial requirements
  • Assisting in the collection and return of personal effects to Next-of-Kin
  • Issuing a “ Report of Death of American Citizen Abroad” .

Please also see the Department of State’s website for more information about our services.

The local authorities inform the Embassy upon the death of a U.S. Citizen anywhere in Burma.  We locate the Next-of-Kin of the deceased and contact the individual as quickly as possible. There are several important things that the Next-of-Kin must do in conjunction with the ACS office. These include:

  • Returning a signed and notarized “ Affidavit of Next-of-Kin(here)
  • Choosing the method of disposition of remains
  • Arranging payment of mortuary and related expenses in Burma
  • Deciding what to do with the personal possessions of the deceased

To act on the family’s behalf, the Embassy must have a signed, notarized copy of a document called an “Affidavit of Next-of-Kin.” (here)  This form is critical because it shows us who is entitled to make the decisions regarding the deceased. Families should initially fax or scan and email us a completed copy, and then mail the original.

Next-of-Kin are established in the following order:

  1. Spouse
  2. Children
  3. Parents
  4. Siblings
  5. Grandparents

When a U.S.  Citizen dies in Burma, the body is usually preserved until an autopsy can be performed and instructions are received from the Embassy or the Next-of-Kin regarding disposition of remains.    The Burmese Government requires that autopsies be conducted on all foreigners who die in country.  There are normally three options regarding the disposition of remains:

  • Cremation in Burma and shipment for internment in the U.S. or other location
  • Embalming in Burma and shipment to U.S. or other location for internment or burial
  • Cremation or embalming, and burial in Burma

Please note, shipment of remains is only possible from Rangoon International Airport.

We work with local providers to ensure the wishes of the Next-of-Kin are carried out as quickly and professionally as possible. However, in most cases, embalming and mortuary services in Burma may fall short of standards expected in the United States. A funeral director in the U.S. should be consulted to determine the advisability of viewing the remains and of conducting an open casket funeral.

DISCLAIMER: The U.S. Embassy Rangoon assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the following persons or firms. Names are listed alphabetically, and the order in which they appear has no other significance. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the funeral directors, morticians and other service providers.

AsiaOne International Repatriation
c/o Unlimited Express (Myanmar Co. Ltd)
Room 1003 10th floor Yuzana Condo Tower
No 69 Shwe Goen Daing Rd, Bahan Township
Rangoon
Mac Loh tel: +65 96313729  (24/7)
San Lin tel: +95 9 511 2152
Office Tel: +95 1-558 660
Fax: +95 1-558 664
Email: info@asiaonemyanmar.com Website: www.asiaone-thf.com

SOS International Clinic
Dusit Inya Lake Resort
37 Kaba Aye Pagoda Road
Yangon
Tel: +95 1 657 922 or +95 1-657 940
Fax: +95 1 667 866
Website: https://www.internationalsos.com/locations/asia-pacific/myanmar

Yangon General Hospital Mortuary
No 262 Merchant Street
Rangoon
Tel: +95 1-256 112 ext 875

Yayway Cemetary
North Okklapa Township
Rangoon
Tel: +95 – 1-701 123/ +95 9-731-67881
Contact : U Tun Aung Kyaw/U San Shein

YMCA
No 263 Mahabandoola Street
Botataung Township
Rangoon
Tel: +95 -1- 294109, 294128, 203027
Fax: +95-1-295 848
Email: yangonymca@myanmar.com.mmyangonymca@mptmail.net.mm

Autopsies are required for deaths of all non-Burmese citizens and are at the expense of the deceased’s family. Although initial results take a few days, full autopsy results are not available for up to two months after the completion of the examination. Autopsy results will likely fall far short of the standard expected in the United States.

Because of many factors, it is best to have flexibility regarding dates for funeral ceremonies in the United States until our office can confirm the exact date the remains will arrive in the United States. It takes time to perform an autopsy, to embalm or cremate the body, to prepare remains for shipment, and to prepare all the necessary documents.

It usually takes at least 7 to 10 days from the date of death for the arrival of the remains in the United States, longer if the remains are to be cremated and mailed to the U.S.

The deceased’s family or legal representative must pay all funeral home expenses and shipping costs of the remains and any personal effects.  Families without a personal representative present in Burma can set up an “Overseas Citizens Services Trust” with the Department of State.  We use the money in this account to pay expenses on behalf of the deceased’s family.  We can coordinate all aspects of mortuary services under this arrangement.
Costs listed below are estimates, based on deaths with no unusual circumstances and should be considered for guidance purposes only and are current as of November 2015.

  • To have remains returned to the U.S. for burial, the cost for embalming and air shipment is approximately $9000.
  • The cost for cremation and air shipment of ashes is approximately $5000.

By law, the Department of State cannot carry out instructions on the disposition of the remains until we have received the required funds.  There are several methods for sending money to the Department of State to set up an Overseas Citizens Services Trust.  See instructions on Sending Money to U.S. Citizens Overseas.

There will normally be an interval of at least seven days between receipt of funds and shipment of the remains.

After all the mortuary and shipping expenses have been received and paid, we will conduct an itemized accounting of final costs and refund any balance in the trust by a United States Treasury check.

The Embassy can, depending on the circumstances, take charge of personal effects and possessions of the deceased if instructed to do so by the Next-of-Kin. This may not be necessary if the deceased has a friend, employer, or family member present in Burma at the time of death.

We will conduct a thorough inventory of any personal effects and send a copy to the Next-of Kin. We can send the family any items they wish to have returned at the family’s expense through the United States Postal Service; however, computers or other electronic items may be difficult or impossible to mail due to international mailing restrictions.  Most families decide to donate items of little sentimental or monetary value (clothing, suitcases, kitchenware, etc.) to a local charity in order to avoid the large expense involved in returning these items to the United States. The Embassy will gladly arrange for this charitable donation on the family’s behalf.

If the death occurs outside of Rangoon, and consular staff are not present, the inventory may be taken by local authorities. Consular staff will endeavor to preserve the personal effects of the deceased, but cannot be responsible for any losses that occur.

In cases where the estate of the deceased exceeds $1000, the Embassy will require more detailed legal documents, such as Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration, prior to releasing money or effects to the Next-of-Kin.

The “Consular Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad” is an official report, in English, that provides the essential facts concerning the death of a U.S. Citizen. It functions in much the same way as a death certificate issued in the United States and can be used to settle bank accounts, insurance policies and other estate matters.

This report can be issued only after the Burmese authorities complete their documentation of the death. This process can take several weeks to be completed.  Several original copies of the Consular Report of Death Abroad report will be sent to the Next-of-Kin. Families may order additional certified copies from the Department of State for a fee.

Families will thus receive up to three sets of documents from the Embassy:

  • Twenty original copies of  “ Consular Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad” (free)
  • An original Burmese Death Certificate with a translated English copy (at the family’s expense)
  • An original Autopsy Report with a translated English copy  (at the family’s expense, takes 3-4 months to complete)