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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 Consulate.
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
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
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
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