A Death while on Holiday Overseas

Family “A” contacted Canterbury Christian Funeral Services (CCFS) late one evening to inform us they had just received word that their mother had suffered a heart attack and had passed away unexpectedly whilst on a cruising holiday in Europe. Their immediate concerns were the difficulties with.

Not knowing what to do next,

How to overcome the language barrier,

What rules and regulations they needed to adhere to in order to get their mother home to NZ.

Unfortunately for many families this is not an uncommon occurrence and we tend to deal with several of these cases every year so the procedures from a Funeral Directors perspective is well established and set out.

One of the first things we need to know is
Who or what entity has jurisdiction of the deceased, i.e. where is the deceased?

Is the deceased in a hospital or a Funeral home?

Have the New Zealand authorities been informed? If not; is there a consulate or an embassy that can provide local support etc?

Once the answers to these basic questions are known we can generally liaise with the appropriate individuals and organizations to either bring the deceased’s body back to New Zealand or arrange a cremation and the subsequent return of the deceased’s ashes to the family.

We will (in most cases) work with the local funeral director to arrange for the appropriate preservation (full arterial embalming) and transport via air transport back to New Zealand. As New Zealand is a tourist destination, we are often involved in the process from the other side of the equation and are able to help the local funeral director with paperwork, shipping regulations and other legal matters.

Once we have received the deceased back onto New Zealand soil we will assess the deceased’s body to ensure that everything has been completed to our exacting New Zealand standards before either bringing in the family for viewing or returning the deceased home to lie in state.

(New Zealand is one of a few countries in the world to commonly practice hygienic preservation or embalming. Consequently we find that work completed overseas is not as professional as we are used to here and in some situations will need further intervention by our highly skilled mortuary team.)

Once the deceased is back in New Zealand then the funeral will proceed as per a normal arrangements.