Disposition of Remains Report
Disposition of Remains Report for Ireland 2020
Registration of Death
Records of deaths in Ireland are held in the General Register Office, which is the central civil repository for records relating to births, marriages, and deaths in Ireland. Deaths must be registered as soon as possible and no later than three months after the death. Deaths are usually registered by the next of kin or a close relative. The registrar will require a Death Notification Form that states the cause of death. The doctor who attended to the deceased during their last illness will sign this form. The person registering the death must complete Part 2 of the Death Notification Form and sign the register in the presence of the registrar.
Before they can certify the Death Notification Form, a doctor must be satisfied about the cause of death. If a doctor did not see the deceased at least 28 days before the death occurred, or if they are not satisfied about the cause of death, the doctor must inform a Coroner who will decide if a postmortem examination (autopsy) is necessary. There may be a delay in registering a death when a postmortem examination is conducted. The death is automatically registered when an inquest or postmortem examination is held at the request of the Coroner. The Coroner issues a certificate to the Registrar containing all the details to be registered.
A coroner is an independent official who has the legal responsibility for the investigation of sudden and unexplained deaths. The Coroner’s role is to enquire into the circumstances of sudden, unexplained, violent, and unnatural deaths. This may require a postmortem examination (autopsy), sometimes followed by an inquest. The postmortem is carried out by a pathologist, who acts as the Coroner’s agent for this purpose. The coroner’s inquiry initially is concerned with establishing whether or not death was due to natural causes. A coroner is not permitted to consider civil or criminal liability; the coroner must simply establish the facts.
In situations where a medical certificate of the cause of death is not available, the coroner will arrange for a postmortem examination of the body. If the postmortem examination shows that death was due to natural causes, and there is no need for an inquest, a Coroner’s Certificate will be issued to the General Register Office who will then register the death and issue the death certificate. If death is due to unnatural causes, the coroner is obliged to hold an inquest. The death will be registered by means of a Coroner’s Certificate when the inquest is concluded (or adjourned in some cases). Information on obtaining a death certificate, including an application form and the appropriate fee, may be found on the Health and Human Services website at https://www2.hse.ie/services/births-deaths-and-marriages/get-certificates/ordering-certificates.html.
Maximum period Before Burial of Remains
Irish law does not place a time limit on burial. Remains are held at a mortuary pending receipt of the next of kin’s instructions. There is no fee by the mortuary for storage of remains for a reasonable time period. However, some morgues have limited storage that may affect the length of time remains can be kept.
The usual method of embalming is a full arterial embalming in accordance with the requirements of the British Institute of Embalmers (BIE) for repatriating human remains. The next of kin is encouraged to contact their chosen funeral director to resolve any concerns about embalming and/or to advise if, for religious or other reasons the deceased should not be embalmed.
There are six crematoria in Ireland, three in Dublin, and one each in Cork, Cavan, and Shannon. Access to these cremation facilities is not restricted to people living in these areas.
A medical referee at the crematorium must be satisfied that the next of kin or executor gave written permission for the cremation to take place and the attending doctor viewed the body before and after the death and completed the medical certificate and the necessary form stating that there is no reason why the body should not be cremated. The attending doctor is required to examine whether the death should be referred to the Coroner.
There may be difficulties in arranging an immediate cremation if the cause of death is unclear. In such cases, a coroner may complete a Coroner’s Cremation Certificate that will allow the cremation to go ahead.
The next of kin can choose the appropriate casket for cremation. However, Irish crematorium regulations require that only combustible materials are used in the manufacture of coffins for use in cremation.
Caskets and Containers
Caskets, coffins, and air tray units that are suitable for cremation, local burial, and/or international shipment of remains are available and supplied by the nominated Irish funeral director.
Exportation of Human Remains
These can usually be arranged within 5 working days. Under United States Public Health Service Regulations, airtight body shipping cases (i.e. Ziegler Unit) are acceptable for shipment of embalmed remains into the United States. The funeral director must make an appointment to visit the Embassy once they have completed travel arrangements and compiled the necessary paperwork. To facilitate the export of whole remains from Ireland to the United States, the Embassy prepares a Consular Mortuary Certificate which includes flight details, consignee information and incorporates the following documents:
1. An original Irish death certificate or the Coroner’s Interim Certificate of the Fact of Death, in lieu of an Irish death certificate;
2. An affidavit from the funeral director stating that the remains have been properly prepared and packed for repatriation;
3. An embalming certificate;
4. The Coroner’s “Out of State Order” permitting the removal of the remains from Ireland and their declaration confirming the remains are free from infectious disease.
Exportation of Cremated Remains/Ashes
Cremated remains may be exported if they are accompanied by an original death certificate and the cremation certificate. An “Out of State Order” from the Coroner is also advisable. Post is not aware of any courier companies who will carry ashes. Airline passengers carrying cremated remains to the United States should declare the nature of the package to U.S. and Irish customs and the airline and use a sealed, nonmetallic urn to allow for security screening.
The following fee schedules include cost estimates for interment in Ireland and repatriation of deceased’s remains and cremated remains from Ireland to the USA. Costs are based on the exchange rate of January 31, 2020: $1.00 Dollar = €0.909 Euro.
A. Local Burial: $6,400
Estimated cost that includes funeral director’s fees, coffin, legal documentation/certificates, transportation of remains to a cemetery, and burial at local cemetery. The overall cost is subject to the availability of a pre-owned/family burial plot. The cost of purchasing a burial plot varies hugely depending on the location in Ireland. A new plot costs at least approximately $3,000.
B. Cremation and Disposition in Ireland: $5,100
Estimated cost that includes funeral director’s fees, coffin, legal documentation/certificates, and transportation of remains to crematorium, cremation fees, and disposition of ashes.
C. Preparation and Shipment of Embalmed Remains to USA:
East Coast (e.g. New York): $5,100
West Coast (e.g. San Francisco): $5,300
Mid-West (e.g. Chicago): $5,400
D. Preparation and Shipment of Cremated Remains to USA: $5,100
Estimated cost that includes funeral director’s fees, coffin, legal documentation/certificates, cremation fees, and shipment costs.
Please note: All prices quoted above are approximate figures based on estimations provided by local funeral directors and are subject to change.
Exhumation and Shipment
Remains may be exhumed once the consent of local authorities has been obtained. A local funeral director can arrange for the exhumation and shipment of remains. The cost of exhumation is approximately $6,900 and shipment of exhumed remains would be approximately $7,200; however, this cost greatly varies as each cemetery, county, city, and local health authorities will charge different fees for the various documents and permissions required. Additionally, the costs for shipment of exhumed remains may be more costly than a regular casket.
Required Documentation: A license to exhume from the local authorities; permission from the local Coroner and/or a Warrant to Exhume; and authorization to exhume from the family/owner of the original grave are required. An exhumation must be supervised by an Environmental Health officer.
Autopsies (Postmortem Examination)
A doctor must be satisfied about the cause of death before they can certify the prerequisite Death Notification Form. If a doctor did not see the deceased at least 28 days before the death occurred, or if they are not satisfied about the cause of death, the doctor must inform a coroner who will decide if an autopsy (postmortem) is necessary.
A postmortem examination is a thorough medical examination performed by a pathologist to establish the medical cause of death. It is usually performed within 72 hours after the death.
Following the postmortem examination, the body will normally be released to the next-of-kin immediately after the examination has been completed. Although the need for a postmortem will not usually delay the funeral, the results may not be available for some time. In situations where a toxicology (drug) screen is required, it may be several months before the postmortem report is fully completed.
The death is automatically registered when an inquest or postmortem examination is held at the request of the coroner. The coroner issues a certificate to the registrar containing all the details to be registered.
Local Customs Regarding Funerals, Disposition of Remains, Mourning, and Memorial Services:
Burial normally takes place within 2 to 3 days of death following the release of the deceased’s remains. It is customary to have a viewing of the body at either the hospital mortuary, a funeral home, or infrequently, at the deceased’s home, either on the evening of the death or the next day. A priest or minister may offer prayers for the deceased at the viewing. The tradition of holding a wake, a gathering of family or friends to celebrate the life of the deceased is still widespread in rural areas and less frequently, in the cities. Burial or cremation usually takes place after a morning mass or service, after which it is customary for the family to offer refreshments to the mourners at a nearby venue. Mourners frequently bring condolence cards and wreaths, but families commonly request donations to a local charity in lieu of flowers. Books of condolences in which mourners can express sympathy are common at all such services.
It is traditional to hold a memorial service, often referred to as the “Month’s Mind,” one month after the date of death, and again to remember the deceased at a service one year after the date of death.
Lists of funeral directors and related services in Ireland may be found on the website of the Irish Association of Funeral Directors: www.iadf.ie and at http://www.rip.ie/. The quality of services available is on par with that which might be expected in the U.S..
DISCLAIMER: The U.S. Embassy Dublin assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, persons or firms. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the funeral directors, morticians and other service providers.