Monday, 29 September 2014

Death Formalities for U.S. Citizens in Saudi Arabia

Death is a tragic incident which creates panic among the family members and close relatives of the deceased U.S. Citizen. However, what makes panic more critical is the lack of information in such cases. In this article, I will be explaining in detail the procedure you need to adopt after death of a U.S. Citizen in Saudi Arabia. Burying is only allowed after the procedure is complete. Please be noted that this article is particularly written for the U.S. Citizens. If you belong to some other nationality, I would suggest you to read the other article “Death Formalities for Expats in Saudi Arabia

Death of Non-Muslims in Saudi Arabia
It is vital to discuss here that U.S. Citizens with the faith of Muslim religion can be buried in Saudi Arabia. If some non-Muslim U.S. Citizen dies in Saudi Arabia, his body has to be sent back to USA. In order to transport the dead body, a death certificate issued by the Saudi Authorities is required. Moreover, permission of the U.S. embassy is also required in this regard. It is the responsibility of the sponsor of the deceased U.S. Citizen to take care of all the administrative processes and bear the burden of cost involved with it.

Procedure to be adopted in Case of Death of U.S. Citizen in Saudi Arabia
This procedure needs to be adopted by the legal heirs or friends, (whoever is taking care of funeral activities of deceased U.S. Citizen) in either case if the deceased U.S. Citizen is a Muslim or Non-Muslim.
  1. In case of death (at any place, whether at home or due to some road accident) the local police and ambulance should be called for immediately. Call 999 for Saudi Police Force and call 997 to call ambulance at the location. You should also contact U.S. Embassy in Riyadh to let them know about the death at (966)(11)-488-3800. We have already provided details of “Emergency Numbers in Saudi Arabia
  2. Police will make its report and Ambulance will perform its responsibilities according to the situation. If everything goes fine, body will be repatriated to the hospital morgue. At hospital, after checkup by a team of doctors, they will issue a death report. Obviously, you don’t need to call for police and ambulance if the patient is already in hospital.
  3. It is very important to communicate to the sponsor of the deceased U.S. Citizen in case of death. He is legally responsible for all the administrative processes as well as bearing the cost of repatriation to the native country. Hospital will make a list of all the belongings found in the dress of deceased U.S. Citizen and hand it over to his sponsor. Hospital will also handover to sponsor 4 envelops addressed to The morgue in the Hospital, Passport Office for Final Exit Visa, Airport Cargo Office (In case of repatriation of body to the native country) and Saudi Customs Office (In case of repatriation of body to the native country). The major mortuary in Riyadh is King Saud Medical Complex (Shumaisi Hospital), Al-Kabari Street, Shumaisi Area, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia   Phone:  011 435-5555.
  4. Sponsor will go along with death note from hospital and report from police to the Ministry of Health. They will check and issue a death report.
  5. Sponsor will have to go to the Ministry of Interior along with report issued by the Ministry of Health who will issue legal Death Certificate to the sponsor. Sponsor will have to take copies of passport and copy of Iqama of the deceased U.S. Citizen to the Ministry to get death certificate in Saudi Arabia.
  6. The sponsor now needs to contact the U.S. Embassy in order to get approval either for burying or for transferring body to the native country. Only after getting NOC from the U.S. Embassy, you can bury him in the land of Saudi Arabia.
  7. The body of the deceased U.S. Citizen must be embalmed at the mortuary. Embalming is required prior to any shipment outside of Saudi Arabia. Although the embalming facilities in Saudi Arabia do not meet American standards but they are enough for the international shipment. The Shumaisi Hospital charges 3,000 SR ($800 USD) for the embalmment of body. The price includes a wooden, metal-lined coffin suitable for international shipment. Please be noted that it is not allowed in Islam to burn the dead body. Saudi Government does not allow it to happen in Saudi land even if the deceased U.S. Citizen used to practice such religion where it is required.
  8. The End of Service Benefits for which deceased U.S. Citizen is entitled to must be given to the legal heirs of the deceased person. However, you will have to follow a certain procedure to get it. The procedure has been explained in this link “Death Compensation Procedure in Saudi Arabia
  9. Normally Cargo charges to different states of the USA for the repatriation of body of deceased U.S. Citizens on per KG basis. On average on body along with all the necessary things weighs around 120 Kg. The charges are listed below. It does not include the handling charges (Includes: Handling and Custom clearance, booking, pick-up and delivery to airport) SR 2,000. List of Cargo companies for the repatriation of bodies is given in this link. “List of Cargo Companies for the Repatriation ofDead Body
Riyadh to State
Rate / Kg
Total SR
New York
Los Angeles
Washington D.C

Requirements for the Repatriation of Body to USA
If body needs to be repatriated to the USA, sponsor should go to Jawazat and surrender the Iqama to get Final Exit visa. Following documents must be presented to transport the dead body to the respective country;
  1. Copy of the deceased's passport, including entry visa
  2. Copies of the deceased's Iqama (Residence Permit)
  3. Copy of the death certificate or death report (with English translation)
  4. Deceased's family home address, written in Arabic Language
  5. Medical report from the hospital with English translation
  6. Copy of Power of Attorney from the legal heir with Arabic translation (signed and attested by Notary Public)
  7. Police Report copy (only for unnatural deaths)
  8. A letter from the sponsor regarding dues of the deceased
  9. In order to repatriate the dead body, the legal heirs need to present an affidavit to the office of the native country of deceased person that they will collect the dead body immediately without any delay.
  10. U.S. Consular Mortuary Certificate issued by the U.S. Embassy
  11. All Arabic documents must be accompanied with an English translation certified by the Embassy.  Airlines require five (5) certified copies of all documents relating to the death, and a letter from the Forensic Medical Office/Morgue.  Because obtaining the necessary papers and translations is a complex and bureaucratic undertaking, the Embassy does provide extensive procedural guidance.

Related Articles
  1. List of Cargo Companies for Repatriation of Dead Body
  2. Death Formalities for Expats in Saudi Arabia
  3. Death Compensation Procedure in Saudi Arabia
  4. End of Service Benefits (ESB) Calculation
  5. Emergency Numbers in Saudi Arabia
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