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Death of a U.S. Citizen

Death is a time of crisis for one’s family and friends no matter where it takes place. If death occurs overseas the experience can be even more traumatic, especially if the procedures involved are not clearly understood.

You will find information on funeral and repatriation procedures in our Disposition of Remains Report. (PDF –210KB)  In the event of the death of a U.S. citizen, the Embassy or Consulate will seek to work with the next of kin to ensure all relevant procedures run as efficiently as possible.

There are also several important things that the Next of Kin must do in conjunction with the Embassy or the Consulate. We stand ready to assist you with any of these steps at any point.

Reporting the death of a U.S. citizen

  • The death of any U.S. citizen should be reported immediately to local law enforcement authorities and to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate using the contact numbers below:
    Local emergency services (calling from within Kazakhstan):  102

    • U.S. Embassy Astana:  +7 7172 70-21-00
    • U.S. Consulate General Almaty:  +7 727 250-49-00/01
    • After hours, call the Duty Officer: +7-7172-70-2200

Notification of the next of kin

When a U.S. citizen passes away while abroad, we seek to carry out the wishes of the decedent’s next of kin.  Generally, the next of kin is considered to be the decedent’s spouse, adult child(ren), parent(s), or sibling(s).  In case the next of kin is not present with the U.S. citizen in Kazakhstan, we attempt to reach them via telephone or email.

Decisions to be made by the next of kin

Although Kazakhstani law does not stipulate that interred remains must be removed within a certain period of time, a scarcity of appropriate storage space creates pressure to dispose of remains as quickly as possible.  The following paragraphs outline the choices next of kin may face when navigating this process.

Generally, U.S. citizens who die in Kazakhstan can either be buried locally, or their remains can be embalmed and shipped overseas.

(a) Local interment

  • In Kazakhstan, burial is the most common means of disposing of a decedent’s remains.  The cost varies based on the funeral plot, the quality of the casket, and the nature of funerary proceedings.
  • The cost of shipping a decedent’s remains overseas varies based on casket, embalming and air transportation prices.  Notably, a licensed funeral home will need to collect the decedent’s remains upon arrival from Kazakhstan.

(b) Shipment and disposition of remains abroad

Your loved one’s remains will need to be received in the U.S. by a licensed funeral home. You will need to make arrangements for receipt of the remains and provide the funeral home contact information to the Embassy.

(c) Funds and instructions from the next of kin

In order to help efficiently facilitate the disposition of a U.S. citizen’s remains, the Embassy or Consulate will need to understand the wishes of the next of kin, and will require access to the necessary funds as soon as possible after a death occurs.

(d) Disposition of effects

In the absence of a legal representative, a consular officer will act as the provisional conservator of a U.S. decedent’s personal effects.  Where appropriate, the consular officer will retrieve such effects from police officials, hospital authorities, tour managers, or other individuals who may have had temporary custody of such effects.

The next of kin will need to provide instructions to the consular officer on how to proceed with transferring or disposing of the decedent’s personal effects.  In light of high international shipping costs, some family members opt to donate effects of low sentimental or commercial value to charity shops, or otherwise dispose of them.

(e) Local documents

A local death certificate must be obtained before the U.S. Embassy or Consulate can help facilitate the disposition of a U.S. citizen’s remains.

When a U.S. citizen dies in Kazakhstan, their death certificate will typically be transferred to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, which in turn transfers a copy of the certificate to the next of kin.

In addition to the death certificate, in the event that the next of kin chooses to ship a decedent’s remains abroad, the following documents will be required:

  • Authorization from the local sanitation/epidemiology authorities for the remains to be shipped abroad
  • Guarantee from the casket supplier stating that the casket contains only human remains
  • Consular Report of Death, issued by the Consular Section
  • Mortuary certificate, issued by the Consular Section
  • Copy of the decedent’s passport
  • Customs declaration

The local documents should be officially translated into English.

Consular Report of Death

When a U.S. citizen dies in Kazakhstan, the U.S. Embassy or Consulate will issue a Report of Death of a U.S. Citizen Abroad.  This certificate is based on the aforementioned Kazakhstani death certificate, and is valid for use in the United States.  In cases where the decedent’s remains are to be shipped abroad, the Consular section will also issue a mortuary certificate.

The U.S. Embassy or Consulate will transfer 20 copies of the Report of a U.S. Citizen abroad to the next of kin.  It will then transfer the original documents to the Department of State for permanent filing.

If more than 20 documents are required, family members can obtain more copies from the Department of State’s Vital Records Office.  For more information, please see the Consular Affairs website.

CDC requirements for importing human remains depend upon if the body has been embalmed, cremated, or if the person died from a quarantinable communicable disease.
At this time, COVID-19 is a quarantinable communicable disease in the United States and the remains must meet the standards for importation found in 42 Code of Federal Regulations Part 71.55 and may be cleared, released, and authorized for entry into the United States only under the following conditions:
The remains are cremated; OR
The remains are properly embalmed and placed in a hermetically sealed casket; OR
The remains are accompanied by a permit issued by the CDC Director. The CDC permit (if applicable) must accompany the human remains at all times during shipment.
Permits for the importation of the remains of a person known or suspected to have died from a quarantinable communicable disease may be obtained through the CDC Division of Global Migration and Quarantine by calling the CDC Emergency Operations Center at 770-488-7100 or emailing dgmqpolicyoffice@cdc.gov.
Please see CDC’s guidance for additional information.