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Death of a U.S. Citizen

Death of a U.S. Citizen

The Bureau of Consular Affairs will locate and inform the next-of-kin of the U.S. citizen’s death and provides information on how to make arrangements for local burial or return of the remains to the United States. The disposition of remains is subject to U.S. law, local laws of the country where the individual died, U.S. and foreign customs requirements, and the foreign country facilities, which are often vastly different from those in the United States.

The Bureau of Consular Affairs assists the next-of-kin to convey instructions to the appropriate offices within the foreign country, and provides information to the family on how to transmit the necessary private funds to cover the costs overseas. The Department of State has no funds to assist in the return of remains or ashes of U.S. citizens who die abroad. Upon issuance of a local death certificate, the nearest embassy or consulate may prepare a Consular Report of the Death of an American Abroad. Copies of that report are provided to the next-of-kin or legal representative and may be used in U.S. courts to settle estate matters.

A U.S. consular officer overseas has statutory responsibility for the personal estate of a U.S. citizen who dies abroad if the deceased has no legal representative or next-of-kin in the country where the death occurred, subject to local law.  In that situation the consular officer takes possession of personal effects, such as jewelry, personal documents and papers, and clothing.

The officer prepares an inventory of the personal effects and then carries out instructions from the legal representative or next-of-kin concerning the effects.

When reporting the death of a U.S. citizen to us, please be aware you will be asked to provide as much as possible of the following information relating to the deceased:

  • Name
  • Date and place of birth
  • Date and place of death (e.g. name and address of the hospital)
  • Cause of death (if known)
  • Most recent U.S. passport number
  • Social Security Number
  • Military I.D. number (if applicable)
  • Name and contact details of the next of kin
  • Most recent address in Samoa

You may reach us during normal working hours either by email ApiaConsular@state.gov or by phone (685) 21631 ext 2222. The Embassy emergency duty officer can be reached after working hours and on weekends by telephoning (685) 777 1776.

Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad

In order to assist you with legal matters that may arise as a result of the death of your relative, a Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad prepared by the US Embassy will be forwarded to you as soon as possible. It can generally be used in U.S. courts to help settle estate matters.

Twenty sealed copies of the Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad, issued at the time of death, will be provided to you free of charge.  The original will be sent to the Department of State for permanent filing.  If in the future you find that you need additional copies, they can be obtained for a fee of fifty dollars. If you need additional copies, please send a written request together with a check or money order made payable to the Department of State to the following address:

U.S. Department of State

Record Services Division

Vital Records Section


44132 Mercure Circle [DHL/FedEx/UPS]

P.O. Box 1213 [USPS]

Sterling, VA 20166-1213

Disposition of Remains Report