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Repatriation of Mortal Remains


The Department, in collaboration with its Representatives abroad, provide logistical assistance and advice to the next of kin in the event of the death of a South African citizen abroad.

The Department will assist in the following:

  • obtaining a permit for importing mortal remains from the Department of Health
  • placing family members into contact with reputable undertakers, and
  • obtaining quotes for the transportation of the mortal remains and/or cremation and/or local burial, if so requested by the next of kin.
  • providing information on local conditions and procedures affecting the deceased.

Importing of mortal remains to South Africa

Strict laws and regulations govern the transportation of moral remains between countries. The requirements:

Non-infectious mortal remains:

  • The body must be embalmed. This must take place within 24 hours. Not all countries have embalming facilities;
  • The body must be sealed in an airtight container and placed in a sturdy non-transparent coffin;
  • The import permit must be obtained prior to transportation.

Infectious mortal remains:

  • The body must be placed in two a polythene bags;
  • The body must then be sealed in an airtight container and placed in a sturdy non-transparent coffin;
  • The coffin must stay sealed at all times;
  • Along with a together with the death certificate a written statement from the medical practitioner stating that the body will not constitute a danger to public health and that the body is screened off according to regulation o R2438 of 30 October 1987, paragraphs 9 and 10 must accompany the body at all times;
  • The import permit must be obtained prior to transportation. The South African Representative must provide the following documentation to the Department of Health before an import permit can be issued:
  • A letter containing:
    • name of the deceased,
    • date of death, country of death,
    • cause of death, place of burial,
    • telephone and area code.
  • Embalming certificate
  • Letter from attending pathologist or medical doctor to state that the deceased did not suffer from an infectious disease at the time of death; OR
  • If the deceased did suffer from an infectious disease, a letter from the medical practitioner indicating that the transportation will not constitute a danger to public health.
  • All documents not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation.

Only when all the requirements are met will the Department of Health issue an Import Permit.

No permit is required to import ashes of a cremated body.
The National Department of Health requires two working days to issue the importation permit.
The following documents are essential for importing (transporting):

  • A Death Certificate clearly stating the cause of death. A permit will not be issued if the cause of death is unknown. An autopsy report is required in the case of an infectious disease.
  • ID document / Passport
  • Embalming Certificate clearly stating in the case of:
    • Non-Infectious : That the remains were embalmed, sealed in an airtight container and placed in a sturdy non-transparent coffin.
    • Infectious : That the remains were embalmed, placed in two polythene bags, sealed in an airtight container and placed in a sturdy non-transparent coffin.
  • If embalming cannot be done due to religious reasons, a statement of the alternative solution ensuring the safe transport of the remains needs to be included.
  • A written statement from a medical practitioner that the remains will not constitute a danger to public health.
  • A non-infectious disease certificate.
  • Letter from the family member requesting importation.
  • If the documents are not in English, a certified translation must be attached.
  • A covering letter from the South African Representative that includes:
    • Name of deceased
    • Date of death
    • Cause of death
    • Country of death
    • Place of burial
    • Full contact numbers including dialling codes

Exporting of mortal remains to South Africa

This task has been delegated to the Provincial Departments of Health. It also includes the exhumation and exportation of mortal remains. The contact details per Province are:

Provence Official Telephone Cell phone E-mail
Western Cape Dr D Bass 021 483 4014 082 550 2612 Dbass@pgwc.gov.za
Gauteng Ms C Fingers 011 689 5541 083 963 0266 Cynthia.Fingers@gauteng.gov.za
Free State Ms L Janse van Runsburg 058 304 1247 JVRensE@fshealth.gov.za
North West Ms C Mhlanga 012 252 2355 076 391 8080 Cmhlanga@nwpg.gov.za
Limpopo M Mohapi 015 293 6199 078 457 9273 E-mail
Mpumulanga Mrs C Swart 013 766 3448 082 820 7950 Careens@social.mpu.gov.za
Kwazulu Natal Ms A Hargreaves 033 846 7506 033 846 7272 Antoinette.hargreaves@kznhealth.gov.za
Northern Cape Mr DJ Stander 053 830 0540 083 449 4322 dstander@ncpg.gov.za

Consular Services available to South Africans

Consular Services in the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, in close collaboration with the Consular Sections of South African Representatives abroad provides consular services to South African citizens who work, live and travel abroad. The Consular Services are available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

  • Telephone: (012) 351 1000 / +27 12351 1000 from outside SA
  • Fax: (012) 342 3370 or 342 9315
  • E-mail: opsroom@foreign.gov.za
  • E-mail: consular@foreign.gov.za
  • Web page: www.dfa.gov.za/consular/index.html
  • Physical Address: Tulbagh Park Office Complex, Eikendal Building, 1234 Church Street (corner Duncan), Colbyn, Pretoria
  • Postal Address: Chief Directorate: Consular Services Department of Foreign Affairs Private Bag X152 Pretoria 0001

When abroad:

Contact the South African embassy, high commission or consulate in the country you’re living or travelling in, or nearest to the country you’re living or travelling in

Cnr Nelson Mandela Avenue and Jan Jonker Street, Windhoek
Tel: + 264 61 205 7111

Plot 29, Queens Road, Gaborone
Tel: + 267 3904 800
Tel: + 267 3904 801

7 Elcombe Road, Belgravia, Harare
Tel: + 263 4 75 3147
Tel: + 263 4 75 3148

Avenida Eduardo Mondlane 41, Caixa Postal 1120
Tel: + 258 21 49 1614
Tel: + 258 21 49 0059

Cnr Kingsway & Old School Road Maseru
Tel: + 266 2231 5758

The New Mall, 2nd Floor, Dr Sishayi Road, Mbabane
Tel: + 268 404 4651
Tel: + 268 404 4652

In emergencies:

  • Correspond on behalf of South African citizens abroad with family and/or friends in South Africa;
  • Support in evacuation planning of South African citizens abroad in cases of political turmoil, natural or manmade disasters.
  • Provide non-financial assistance for repatriation and urgently needed medical or professional attention;
  • Liaise with the local authorities in the case of a missing persons and/or determine the whereabouts of South African citizens abroad;
  • Provide support services and advice in cases of hostage taking, kidnapping or abduction;
  • Support families under certain circumstances by facilitating the transfer of funds to family members in distress abroad.

Legal and Notary:

  • Facilitate the serving of legal summons on defendants abroad;
  • Convey requests for extradition, rogatory letters and evidence on commission between states;
  • Authenticate public documents for use between states;
  • Provide non-financial assistance to victims of crime;
  • In cases of abduction of South African children to foreign countries, provide guidance and support to the custodial parent/guardian, in collaboration with the Office of the Family Advocate where indicated;
  • Supply a list of local lawyers and/or detail of local Law Commissions;
  • Supply a list of local translators.

Services not rendered to South African citizens by the Consulate Office

  • Pay for cremations, burials or the repatriation of mortal remains to South Africa;
  • Secure a release from prison/detention;
  • Intervene in court and legal proceedings (in foreign countries);
  • Request local authorities to give preferential treatment to South Africans;
  • Investigate crimes or deaths;
  • Enforce a South African custody agreement abroad or compel a country to decide a custody case;
  • Pay hotel, legal, medical or any other bills;
  • Obtain accommodation, work or work permits;
  • Store personal effects or search for lost items;
  • Accept personal mail and parcels;
  • Formally assist dual nationals in the country of their second nationality.

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