Navigating the Process: A Guide to Reporting the Death of a UK Citizen Abroad 

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Navigating the Process: A Guide to Reporting the Death of a UK Citizen Abroad 

Guide to Reporting the UK resident's death aborad

For families in the UK, losing a loved one can be an incredibly difficult and overwhelming experience. If the death occurs overseas, matters become even more complex, with questions about locating documents and communicating with authorities abroad arising. In such cases, it can seem daunting to report a family member’s death overseas properly.  

Related: What to do when an expat dies in Thailand 

However, we are here to support those affected by providing information on who they should notify within the UK when a British citizen tragically passes away outside of its borders. With this helpful guide, we hope to make what is already a very traumatic event a little bit easier for all concerned. 

Related: What to do when an expat dies in Hong Kong 

Although this guide is for people from the UK, the basic rules should apply for each Nationality, with exceptions to what is needed in the home country concerned and ways of reporting. This guide will cover what needs to be reported and who needs to be informed in the UK for UK Citizens. 

Main departments to notify of the UK citizen’s death

  • HM Customs and Revenue
  • National Insurance Contribution Office
  • Department of Work and Pensions
  • Personal, Workplace and Armed Forces Pensions
  • Vehicle and Driving Licenses
  • HM Passport Office (HMPO)
  • HM Passport Office (HMPO)

Reporting the death in the UK 

Reporting the death 

If the death occurs in the UK, EU, Switzerland or some commonwealth countries, the UK Government’s ‘Tell Us Once’ service can be used. When the death is reported to this service, it will then automatically report the death to all departments needed. For the purposes of this guide, however, we are assuming that this service cannot be used.  

The individual departments in the United Kingdom will therefore need to be contacted directly. This guide will cover the main departments and the their contact details, if available, so you know where and who to contact. Please be aware, however, that some parts of the burial process, such as repatriating the body, will need documents such as passports to remain valid so the body can be transported.  

Therefore, when you are sure that the documents concerned are no longer required, you can then contact the listed departments. The below details are also mainly for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with Scotland often having its own departments and reporting procedures.   

Main departments to notify of the UK citizen’s death 

HM Customs and Revenue 

This department will need to be contacted to ensure that all taxes that needed to be paid prior to the persons’ death are up to date and correct, and also to process and report any taxes that may be due after the death, such as Inheritance Tax. If the deceased was receiving income from the UK, or if the deceased sold any items in the UK prior to death and made a gain, HMRC will need to be informed so that they can ensure the required Income and Capital Gains Tax has been paid on what was due prior to the death. It may therefore be necessary to complete a self-assessment form for the deceased and send this to HMRC. The HMRC Bereavement helpline can help with this, or ideally, a qualified accountant can be appointed to process this on the deceased behalf.  

You can use the HMRC Bereavement Tool to work out which forms will be needed to be completed, and this can be found on their website. 

  • Documents required will be as follows, but if resident lives overseas and is not UK Resident for tax purposes, only income, gains and accounts derived from the UK will need to be reported.  
  • Bank statements or Building society passbooks 
  • Dividend Vouchers 
  • National Savings Bonds or certificates 
  • Work or pension pay slips 
  • Details of any expenses paid by Employers from the UK 
  • Confirmation of State Pension 
  • Details on any other UK derived income such as rental Income or income from a business 
  • Details on any gains made from the sale of UK based assets 


Taxes payable after death – Inheritance Tax  

HMRC also has to be informed of the details of the deceased Estate, so that this can be assessed for any Inheritance Tax that may be payable. Even if the deceased is not from the UK, if they hold UK-based assets such a residential property, an Inheritance Tax return will need to be completed as well as a self-assessment form to declare rental income for example.  

This is the responsibility of the person dealing with the Estate, with any Inheritance Tax due needed to be paid within 6 months after the month of the death, and this is taxed at 40% on any taxable part of the Estate, which for UK citizens is anything in addition to 325,000 GBP. Advice on Inheritance Tax can be found on other articles we have produced and are available on our website. 

More information on Inheritance Tax:  
List of Articles 
Inheritance Tax Solutions 
Inheritance Tax Calculator 

We also encourage you to sign up for our monthly seminar discussing the IHT mitigation strategy, called UK Property & Tax Seminar.  

These taxes are notified to HMRC using the Trust and Estate Tax return form SA900, and should be sent as soon as possible after the death of the individual concerned. A professional can be appinted to complete this. Once notified, HMRC will issue a Unique Tax Reference Number(UTR) to use with regards to dealing with the Estate in the future.  

National Insurance Contribution Office 

You should contact the National Insurance (NI) Contribution office to cancel any NI payments if the deceased was still employed or paying voluntary contributions. You can call them from overseas on +44 191 203 7010 during UK office hours or contact them via their online portal.  

Department of Work and Pensions 

You can contact the DWP bereavement service to cancel the persons benefits and entitlements such as the State Pension, and also check if you are eligible for help with funeral costs or other benefits. This service can be contacted on +44 0800 151 2012. If calling from overseas, the International Pension Centre can be used instead using their online enquiry form or for State Pension reporting calling +44(0)191 218 7777. You will need the deceased National Insurance Number. 

Personal, Workplace and Armed Forces Pensions 

What you need to do to stop these payments depends on the pension scheme concerned. You can use the Pension Tracing service online, or from overseas you can call +44 (0)191 215 4491, or write to  

The Pension Service  

Post Handing Site A 


WV98 1AF 

You will need the details of the deceased including their National Insurance Number. 

Vehicle and Driving Licenses 

Contact the Vehicle and Driving Licensing Agency (DVLA) to cancel the deceased driving license and prevent any fraud being committed. You will need to post details for this, which need to include the deceased driving license, your relationship to the deceased, the date they died, and their name, address and date of birth. You do not need a copy of the death certificate. This needs to be sent to  



SA99 1AB 

The DVLA also needs to be informed separately if a UK-based car owned by the deceased is sold, or if you decide to keep a personalized number plate owned by the deceased.  

HM Passport Office (HMPO) 

You need to complete the form titled ‘What to do when a passport holder dies’ which can be found on the HMPO website and send this to the address on the form, or you can take this form in person to your local UK Embassy or Consulate. Remember not to do this until you are certain the passport is no longer needed. If you are repatriating the body the valid passport will be required to transport the body. 

Social Security Scotland 

Scotland often has it’s own Government departments and systems, so please check if the deceased was from Scotland and receives any state payments from Scotland. You can contact Social Security Scotland on +44(0)1382 931 000 during UK office hours. 

Effective Will and Estate Planning 

Putting into place timely and effect Estate Planning and having a valid Will in place will help with many of these issues that can arise upon death and can help ease many tax implications and delays in distributing the Estate of the deceased.  For example, trusts offer a powerful tool for reducing or even eliminating some Estate taxes and avoiding costly probate proceedings. This is an invaluable strategy to protect your assets for future generations! You should look to receive specialist professional advice with regards to these matters as individual circumstances and needs can vary.  

If you would like to discuss any issues with regards to your Will or your Estate planning requirements, please feel free to contact us at your earliest convenience.  


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