What to do when someone dies in Thailand

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What to do when someone dies in Thailand

When clients use our comprehensive Will and Estate planning service, we are often asked what the procedures are once a person has died in Thailand. Clients want to know the steps that need to be taken and where the death needs to be reported, both in their overseas home and also in their home country. To help with this, we have created the following guides to provide an overview of the steps that need to be taken. Although this guide is mainly for people from the UK, the basic rules will be for each Nationality, with some exceptions on what is needed in the home country concerned. 

Reporting and registering the death in Thailand 

If the death is suspicious or multiple deaths occur, you must call +66(0)2305 8333. 

Non-Hospital deaths  

Non-hospital deaths should be reported to the local police as soon as possible, and they will send someone to attend. The police will then provide a report needed to register the death at the local Government office (Amphur), as the death needs to be reported in the country where the death occurred.   

The body will then be taken to the local mortuary, where it must be formally identified. The death certificate will be issued at the time of registration at the Government office and written in Thai. It is strongly recommended that extra copies of the death certificate are requested at this time. Although there may be a fee, it will save time and expense later in the process. 

Hospital deaths 

If the person dies in Hospital, the staff may be able to report the death and liaise with the local Government office (Amphur) on behalf of the family.  

You do not need to register the death with UK authorities as this death certificate will be sufficient for dealing with any probate issues in the UK. Still, it will need translating by a registered translator.  

You must report to the local authorities if the deceased had any infectious diseases to protect the people dealing with the body.  

When registering the death, you will need to provide proof of the deceased identity, such as a passport or ID card, and proof of their address, if possible, along with the same for the person reporting the death, and if you are a spouse, a copy of the marriage certificate. 

Post Mortem 

Postmortems are typically required in Thailand for deaths of a non-Thai national unless the death occurred in a hospital and the causes are not unknown, unexpected, violent or sudden. Religious or cultural sensitivities are not taken into account in this process.  

You can request a copy of the postmortem report from the funeral director if this is held in Thailand, usually available after three months. If the body is repatriated, you should request a postmortem report through the coroner in the UK.   

Burial or cremation 

Burials are not common in Thailand and can therefore be challenging to organise and expensive. If burial is required, it is often recommended that the body be repatriated to the UK or your home country. 

You will likely need a Consular letter from the Embassy before the body can be released for burial, cremation or repatriation. You can obtain such Letters from the British Embassy in Bangkok by sending an email to Bangkok.DocumentaryServices@fcdo.gov.uk or by telephone at +66 23058 333. If the person requesting this is in the UK, they must contact the Foreign Commonwealth and Development office at +44(0)207 008 5000. If you are from somewhere other than the UK, then it should be the equivalent Embassy or office in your home country.   
Documents needed to be provided are as follows:  

  • Copy of the death certificate plus translation.   
  • Copy of the photo page of the passport or Thai National ID of a person requesting the letter.  
  • Copy of the marriage certificate if you are the spouse or proof of relationship of the person requesting the letter. 
  • Letter of authority from next of kin if an authorized person is applying.  
  • If the funeral directors are applying, copies of all relevant documentation, including police and hospital death registration forms. These requests need to be made company headed paper.  


Cremations can take place once the Thai authorities are content that the cause of death has been established or no further investigations are needed. If the body is not cremated within a period of 30 days, with no contact, then the authorities will cremate the body as a part of a pauper’s mass cremation. 

Repatriation of the body 

Repatriation is the process of bringing the body back to its home country. The first thing to check here is whether the person had insurance covering this. If this is the case, report this to the relevant insurance company, and they will organise to bring the body back with International Funeral Directors. Many medical insurance plans have this coverage.  

You will need the deceased’s passport to transport the body, so do not cancel this document before the body arrives in its home country.  

If the person is not insured, the next of kin will need to appoint the International Funeral Director and pay the costs themselves, which could be very expensive. The body will be transported in a coffin, and the UK may require their own postmortem to be carried out by a coroner upon their return to the UK. 

Bringing the ashes home 

If, like many people, you decide on cremation in Thailand and transporting the ashes back, then these have to be in an appropriate vessel, and you need to check with the airline concerned if this can be taken in the cabin as hand luggage or placed in the hold. To transport human ashes out of Thailand, you will need to provide the following documents:  

  • Show the death certificate.  
  • Show the certificate of cremation.  
  • Complete a standard customs declaration on your return to the UK or your home country.  
  • Follow local rules concerning this. 

Other matters to organise  

Sorting out the affairs of the deceased can be overwhelming, even with a carefully planned will. Along with identifying beneficiaries, executing a will requires several other matters to consider to ensure that things go smoothly. 

  1. Locate the latest will and start to formulate a list of assets, to complete the process of probate and distribution of the Estate.   
  1. Inform all the relevant companies concerned, such as banks, investment or trust providers, and secure all possessions and assets of the deceased. Hopefully, the deceased will have a list of their current assets kept with the Will, which may be on their computer if you have the password. Professional Companies or Lawyers can be appointed to take you through this process.  
  1. Cancel the deceased passport to stop fraud by completing a D1 Form with HM Passport Office. Remember not to do this until the body has been repatriated if this is relevant.   
  1. Report to any insurance, investment or pension companies to either stop the annuity payments or inform them so that they can organise any death benefits or spousal benefits that may be available. 
  1. Notify any life insurance companies to obtain the benefits.  
  1. You will need to notify the relevant Government departments in the UK to inform them of the death so that they can organise relevant matters from their side. It will allow them to provide spousal benefits or cease pension and welfare payments. 

Why a Will is an essential part of planning 

If you do not have a valid Will upon death, the Estate will be distributed according to local intestacy rules where the assets are based. These rules will not account for your wishes, family circumstances or any taxation issues but will distribute the Estate according to set rules. This may not allow your spouse or children to benefit in full, and they could only receive a set portion of the Estate, with other family members or Governments benefitting from a large part of your assets.  

Therefore, if you do not have a valid Will, putting one into place as soon as possible is strongly recommended. If you have a Will in place, review it regularly, especially after the death of any beneficiary, significant changes, or if you marry or divorce. We would be happy to help with this. Learn more about Soteria Trusts’ Will Writing Service.  


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