Death of a U.S. Citizen

The death of a loved one overseas can be difficult for friends and family. The Embassy works hard to ensure that the next-of-kin understands the options and procedures for handling a death in Nepal. We want to make certain that everyone, including the deceased, is treated with respect during a difficult time.

To report the death of a U.S. citizen in Nepal, please call +977-1-423-4000 during normal business hours. After 5:00 p.m. and on weekends/holidays, call the same number and describe your U.S. citizen emergency to the operator. Ask to be connected with the Duty Officer, who is on-call at all times for emergency situations involving the life and safety of U.S. citizens, but cannot assist in any way with visa inquiries or routine services. If the primary number does not work, you can also call the analog back-up number, +977-01-400-7200. In non-emergency cases, please email ConsKTM@state.gov for follow-up the next business day. Deaths should also be reported to local police by dialing 100.

Even if no emergency assistance is required, the death of a U.S. citizen, whether a resident or a tourist, should be reported to the Embassy so that a Consular Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad can be issued. This report is necessary to settle legal and estate matters in the United States. The document will be issued after receipt of: the original passport of the deceased, an original hospital or doctor’s report with cause of death listed, and the original death registration certificate printed by the area ward office. Please be aware that a consular officer is required to cancel the deceased’s passport before the Consular Report of Death Abroad can be released.

The Department of State has no funds to assist in the return of remains of U.S. citizens who die abroad. The American Citizen Services unit can, however, act as a liaison in arranging the disposition of remains if there is no one to do so in Nepal. We provide information to assist the next-of-kin, convey instructions to the appropriate offices within the foreign country, and can help transmit the necessary private funds to cover the costs overseas. The disposition of remains is subject to U.S. and local law, U.S. and foreign customs requirements, and the host country’s facilities, which are often vastly different from those in the United States. Additional information on the disposition of remains in Nepal follows below.

Religious Profile and Funeral Customs of Nepal

Although officially a secular nation, the great majority of Nepalis follow Hinduism or Buddhism. There are also small Christian and Muslim minorities. Religious services for all of these religious are available in Nepal, although availability of Christian and Muslim services may be limited depending on the area. Because cremation is used in Hindu and Buddhist ceremonies, burial in Nepal is relatively rare and practically impossible for a foreigner. Do not expect that burial will be an option in Nepal.

Minimum or Maximum Period Before Disposition of Remains

There are no minimum or maximum time periods before final disposition of remains according to Nepali law. It is important to note that there are no long-term mortuary facilities in Nepal. Deceased foreigners must either be cremated locally or embalmed and shipped home. The largest and most commonly-used morgue facility in Nepal is at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH), which can provide short or medium-term storage for more than 100 bodies. Most forensic, autopsy, and embalming services take place at TUTH. The refrigeration cost is US$25 per day. Grande International Hospital can store two bodies for up to two days, or longer with management approval. The cost per-day is approximately US$30. Norvic International hospital can also store two bodies for up to two days, or longer with management approval. The cost per-day for American citizens is approximately US$100. The Western Regional Hospital in Pokhara charges US$20 a day for refrigeration. The U.S. and German Embassies maintain short-term body freezers for use in very limited emergency situations only.

If a U.S citizen dies outside of Kathmandu, traditional cremation may be the only option available. Many popular trekking areas are in very remote areas; long distances and extended travel times can make transportation of remains unrealistic. In addition, there are no reliable storage facilities outside Kathmandu, in part because daily power outages cut the ability of any available facilities to properly store remains. Private helicopter companies can make arrangement to retrieve and return a body to Kathmandu if requested by and paid for by the next-of-kin. The cost may reach US$10,000, depending on the location.

Cremation

Electric cremation services are available in Kathmandu, but the most common cremation practice in Nepal involves a traditional wood fire on the banks of a local river. Religious services can be arranged in conjunction with the cremation. If the next‑of‑kin desires, the ashes of the deceased can be collected and shipped overseas in an urn. Please note that local cremation often does not result in fine ash as in the United States, rather somewhat larger-sized ash remains.

Embalming and Repatriation

If the body will be repatriated from Nepal to a foreign country, embalming is required. Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu can provide embalming onsite. A private mortician can also complete embalming and preparation for international shipment off-site.

After the decision to repatriate the body is made, it will be important that the family also pick a U.S. funeral home as soon as possible. The U.S. funeral home staff will need to coordinate with the Nepali mortuary service provider to confirm acceptance and transportation of the casket from the relevant airline at the most convenient nearby airport. This process must be completed before transportation can be initiated. Please note that it is generally easiest to pick a single air carrier with as few connections as possible between Kathmandu and the final destination.

Caskets and Containers

Transportation caskets are available locally, but may fall short of U.S. standards in terms appearance. A local mortuary service provider will seal the transportation casket and coordinate screening and export clearance with local customs officials at Tribhuvan International Airport.

Exportation of Remains

Local requirements for the exportation of human remains are as follows:

– Proper embalming and enclosure of remains
– Doctor’s embalming certificate
– Police letter
– Customs export declaration
– Death certificate

Exhumation

Since burials are not generally allowed in Nepal, exhumation is not applicable.

Autopsies

The Nepali police often require an autopsy when a foreigner dies in Nepal under suspicious or unknown circumstances. If the next of kin prefers to waive the autopsy, the Embassy is happy to provide a letter of support. We cannot guarantee that an autopsy will be waived, however, as the local police make the final decision based upon the unique circumstances of each situation. Autopsies are performed at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu. When police require an autopsy, the fee of US$950 is generally waived. There is, however, an extra refrigeration fee of US$25 that must be paid for each day the remains are stored at the Teaching Hospital facility, even if the police require the autopsy. Please know that autopsy services and analysis in Nepal may not be up to Western standards.  A death certificate (often with an initial assessment of cause of death) is usually issued the same day as the autopsy, but a full report may take 3-4 weeks to be completed.

Local Documentation

Several locally-produced documents will be required for completing a Consular Report of Death Abroad of a U.S. citizen, the official government that can be used to initiate estate proceedings. Depending on the circumstances of the death, the following documents may be required:

– If police are involved, a copy of any reports related to the death from any police station that issues a report.
– A one-page death certificate from the physician and/or hospital that certified the deceased’s date and time of death.
– A one-page local death registration certificate obtained from the local area ward office

Estimated Costs

Cremation Services Price-Range Embalming Services Price-Range
Cremation Fee $500-1,500 Embalming Fee $500-750
Preparation of Cremated Remains for Shipment, including Urn and Documentation $200-500 Preparation of Embalmed Remains for Shipment, including Storage, Casket, and Documentation $5,000
Transportation Cost for Typical Export-Type Urn with Human Ashes from Nepal to USA Approx. $100 via cheapest method, more via air freight Transportation Cost (Air Freight) for Typical Export-Type Casket with Human Remains from Nepal to USA Minimum $15 per kg, average $2,000+
Estimated Total US$1,500+ Estimated Total US$10,000+


(Last updated May 2018)

C&K Nepal Travel and Tours Pvt. Ltd.
3rd Floor JDA Complex
Sundhara, Kathmandu
Contact: Bishwesh Shrestha, Shibesh Shrestha, Uttam Pradhan
Phone:  +977-1-4249802, 4248903, 4248904
Fax:  +977-1-4252123
Mobile: +977-9851021483, 9851021602, 9851097706
Email: cnkinfo@cnknepal.com.np, bishwesthrestha@hotmail.com

Global Assistance Nepal Pvt. Ltd.
Pratik Bhawan, Sitapaila
Ring Road, Kathmandu
PO Box: 10901
Contact: Puspa Das Shrestha/ Sailendra Kumar Shrestha
Phone:  +977-1-4272264, 4273740
Fax:  +977-1-4272164
Mobile: +977-9851020192, 9851026117

Holy Heaven Service Pvt. Ltd.
Contact: Mr. Subarna Kuchikar
Sanepa-2, Lalitpur
Mobile: +977-9808284066, 9851006290

Jana Kalyan Sanstha
Bhote Bahal, Kathmandu
Contact: Mohan Lal Shrestha / Nabin Shrestha
Phone:  +977-9813653306, 9803205665

Nepal Funeral & Repatriation Services Pvt. Ltd.
Koteswor 35, Kathmandu
Contact: Raj Kumar Banjara
Phone/Fax:  +977-1-5149096
Mobile:  +977-9851023082, 9802023082, 9823510666
Email: nepalfuneral@gmail.com, ops@nepalfuneral.com
http://www.nepalfuneral.com

Nirvana Funeral Services
Contact: Walter Schweiger
Mobile:  +977-9851022295
Email: newnirvana2010@yahoo.com, bestintown097@gmail.com
https://www.nirvanafunerals.com

DISCLAIMER: The U.S. Embassy Kathmandu assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the above persons or firms. Names are listed alphabetically and the order in which they appear has no other significance. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the funeral directors, morticians, and other service providers. 

(Last updated May 2018)