Bereavement is always difficult, but when it happens in a foreign country the practicalities of dealing with the local customs and procedures can seem even more daunting.There is help available and your insurance company, tour operator and the British consulate can be invaluable at this distressing time. The local and international undertakers are also professionals and can assist sympathetically with the details.
If the death takes place at home or in a hotel, the Policia Local and a doctor should be contacted straight away. If it’s in a hospital the administration will take care of the process. The last doctor to attend the deceased will issue a certificate which needs to be registered at the Civil Registry who will then issue the death certificate.
Things tend to happen much more quickly in Spain if there are no suspicious circumstances. By Spanish law the deceased should be preserved or embalmed within 48 hours and the burial or cremation should take place within 72 hours, and it is often sooner. UK citizens can request longer to make arrangements, but still not more than a few days.
The next of kin will need to decide if they want a local burial or cremation, with or without a service, or repatriation to the UK. This might be dependent on whether you are resident in Lanzarote or on holiday here.
For repatriation, if the deceased has travel cover, the insurance company should be contacted as soon as possible as they will contact an international undertaker to make the arrangements. Where there is no insurance the cost will have to be met by the next of kin and they will need to appoint an undertaker. The British Consulate can give practical advice but not financial assistance.
The necessary documents and a special casket for international carriage will be provided by the local undertaker. The formalities take around eight to ten days.
In Spain, local burial is often in a niche above the ground, the rights to which are usually for five years, after which the remains will be removed to a common burial ground, unless the niche is paid for in perpetuity,
Cremation has become more common in Spain in recent years. If the next of kin choose to have a service this will normally be held with the closed casket present before the cremation. The ashes can be taken back to the UK but passengers must check with the airline about any restrictions they have which usually relate to the seal of the urn and ensuring it is securely packaged.
Multiple copies of the death certificate can be obtained in order to notify the relevant institutions in Spain of the bereavement, such as banks, social security, pensions, etc. These will need to be translated into English for a British resident.
There is no easy way to deal with bereavement, but having access to the necessary information will help. More detailed information is available here.