Death of a U.S. Citizen

The difficulty of losing a loved one may be compounded by logistical and communication problems when the loss occurs overseas. The U.S. Embassy in Bogota can provide some types of assistance in the event of the death of a U.S. citizen. Following the death of a U.S. citizen in Colombia, we highly recommend contracting a funeral home to help carry out funeral arrangements and/or the repatriation of remains to the United States.  Please note that the family is responsible for this, although we have included list of funeral homes operating in Colombia to assist.  Keep in mind that there may be other options available.  The U.S. Embassy does not recommend any one funeral home in particular.

Funeral services and preparations are carried out in accordance with the laws and facilities available in Colombia, and for this reason some services may differ from what is available or standard in the United States.

Please note that Embassy staff cannot act as agents for a U.S. citizen making funeral arrangements. However, the Embassy can assist by:

  • Locating the next of kin and notifying him/her of the death of the U.S. citizen.
  • Providing information to families about Colombian requirements for navigating this process.
  • Issuing a Consular Report of Death Abroad for a deceased U.S. citizen. This document is based on the Colombian records and may be used in most legal proceedings in the United States as proof of death overseas.
  • Issuing a Consular Mortuary Certificate. The Consular Mortuary Certificate is one of the documents that the funeral home will need in order to transport the remains to the United States for burial or cremation. The family’s selected funeral home will work with the Embassy to obtain this document.
  • Helping prepare the shipment of the decedent’s personal effects to the United States.

On the other hand, families are responsible for:

  • Any costs relating to the funeral home services, including the repatriation of the remains, cremation, burial, and other arrangements.  The Embassy is not responsible for any costs related to the death of U.S. citizens abroad.
  • Carrying out funeral arrangements, with assistance from a contracted funeral home.

To confirm the relationship between the deceased and the person claiming to be the next of kin, Colombian authorities will often request identification documents for both the deceased and the next of kin, such as passports, birth certificates, and/or marriage certificates.

Costs for funeral services and repatriation can vary greatly depending on the services chosen. We recommend the family contact and obtain quotes from several funeral homes in order to make an informed decision.

The following information is provided to assist families with their decision-making process following the death of a loved one:

Our office issues Form DS-2060 (Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad) for all reported deaths of U.S. citizens in Colombia. It serves as the official notice of the death and is evidence of citizenship. It is often used in legal proceedings in connection with estate matters.

To obtain a Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad (DS-2060), please submit the following documents to the American Citizen Services Unit at the U.S. Embassy in Bogota:
  • One copy of the “Certificado de Defunción Antecedente para el Registro Civil de Defunción” (Colombian Medical Death Certificate) issued by a doctor at the hospital or place of death.
  • Two copies of the notary-issued “Registro Civil de Defunción Colombiano” (Colombian Civil Death Registry).
  • If possible, the last U.S. passport of the deceased or other proof of citizenship. If the original passport or other document cannot be submitted, copies are allowed. (Original documents will be cancelled and returned.)
  • Request form for Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad 

You may deliver these documents by certified mail or in person at the Embassy. If by mail, please send all documentation by to the following address:

U.S. Embassy Bogota
Consular Section
American Citizen Services
Carrera 45 No. 24B – 27
Bogotá, D.C. 111321

If dropping off documents in person, we are able to accept walk-ins Monday through Friday between 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. The Embassy’s address is Calle 24 BIS No. 48 – 50 Bogota. For office hours check the consular calendar here.

Please note that the Consular Report of Death Abroad of an American Citizen takes approximately four to six weeks to be issued after we have received ALL the required information and documents.

In cases of a death by natural causes, a licensed physician certifies the death with the Colombian Medical Death Certificate (Certificado de Defunción Antecedente para el Registro Civil de Defunción). With this certificate a notary will then enter the report of death in the Colombian National Civil Registry (Registraduria Nacional del Estado Civil) and uses this record to issue the official Colombian Civil Death Registration (Registro Civil de Defunción). The Secretary of Health (Secretaria de Salud) will issue authorization for cremation or burial. In Colombia notaries act similarly to the vital statistics offices in the United States. They issue and maintain these records, and all certificates issued by them are “original” copies of the documents (birth, marriage, and death).

In cases where cause of death cannot be immediately determined, the Colombian Attorney General’s Office (Fiscalía General de la Nación) requests that the Colombian coroner’s offices (Instituto Nacional de Medicina Legal y Ciencias Forenses) to determine the cause of death. The coroner will perform an autopsy and generate a report with which the Fiscalía will determine if further investigations are required and which authorizes the issuance of the Registro Civil de Defunción in the interim. Authorization to proceed with cremation comes from Fiscalía, and, if denied, only a burial or repatriation of the body will be authorized.

It should be noted that the autopsy report is NOT a public document. Colombian authorities are not obligated to provide any reports. The autopsy report’s primary use is to determine whether the Fiscalía files charges in connection with the death. Upon request, it may take up to one year or more for the Fiscalía to authorize the autopsy’s release.

Autopsies are not mandatory in every case. They are required when the death might be the result of violence or crime, when the deceased is found unaccompanied with no obvious explanation, or when the death has resulted from an accident, fatal trauma, apparent overdose, or other unnatural causes. The Fiscalía will determine the necessity of this procedure.

By Colombian law, the Coroner’s Office (Instituto Nacional de Medicina Legal y Ciencias Forenses, referred to as “Medicina Legal”) requires that deceased individuals be identified based on scientific data (e.g., fingerprints, dental records, or DNA) and does not allow for visual identification. Fingerprints taken in the United States for military service, background checks, police records, or other purposes may be used for identification. If fingerprints are not available, the family may need to help secure the most recent dental records available.

Cremation is the most common and economically viable option for the disposition of remains abroad. If the next of kin cannot be present to request cremation, he or she must provide a power of attorney authorizing a local representative or funeral home to make the request. If the death occurred under circumstances that require further investigation (including most drug-related deaths), Colombian law regards the remains as evidence in possible future criminal prosecution (even if prosecution is not likely). In those cases, the approval of the cremation is unlikely; however, repatriation of embalmed remains is usually allowed. Families who have lost a loved one under these circumstances can return the embalmed remains to the United States and proceed as desired.

Facilities and certified embalmers are widely available throughout Colombia. Embalming is usually done as soon as the remains have been released to the funeral home by the medical authorities. All non-cremated remains to be transported out of Colombia must be embalmed and accompanied by an embalmer’s certificate.

A wide variety of caskets, including hermetically sealed caskets, are locally available on short notice, as are containers for cremated remains.

When the family is considering repatriation of embalmed (non-cremated) remains, the next of kin should discuss this issue when contacting potential funeral homes. Some Colombian funeral homes are associated with U.S.-based funeral homes in order to receive and transport remains. When this is not the case, the family should also contract a U.S.-based funeral home.

The following documents are required to export embalmed human remains:

  • Mortuary certificate information form
  • Colombian Civil Death Registry (Registro Civil de Defunción)
  • Colombian Medical Death Certificate (Certificado de Defunción/Antecedente para Registro Civil)
  • Embalming Certificate (“Certificado de embalsamamiento”)
  • Undertaker’s Certificate (“Certificado de la funeraria”)
  • Consular Mortuary Certificate (issued by U.S. Embassy)
  • Authorization from the Secretary of Health (“Autorización de la Secretaria de Salud Pública”)
  • Photocopy of the deceased’s ID

To transport cremated remains, the following documents are suggested (no Consular Mortuary Certificate is required):

  • Colombian Civil Death Registry (“Registro Civil de Defunción”)
  • Cremation Certificate (“Certificado de cremación”)
  • Authorization from the Secretary of Health (“Autorización de la Secretaria de Salud Pública”)

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) requirements for importing human remains depends on if the body has been embalmed, cremated, or if the person died from a quarantinable communicable disease.

At this time, COVID-19 is classified as a quarantinable communicable disease in the United States and the remains must meet the standards for importation found in 42 Code of Federal Regulations Part 71.55. Remains may be cleared, released, and authorized for entry into the United States only under the following conditions:

  • The remains are cremated; OR
  • The remains are properly embalmed and placed in a hermetically sealed casket; OR
  • The remains are accompanied by a permit issued by the CDC Director. The CDC permit (if applicable) must accompany the human remains at all times during shipment.

Permits for the importation of the remains of a person known or suspected to have died from a quarantinable communicable disease may be obtained through the CDC Division of Global Migration and Quarantine by calling the CDC Emergency Operations Center at 770-488-7100 or emailing dgmqpolicyoffice@cdc.gov .

Please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website https://www.cdc.gov/ for guidance and additional information.

 

Throughout this process, please keep in mind the costs or the following services and items:

  • Cremation
  • Embalming
  • Casket (metal or wood)
  • Urn
  • Local burial
  • Burial plot – public* or private
  • Transportation of remains (courier service or personal delivery)

*Exhumation – required after 4 years of internment.

The U.S. Embassy Bogota, Colombia assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability, reputation of, or the quality of services provided by the following persons or firms. Inclusion on this list is in no way an endorsement by the Department of State or the U.S. Embassy. Names are listed alphabetically, and the order in which they appear has no other significance. The information in the list on services provided and language ability are provided directly by the companies.

Bogota

Funeraria Gaviria
Address: Calle 98 No. 17 A 20
Tel: 011-571-6211666
Fax: 011-571-6440320/21
Cell: 311-208-9949
Contact: Claudia Castillo Cruz

Funeraria Cristo Rey
Address: Calle 98 No. 18 –20
Tel: 011-571-610-3512
Tel: 011-571- 2567615
Cell: 312-351-00-41 (24 hours)
Website: www.prever.com.co

Funeraria Capillas De La Fe
Address: Carrera 11 No. 69-11
Tel: 011-571-3450188
Fax: 011-571-3100426
Cell: 310-880-6171 (24 Hours)
Cell: 313-3338109
Contact: Maria Helena Sanchez

Funeral International Group
Address: Calle 72 A No. 20-70
Toll Free: 018000916966
Cel: 350-662-4624
International Toll Free: 1-800-550-6842
Email: repatriation@g7ms.com / info@g7ms.com / cc@g7ms.com
Website: www.g7ms.com
This funeral home provides services throughout the country. It also has offices in New York.

La Aurora Funerales y Capillas S.A.
Address: Calle 72 A #20-70
Toll Free: 018000916966
Tel: 011-57-1-255-4216
Cel: 310-828-8002
International Toll Free: 1-800-550-6842
Email: servicios@funeraleslaaurora.com / sandralrubio@funeraleslaaurora.com
Contact: Sandra Rubio
Website: www.funeraleslaaurora.com
Branch in Caldas and eje cafetero, Meta, Boyacá, Tolima, Guania, Vichada

Barranquilla

Jardines de la Eternidad
Address: Carrera 52 No. 74-112, Km. 5
Autopista de Puerto Colombia
Tel: 011-575-3869090, Ext. 4005

Jardines del Recuerdo
Address: Calle 53 No. 50-57
Cementerio Km. 5 Antigua Via Puerto Colombia
Tel: 011-575-3706365

Cali

Funeraria Jardines del Recuerdo
Contact: Carlos Bustamante
Address: Cali, Colombia
Cell: 011-57-314-772-3879
Cell: 011-57-323-530-1960

Funerales Los Olivos
Contact: John Jairo Galeano Vasquez
Address: Avenida Pasoancho # 50 – 70
Tel: 011-57-2-4862020 Ext 1422
Cel: 011-57-3164826434
Email: jefehomenajescali@losolivos.co

Funerales del Valle
Address: Avenida Vasquez Cobo No. 24 N 32
Tel: (011-572) 6616830/6608478
Cell: (011-572) -310-408-2331/ 310-843-7761 (24 Hours)
Email: juanherrera@funeralesdelvalle.com
Website: www.funeralesdelvalle.com

Funerales La Calidad
Address: Calle 4C #36-08 San Fernando, Cali
Tel: 011-57-2-524-3540
Cell: 313-327-5469
Cell: 315-630-3832
Email: ventas.flc@hotmail.com

Funeraria Inversiones y Planes de LA PAZ
Address: Calle 5 #36-05
Tel: 011-57-2-682-2841/554-3979
Cell: 312-449-4831
Email: caminosdepazcontabilidadsur@gmail.com
Website: http://www.inversionesyplanesdelapaz.com/

Cartagena

Funeraria Lorduy
Address: Pie del Cerro Calle 30 No. 18-24
Tel: 011-575- 6661141
Cell: 315-8800006
Website: www.funerarialorduy.com

Medellin

 

Funeraria San Vicente S.A.
Address: Carrera 51 D No 61-20 Av Juan Del Corral, Medellín
Contact: Jorge Escobar Urrego
Tel: 011-57-4-4788624 / Bogota 011-57-1-478-8624
24 hours per day Jorge Escobar Urrego Cell: 310 4139717
If unavailable, contact Isabel Cristina Arango Isaza  Cell: 310 4360963
Email: direcciondeservicios@funerariasanvicente.com
Website: www.funerariasanvicente.com
Provides services nationwide and shipment of remains to any country.

Funeraria La Piedad
Address: Carrera 79 AA No. 44-67
Medellin, Colombia
Tel: 011-574-2518900
Toll Free: 01-8000-518910
Website: www.prever.com.co
The above funeral home provides all types of mortuary services and have experience in preparation and shipment of remains to the United States and other countries.  They also have refrigerated morgues.

Manizalez

La Aurora Funerales y Capillas S.A.
Address: Calle 72 A #20-70
Toll Free: 018000916966
Tel: 011-57-1-255-4216
Cel: 310-828-8002
International Toll Free: 1-800-550-6842
Email: servicios@funeraleslaaurora.com / sandralrubio@funeraleslaaurora.com
Contact: Sandra Rubio
Website: www.funeraleslaaurora.com
Branch in Caldas and eje cafetero, Meta, Boyacá, Tolima, Guania, Vichada