What are the procedures when someone passes away in Spain?

Burial is more expensive than cremation

When someone passes away in Spain without a funeral plan in place, there are costs and procedures which will need to be fulfilled by their family within a very restricted period of time.

Doing so in a foreign country and a foreign language just adds to the pain of having lost a loved one and prices can vary depending on your location from the Costa del Sol to the Costa Blanca and other areas.


When someone dies of natural causes, the first thing to do is call the Emergency Services (112) and get a doctor to certify the death.

If a person is in hospital or a care home when they pass away, staff there will carry out this procedure.

If the death is not due to natural causes, then you must call the Local Police (092).

Make sure you have some form of ID for the deceased to be able to carry out these procedures.

Death certificate

Once a doctor had issued the Certificado Medico de Defuncion, a temporary certificate, a funeral parlour (tanatorio) should be contacted to have the body moved from the home.

Within 24 hours of the death, the temporary certificate must be taken to the civil registry office (Registro Civil) in the town of residence of the deceased to get the official death certificate. You will need several copies of this document.

Burial licence

You then need to obtain the burial or cremation licence from the Civil Registry office, as in Spain, the burial or cremation of a person’s remains must go ahead within 48 hours of their death unless there are suspicious circumstances.

If you are carrying out all these procedures when someone passes away in Spain, within a 48-hour deadline and with the added limitations of the language barrier, while at the same time contacting friends and relatives about the passing of your loved one, it is likely that you will be worried about what exactly you are signing for and what the final costs may be.

Costs everywhere

The costs which you can expect to be faced with in Spain include the coffin, funeral parlour, transfer of the remains and administrative procedures, as well as extras such as flowers. If the deceased wanted to be buried in their country of origin, repatriation represents an extra cost. Burial is more expensive than cremation, due to the transfer to the cemetery, ‘rental’ of a niche at a price of between €150 and €600 per year and the headstone. In Spain, after a previously agreed number of years, there is also a fee to remove the remains.

New restrictions

Due to current coronavirus restrictions, human ashes can no longer be returned from Spain to the UK privately with a courier service as they could in the past.

Instead, the same procedure as is required when repatriating a body must be carried out which is considerably more expensive.  Golden Leaves can arrange the whole process for you. Alternatively, a family member can take the cremated ashes back to the UK with them and Golden Leaves Funeral Plans can provide the certificates required for transport.

Funeral plans make sense

Meanwhile, arranging a pre-paid funeral plan takes the pressure off your family both financially and emotionally so that they don’t need to handle the procedures when someone passes away in Spain.

They don’t have to worry about having enough money to pay for the procedures and everything is arranged for them in advance. The wishes of the deceased are guaranteed to be carried out, and with just one call to Golden Leaves everything is handled in their own language, by the helpful and caring team of professionals.

Sensitive team

Clients have nothing but praise for how the Golden Leaves team handles everything for them in such a difficult time, meaning that they can focus on what matters; taking care of each other.

With dual coverage and global portability plans available, there is nothing to worry about, no matter where the death occurs and whether or not the deceased wants to be repatriated.

Always there

Golden Leaves has an emergency helpline available 24/7 and your call will always be answered.

The main language used by Golden Leaves is English but the team is multilingual and can assure you that you will be able to speak to someone in your own language.

Your call will be dealt with professionally whatever the time, by real people, not automated messages and Golden Leaves team will take action immediately and begin to act upon the plan which was in place.

Emergency contact

When you purchase a plan, Golden Leaves will provide you with an emergency contact card with all relevant numbers that your relatives will need when the time comes so they have nothing to worry about, just one simple call and everything will be arranged. Coffins and urns are included in the price, and death certificate (three in Spanish and three in English).

Extra support

If you want to ensure your family has extra financial and emotional support when you pass away, enquire now about the different prepaid funeral plans available.

Your wishes are guaranteed to be carried out with just one call to Golden Leaves, a company you can trust. The procedures that need to be carried out when someone passes away in Spain will be handled for you.

www.goldenleavesinternational.com[email protected]
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Written by

Jennifer Leighfield

Jennifer Leighfield, born in Salisbury, UK; resident in Malaga, Spain since 1989. Degree in Translation and Interpreting in Spanish, French and English from Malaga University (2005), specialising in Crime, Forensic Medicine and Genetics. Published translations include three books by Richard Handscombe. Worked with Euro Weekly News since November 2006. Well-travelled throughout Spain and the rest of the world, fan of Harry Potter and most things ‘geek’.


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