By Laura Kemp • 03 February 2023 • 10:46
Image - Kzenon/Shutterstock
The death of a loved one – be it family or friends – is a really difficult time. Not only are you grieving and coming to terms with the loss, but you also need to have arrangements in place for funeral procedures, as well as repatriation of the body and considering the wishes of the deceased.
Things can be even more difficult in a foreign country with different practices in place for this event. Spain’s procedure is distinct from other nations’ processes. If you prepare ahead of time, you can reduce some stress if you need to organise someone else’s funeral in Spain or if someone else needs to arrange it for you. This is because you will know what to expect from the procedure and the choices that must be made.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at the types of funerals in Spain, funeral plans, the costs and the timeframes.
Unlike the UK, where a funeral will usually take place three or four days after a death, funerals in Spain typically occur just 24 hours after the death. This doesn’t give you much time to plan, however, you can begin to prepare early by arranging a funeral plan, finding out the wishes of your loved ones, in addition to informing the people close to you of how you would like your funeral to be carried out.
It’s useful to note that this timeframe can be extended in Spain, for example, in order for family members to travel to the country. Nevertheless, by most comparisons, the burial takes place quickly.
The relevant authorities you will need to inform will depend on the cause of death.
The hospital administration will make the initial administrative preparations if a patient passes away there.
If the death takes place at home, you must:
If the attending forensic doctor or judge has any doubts about the manner of death it will be considered a judicial matter and an autopsy will be required. If this is the case, the body will be transferred to the Instituto Anatomico Forense (Forensic Institute), where an autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.
Once this has been established, you must visit the court to secure the necessary permissions for the body’s release. A funeral home may be able to act on your behalf in specific circumstances. You will always need to arrange the funeral yourself.
A death must always be recorded in the country in which it takes place. This must be done within 24 hours of the death and can be done at the local Registro Civil, which is typically located in the Juzgado (Court building), in person, by mail, or online (some regions only). The funeral director will often take care of this for you.
A medical death certificate from the hospital or the physician who cared for the deceased at home must be presented in order to record a death at the Registro Civil. If an autopsy was performed on the person who has died, legal procedures will be used to process the death registration.
The information you will need to register a death includes:
Additionally, the deceased’s information should include the following:
We recommend providing a phone number in case the information needs to be clarified.
There are two types of death certificates in Spain:
If you do not inform the hospital, police, or doctor that you have a specific funeral director/agent that you want to use, they will automatically call the closest funeral director. Spanish funeral homes employ a large number of people who do not speak English. If they cannot provide you with an English-speaking person to assist you with the funeral arrangements and you don’t know Spanish, communication between you may be tough. That’s why it is highly recommended, for expats in particular, to take out a funeral plan and set out your wishes before the time comes.
There are many reputable companies in Spain that can assist you with setting up a funeral plan and making sure your wishes are met.
If you don’t have a funeral plan, you may be unsure of how much a funeral will cost in Spain.
Numerous aspects including logistics, casket purchases, burial locations, and even catering, should be taken into account. In general, the price of a funeral in Spain can range from €3,500 to €4,000, but you should bear in mind that this price is dependent on a number of variables such as the location, the services needed, the type of coffin, etc.
In Spain, cremation is a more affordable option, typically costing €750. This is also usually the most common option for Brits.
It is crucial to get in touch with the deceased’s insurance provider as soon as possible to find out whether they had travel or other types of insurance that will cover the costs of repatriation, burial, or cremation. The family will be responsible for covering the expenditures in the event that the deceased did not have an insurance policy.
If the deceased didn’t have a funeral arrangement, the next-of-kin should choose whether to have a burial, cremation, or repatriation—which entails returning the deceased to their country of origin. The funeral home director will also help with the alternatives.
A “burial” frequently refers to an above-ground niche in Spain. Every town has a cemetery where a casket is placed in a niche (Nicho). These are often kept for a predetermined amount of time (usually between one and fifty years), after which the body is transferred to a common burial site. These conditions could change depending on the cemetery.
If the body is to be taken back to the country of origin and if the deceased has travel insurance, you should contact the insurance company straight away to establish if they are able to cover the repatriation expenses and make the necessary arrangements.
If the insurance doesn’t cover repatriation, you will need to appoint an international funeral director in the home country of the deceased. The repatriation also has to be communicated with the attending doctor when the death certificate is prepared. In the case of repatriation, the passport should be kept with the body.
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Originally from UK, Laura is based in Axarquia and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features.
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