When a person dies in a foreign country, it requires a fair amount of paperwork to make the final arrangements for the deceased.
Recently, I received a call to assist a family from the US, who had a family member die in David. In a previous post, I mentioned some of the people that assisted us through this process. This process will require someone to assist individuals that do not speak Spanish.
I contacted the local authorities to find out the status of the body and how long the family had to come to David. I was pleased to learn that the morgue had four refrigeration units and that would take care of the body until the family arrived from the US.
The family contacted me and gave me the date and time they would arrive at the David airport. I met the deceased’s mother , sister and nephew at the airport.
They arrived on a Wednesday, a week after the death. Their return flight was scheduled for Saturday. Since time was short, we went directly to Cuidad Judcial which is between the airport and the police station.
We went to the office of Lic. Jessica Rosas, who I had previously talked to and who had given me all the information about what the family needed to bring. She asked which of the family member’s was most in communication with the deceased. The sister said she was and she was escorted by an interpreter to provide information for one of the reports that needed to be filed.
We waited in the hall while this was taking place. About an hour into this process, the sister came out and said we should go eat as they were going to work through lunch. The rest of us went to eat and picked up a meal to go and returned. To finish this report took about three hours.
While the report was being prepared, the investigator assigned to the case rode with up to the decease’s house so the family could see the belonging and talk to some gringo neighbors who were friends and had found the body and called the police.
We then took the investigator back to the office and picked up the form, FORMULARIO UNICO DE PARTE CLiNICO DE DEFUNCION, which stated the cause of death and would need to be certified to have the body released from the morgue. This form is a legal sized form and the top portion will look like this.
We then went to the morgue to find out the process for having the body transferred to the crematorium. The document that we had just been given to have certified, plus the death certificate and authorization to transport by the crematorium, was what Erik told us we needed.
The next morning we went to the Tribunal Electoral, in David, to have the document FORMULARIO UNICO DE PARTE CLiNICO DE DEFUNCION certified, which would allow the same office to print the death certificates. The death certificate will look like this. They will print as many as you want for $1 each.
With those documents in hand, we then went to CECREPAG, S.A., which is the crematorium in David. It is located off the Via Boquete highway. If you were coming from Boquete, it would be before you get to Auto Servicos de Chiriquí on the right side of the road.
Here is the sign for the crematorium.
This was a very professional organization. In fact all people we dealt with throughout this process were helpful, considerate and professional. At the crematorium, they required a family member that was going to take charge of the remains sign an authorization form to transfer the body from the morgue the the crematorium. We were required to be at the morgue when the body was picked up to take to the crematorium and took the signed form with us.
The price of cremation was $550. There were two transfer charges for the body. One was $10 and one was $65. I think the body went from the morgue to the funeral home and then to the crematorium. The price of urns were all in the neighborhood of $100. I think the final charge came out to be $740. which was the price that the US Embassy had quoted.
The arrangements were made in the morning and the remains were ready to be picked up in the late afternoon.
Everything had been accomplished in a two day period.
The US Embassy had several things that they had to do that also required forms to be filled out. The first was a form called U.S. Department of State REPORT OF THE DEATH OF AN AMERICAN CITIZEN ABROAD. The Embassy can send this form via email.
They needed copied of the front page of the passport of the people that had signed the FORMULARIO UNICO DE PARTE CLiNICO DE DEFUNCION, a copy of a copy of the death certificate, a copy of FORMULARIO UNICO DE PARTE CLiNICO DE DEFUNCION, and the deceased’s passport to cancel it.
We sent the passport and the other form to the Embassy via DHL. The birth certificate of the sister, to show that they had the same mother and father, was also required. They didn’t have that form with them and a copy was sent by email, when they returned to the US.
When the US Embassy had completed its tasks, it was going to send 10 copies of the US death certificate to the family.
To the best of my recollection, that was the process. I am still amazed that we got it all done in two days.