When an Ex-pat dies in Spain, the next of kin or a legal representative must decide whether to repatriate the deceased to their native country or hold a local burial or cremation. Some travel insurance covers repatriation and the insurance company must be immediately made aware of the situation.
Once you have obtained a death certificate from the Civil Registry, Registro Civil at the Court Building, Juzgado or at the Justice of the Peace, Juzgado de Paz, you can then register the death with your local Consular office.
Under normal circumstances, the registration process and release forms are obtained within a few hours. In the case of foreign nationals, the authorities extend the period of time for funeral services to accommodate the arrival of family members.
When a loved one passes away, there is great consolation in knowing where to turn. Hospitals have funeral directors that make recommendations for local companies. It is wise not to sign any finalised documents when under stress, but rather contact a local English funeral service which will facilitate the process in English – it will simplify an already trying period and you can avoid hidden expenses. You call the service of your choice and within an hour they are with you to help determine what services will be required.
They take care of all the arrangements including:
- Viewings/funerals (all regions)
- National and international transfers
- All paperwork and documentation
- Purchase of plot/niche
- Flowers/wreaths/music during service
- Placement of obituaries in local and national newspapers
- Vehicles arranged for family members.
A death must be registered within 24 hours at the town hall of the district where it took place.
In the case of a deceased foreigner, the town hall needs his passport or residence permit and the death must also be registered at the deceased’s embassy in Spain. The cost of registering the death of a British national with the embassy is, at the time if writing, 143€.
A death certificate must be prepared and signed by the doctor who attended the death (in a hospital or elsewhere) and be legally certified by their embassy or consulate. This certificate is required for insurance claims and to execute a will.
Funerals in Spain have changed in the recent past. Traditionally in villages, church bells tolled informing the local community of a death and the news spread quickly. Family members and friends congregated holding an all night vigil at the home of the deceased or a family member’s. Nowadays wakes are usually held in cemetery chapels, funeral parlours or in a special community centre known as a tanatorio. While family members or close friends of the family may stay for hours, an appropriate visit is one hour to express your condolences and commiserate with the family.
Wakes in Spain tend to be solemn – there is neither food nor drink. People may talk about the deceased or may be silent. Funeral services generally occur within 24 hours, but they can be delayed to allow for family or friends to arrive. Typically there is a Mass, followed by the internment.
There are some idiosyncrasies: Many older Spaniards still wear black when in mourning for up to a year. During church services many men wait outside and condole with the family when they emerge with the coffin. In some villages there is a separate mourning area for men and women.
Sending flowers is always appreciated. In small towns people may walk to the cemetery; obviously for longer distances a hearse is employed and cars follow. It means a great deal to Spaniards that you attend the wake and express your condolences.
CRUSE BEREAVEMENT CARE
PO Box 800, Richmond, Surrey TW9 1RG
administration_ +44 (0) 20 8939 9530
fax_ +44 (0) 20 8940 1671
Northern Ireland Regional Office
Piney Ridge, Knockbracken Healthcare Park, Saintfield Road, Belfast BT8 8BH.
tel_ 028 9079 2419
Cruse Bereavement Care Cymru
Ty Energlyn, Heol Las, Caerphilly/Caerffili CF83 2TT
tel_ +44 (0) 29 2088 6913
Phoenix Counselling Service
Administrative Office, 591 Heathway, Dagenham, Essex RM9 5AZ
tel_ +44 (0) 208 595 9633
Jewish Bereavement Counselling Service
8/10 Forty Avenue, Wembley HA9 8JW
tel_ +44 (0) 20 8385 1874