Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] requirements for importing human remains depend upon if the body has been embalmed, cremated, or if the person died from a quarantinable communicable disease.
At this time, COVID-19 is 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 and 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please see CDC’s guidance for additional information.
In the tragic event of the death of a U.S. Citizen in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, you should report it as soon as possible to the U.S. Embassy in Bern.
The Swiss authorities will seek to locate the Next of Kin and other family members and/or close friends living in Switzerland or the U.S. to inform them of the death. If the deceased’s next of kin lives in the United States and cannot be located by the Swiss authorities, they will contact the Embassy and pass along all relevant information. The Embassy, will in turn, contact the next of kin at the earliest possible time to notify him/her of the death.
The Special Consular Services Team can assist family and friends in the event of the death of a U.S. citizen in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. We can act as liaison in arranging the disposition of remains and help with forwarding personal effects. The family or legal representative must pay all funeral home charges, shipping costs for the remains and personal effects (if applicable). We will work with any funeral home selected by the family to ensure proper documentation for shipment of the remains to the United States.
Even if no assistance is needed in making funeral arrangements, the death of a U.S. citizen, whether resident or tourist in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, must be reported to the Embassy so that a Report of Death of a U.S. citizen Abroad (CRDA) can be issued. This document is necessary to settle legal and estate matters in the United States.
Consular Report of Death Abroad (CRDA)
The Consular Report of Death Abroad (CRDA) is a document necessary to settle legal and estate matters in the United States.
The U.S. Embassy Bern will issue up to 20 copies of the Consular Report of Death Abroad.
In order for us to issue this document, you would need to submit the following original documents by registered mail:
- Report of Death Questionnaire (PDF 107KB)
- Swiss Death Certificate (CIEC)
- Last issued U.S. Passport
- U.S. Certificate of Naturalization (if applicable)
- Power of Attorney, Will or Trust specifying the disposition of the estate, or if unavailable a notarized DS-5511 Affidavit for the surviving spouse or next of kin
Please mail the documents to our office. In the interim you may also send us a scanned copy by email:
3007 Bern, Switzerland
The Swiss Civil Registrar and issuance of a Swiss Death Certificate
The Swiss Civil Registrar’s Office generally requires the following original documents to issue of Swiss death certificate:
- Birth Certificate not older than six (6) months
- U.S. Passport and/or Naturalization Certificate/or other proof of U.S. Citizenship
- Proof of Civil Status e.g. Marriage Certificate / Divorce Decree / Death Certificate of spouse if applicable
- Attestation of permanent residence for non residents of Switzerland
The Embassy and Consular Agencies cannot provide copies of U.S. vital records. Please do not schedule an appointment for this. In order to obtain any state government issued document concerning birth, death, marriage or divorce, you may order one from the website of the National Center for Health Statistics.
Mortuary Certificate / Exportation of Human Remains
To export whole remains from Switzerland, the Embassy prepares a Consular Mortuary Certificate to accompany the remains. It provides the flight details and consignee and incorporates the following documents:
- Original Swiss death certificate or interim certificate when an inquest is pending, issued by the Swiss Civil Registrar’s Office
- Medical death Certificate
- Embalming Certificate
- Encasing Certificate
- Transit Permit (Laisser-Passer)
- Certified copy of U.S. Passport
Cremation and Exportation of Ashes
Cremation is the norm in Switzerland.
Cremated remains may be exported if they are accompanied by a certified copy of the local death certificate, the cremation certificate and a statement from the crematorium or the funeral home confirming the urn contains only the ashes of the deceased. We recommend that airline passengers carrying cremated remains to the United States declare the nature of the package to Swiss and U.S. customs and use a non-metallic urn to allow screening. Unaccompanied cremains must be sent by airfreight.
- Repatriation and shipment of body to the United States only – Estimated costs – between 10,000 and 15,000 USD/CHF
- Cremation and shipment of urn to the United States only – Estimated costs – between 2,000 and 5,000 USD/CHF
- Swiss Death Certificate – Cost 30 CHF