Death is a time of crisis for the family and friends of the deceased, particularly if it occurs abroad and the procedures involved are not clearly understood. The ACS section at the U.S. Embassy in Singapore can assist family and friends when an American citizen dies in Singapore with the following:
- Confirming the death, identity and U.S. citizenship of the deceased
- Notifying the next-of-kin if they do not already know about the death.
- Providing information about disposition of the remains and the effects of the deceased.
- Serving as provisional conservator of the estate, if there is no legal representative in the country.
- Preparing documents for disposition of the remains in accordance with instructions from the next-of-kin or legal representative.
- Overseeing the performance of disposition of the remains and distribution of the effects of the deceased.
- Sending signed copies of the Consular Report of Death of an U.S. Citizen Abroad to the next-of-kin or legal representative for use in settling estate matters in the U.S.
Even if no assistance is needed in making funeral arrangements, the death of an American citizen, whether resident or tourist, should be reported to the ACS Unit so that a Consular Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad can be issued. This document is necessary to settle legal and estate matters in the United States
Report of Death of a U.S. Citizen Abroad
The consular “Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad” is a report that provides the essential facts concerning the death of a U.S. citizen, disposition of remains, and custody of the personal effects of a deceased citizen. This form is generally used in legal proceedings in the United States in lieu of the foreign death certificate. The Report of Death is based on the foreign death certificate, and cannot be completed until the foreign death certificate has been issued.
Copies of the Report of Death
The U.S. consular officer will send the family up to 20 certified copies of the Report of Death at the time the initial report is issued. Additional copies can be obtained subsequently by contacting:
Department of State
Passport Vital Records Section
1111 19th Street, NW, Suite 510
Washington, D.C. 20522-1705
Tel. (202) 955-0307
Additional information about how to obtain copies of Reports of Death, including fees, is available on the Department of State webpage Consular Report of Death.
Reporting a Death in Singapore
Law requires that all deaths occurring in Singapore be registered within 24 hours of occurrence.
For the most comprehensive information on how to report a death in Singapore, go to the Singapore National Environmental Agency (NEA) webpage Other Death Related Matters.
DISCLAIMER: The general information relating to reporting a death in Singapore is provided to assist families in making initial decisions and may not be totally accurate in a particular case. Questions involving interpretations of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign attorneys or foreign government officials.
Step 1: Obtain Certificate of Cause of Death (CCOD)
- If a death occurs in a hospital, a doctor at the hospital can certify the cause of death if the cause of death is known AND the cause is natural.
- If the death occurs at home, contact your family doctor or a doctor who is willing to make a house call. If the doctor is able to certify the death, he will issue the CCOD.
- If you are unable to contact a doctor, call the police. The police will arrange for the body to be examined and if it is determined that the cause of death was natural the CCOD will be issued.
- If a doctor is unable to determine the cause of death, or a death is deemed the result of an un-natural event, the case is referred to the Police / Coroner. In such cases, the body will be sent to Mortuary@HSA (located at Block 9 Singapore General Hospital).
At the Mortuary
- The Police Investigator will arrange for the family to view and identify the deceased’s body in the presence of the Coroner
- The Coroner will review the case and determine if an autopsy is required.
- The family will be informed of the Coroner’s decision and the time to claim the body for the funeral.If the autopsy reveals that the death is unnatural, the Police will need to conduct further investigations into the cause of death and the family will need to assist. Once the investigation is completed, the family will be told by the Police to attend a Coroner Inquiry at the Subordinate Courts.
Step 2: Engage a Funeral Director
The funeral director will:
- Collect the body from a the home/hospital mortuary
- Send the body for embalming (if required)
- Deliver the body to the location of the wake
- Help with arrangements for funeral ceremony
For a list of funeral directors in Singapore, go to Association of Funeral Directors in Singapore.
Step 3: Register the Death and obtain Death Certificate
The death can be registered at:
- Any police division headquarters
- A neighborhood police center
- The Registry of Births & Deaths (3rd floor, ICA Building10 Kallang Road S(208718)
Tel: 6391 6100
To register a death you need to bring:
- Certificate of Cause of Death (CCOD)
- Identification papers of the deceased and of the informant
The Death Certificate will be issued by the police or the Registry of Births & Deaths. The certificate is prepared in accordance with the laws of Singapore. Although authenticated copies of the foreign death certificate can be obtained, the documents are sometimes unacceptable in the United States for insurance and estate purposes. In the United States, a Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad issued by a U.S. consular officer is generally used in lieu of a foreign death certificate as proof of death.
More detailed information can be found at the State Department’s web page Death of a U.S. Citizen Abroad.