Death of a U.S. Citizen

The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade stands ready to assist in the event of the death of a U.S. citizen in Serbia. Our assistance includes notifying the next-of-kin of the deceased (if not traveling with him/her), helping with arrangements for the disposition of the remains, and producing an official record of the death, which can be used in the United States.

Consular officers also can act to protect the property and personal estate of a deceased American, until such property can be turned over to the next of kin.

Official Record of the Death

The Consular section will provide a Consular Report of the Death of a U.S. Citizen Abroad. This form is often required for estate and insurance purposes. One of the first steps in obtaining the report is to obtain a Serbian death certificate.

Obtaining a Serbian Death Certificate

(serbian: “Izvod iz matične knjige umrlih)

If death occurs in a hospital, the hospital automatically forwards the doctor’s report on cause of death (Serbian: “Potvrda o smrti”) to the Serbian Registry of Vital Statistics (Serbian:”Opština”). If death does not occur in a hospital, a coroner’s certificate (Serbian: “Dozvola za sahranjivanje umrle osobe”) is delivered to the “Opština” in the district in which the death occurred if such assistance is desired.

If cause of death cannot be readily determined or appears to be accidental, the coroner has the authority to order an autopsy. Under Serbian law, an autopsy may be performed without the consent of the next-of-kin. Autopsies may take up to four working days. Depending on the results of the autopsy, the case may then be forwarded to legal authorities who might decide to investigate further before a coroner’s certificate is issued.

Burial may not take place until 24 hours after death, but must take place within 72 hours. In some cases, however, this period may be extended, particularly if the body is refrigerated. Refrigeration facilities are often lacking, and embalming, not being a Serbian custom, is only performed in Belgrade and Novi Sad.  If a body, whether embalmed or not, is placed within a sealed metal container built to certain specifications, it may be stored above ground for an extended period if refrigerated.

Embalming facilities are available in Belgrade and Novi Sad.  Embalming is performed by the Forensic Institute attached to the universities or medical clinics in the above towns, and should be done within 72 hours after death. Embalming is expensive, about $1,300, and institutes that perform it often demand payment in advance.  Furthermore, embalming is not performed according to U.S. standards, and results might be disappointing.

Cremation facilities exist only in Belgrade and Novi Sad. Legal provisions are the same as for burial, except that the written permission of the next-of-kin or other authorized persons (including consular officers) is necessary.  Compulsory autopsies will be performed in cases of suspicious deaths.

When remains are to be transported out of the country, the body is appropriately prepared or cremated for shipment. It is then placed in a sealed coffin with a metal container. In the case of cremation, they are placed in an urn inside a sturdy wooden crate. Caskets and urns are available locally on short notice. They are prepared according to international regulations and meet the requirements for shipment out of the country. For more information please see the list of funeral homes in Serbia below.

Following documents are required by authorities:

  • Human remains
    • Official Serbian Certificate of Death issued on the international form
    • Customs declaration from the local office of the Customs Administration. In addition, the customs declaration must be attached to the outside of the container in which the remains are to be shipped.
  • Ashes
    • Official Serbian Certificate of Death issued on the international form
    • Certificate of Cremation
    • Customs declaration from the local office of the Customs Administration.  In addition, the customs declaration must be attached to the outside of the container in which the remains are to be shipped.
  • Costs:
    Charges are based on the exchange rate of April 3, 2018: $1 = 100 RSD. All fees are approximate.

    • Preparation and Shipment of Cremated Remains: $1,850 (fees include collection and transportation of cremated remains, inexpensive coffin, urn, crematorium fee, administrative fees, and shipment.)
    • Embalming: $1,300 (fees include embalming and Doctor’s certification.)
    • Preparation and Shipment of Remains:  $3,500 (Fees include embalming, collection of remains, documentation costs, wood casket, and U.S. regulation shipping container, “Air Waybill” fee, airport warehouse fee, cargo agency service)
    • Airfreight charges:
      Note:  Average weight of casket and containers is usually between 150 kg and 200 kg.

      • Belgrade to New York: $21.86/kg
      • Belgrade to Chicago: $25.00/kg
      • Belgrade to Los Angeles: $19.27/kg

There will be additional costs if the remains need to be transported within country prior to their departure from the capital.  There will also be additional costs should the remains transit an airport outside Belgrade and make a stopover on route to the final destination in the United States.

Exhumation is permitted upon presentation of a permit from the Office of the Sanitary Inspectorate.  Exhumation often is not allowed during the summer months.  Costs vary depending upon charges for local labor.

Disclaimer: The U.S. Embassy Belgrade assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the following persons or firms. Inclusion on this list is in no way an endorsement by the Department of State or the U.S. Embassy Belgrade. Names are listed alphabetically, and the order in which they appear has no other significance.

Belgrade

  • KVATRA
    Contact person:  Vuk Milivojevic
    Ruzveltova 37, 11000 Belgrade
    Phone: +381 63 366 246, +381 11 2761 969
  • RADOVIC
    Contact person: Vlada Radovic
    Vinogradski venac 22, 11030 Beograd
    Website: www.pogrebno-radovic.com
    Email: pogrebno-radovic@eunet.rs
    Phone: +381 11 239-9678, +381 64 610-7995
  • Chicago Branch Office: SVETA GORA
    3517 North Pulaski Road
    Chicago, IL 60641, U.S.A.
    Website: http://svetagora.com
    Phone: +1 773 5882200

Nis

 

Subotica

  • FUNERO
    Contact person: Ivan Pejic
    Karadjordjev put 2, 24000 Subotica
    Website: www.funero.rs
    Email: funero@funero.rs
    Phone: +381-24-55-44-33
    Viber: +381-65-544-3306