A death in Spain (general information)
If you plan to spend the rest of your life here in Spain and not return to your home country, this will provide useful and important information in the event of your death or the death of a member of your family.
If you decide to live in Spain and have no intention of returning to your country of birth, you should take these steps:
Make a Spanish will with your legal representative.
Select a crematorium or a cemetery where you wish to be buried.
Make contact with a funeral director (some are listed on this website).
Share your arrangements with your partner and family members.
Consider taking out a Spanish burial insurance if you are not already covered (some are listed on this website).
Procedures in Spain are usually very similar to those in your home country, but it helps to be familiar with them.
If the death occurs in a hospital, a doctor on the staff will normally prepare and sign a death certificate which must be officially issued by a Spanish judge. If death occurs at home, the attending physician can prepare the certificate.
Funerals in Spain
The funeral director is normally the first person you should contact if you are in charge of arrangements for a death. Funeral directors in Spain, just as in other countries, are aware that family members are distraught when a loved one has died. So, they aim to provide a full service which will include all the necessary paperwork. You may only need to make one telephone call to set the process in motion. Funeral directors in areas with many foreign residents usually have at least one English speaking staff member. When they receive a call, they respond quickly.
If a doctor has not officially pronounced the person dead, they will locate a doctor to do so and they will inform both the Spanish Judge who officially issues the death certificate and the consulate of the person’s nationality because the consulate must issue a death certificate for that country.
You need both these death certificates for any insurance forms and for executing the will of the deceased. The funeral director will take the passport data of the deceased and of the person who is responsible for the body in order to prepare their own reports. They will see that the necessary official certificates are delivered to the family. If necessary, the funeral director can then take the body to the nearest cold storage facility. These exist in larger towns in Spain.
In Spain, you have the option of cremation or burial. The usual custom in Spain, where it is often hot and bodies are rarely embalmed, is to bury the day after death. This is a custom, not a law. The law says only that a body may not be interred sooner than 24 hours after the death has occurred. Where there is no cold storage, it must be buried within 72 hours. Where there is cold storage available, this limit does not apply. You will find that the burial/cremation will be able to take place much earlier than in the UK.
The cremation procedure is as follows:
One peculiarity of the cremation procedure is that family members are not allowed to attend the cremation itself. They may hold a religious service before the cremation with the body present, or after it with the urn. Cremation costs a minimum of €400.00 but prices are steadily rising.
For those who choose to donate their bodies to medical science, any medical school in Spain will be very pleased to make the arrangements in advance. Simply telephone the medical school and declare your intentions. Their only conditions are that the body be available within 24 hours of death and that the death was not caused by an infectious disease or an accident which requires autopsy.
Cemeteries are usually owned by the towns where they are located and a foreigner can be buried in most of them whether or not they are Catholic. Perhaps we should not say ”buried” as most cemeteries in Spain are, in fact, above ground and the bodies are placed in niches. At a burial, the casket is eased into the niche and a pair of masons bricks it in. You will probably find that you need to be registered as an inhabitant of your municipality in order to be buried in the local cemetery.
If your new home town cemetery does not suit you, there are others available. In Málaga, for example, there is an English cemetery and in Benalmádena there is an international cemetery. These have the sort of burial plots to which northern Europeans are more accustomed. Funeral directors can make arrangements for the cemetery plot or niche. They can also contact a British, Danish, Swedish or German pastor, as appropriate, to perform the burial service.
If the body is to be returned to the deceased’s home country, funeral directors can make the arrangements for the air transport as well as the embalming. Embalming is not a standard practice in Spain, but it can be done.
The Spanish funeral director will see to the body’s transport to the airport in the home country, after which you will have to make other arrangements to have the body picked up. A few funeral directors have corresponding agents in other countries that will see to it that the body is delivered to any town in that country.
Funeral costs in Spain
What will all this funeral service cost you? A basic rate will normally be around €3.000, but this can rise quickly when transport costs, embalming fees, cold storage and cemetery fees are added in.
You should be aware that Spanish cemeteries usually let their niches for varying time periods. The municipal cemetery rates are quite inexpensive, but it is not the same as purchasing the plot forever.
If you wish to repatriate a body to the deceased’s home country, you will find that prices for air transport of bodies are high. They go as freight and are charged by the kilogram. Air transport costs within Europe can range from €1,000 to €2,500. Prolonged storage will also add to your costs. Embalming costs around €1.500.
It pays to plan ahead. Check now with a Spanish funeral director for their rates and services. If the first price quoted seems high, do not hesitate to visit another funeral director and compare rates. Burial insurance is also available in Spain.Insurance, Death in Spain, Procedure, documentations, Funeral Directors
A death in Spain (general information)