Death of a U.S. Citizen

Death is a time of crisis for one’s family and friends no matter where it takes place. If death occurs overseas the experience can be even more traumatic, especially if the procedures involved are not clearly understood.

To read the annual report of disposition of remains, visit our site’s “Disposition of Remains Report.” The below instructions are for deaths in The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). There are several important things that the next of kin must do in conjunction with the Embassy. We stand ready to assist you with any of these steps at any point.

Any death of a U.S. citizen should be reported immediately to the Embassy.

The American Citizen Services Unit, U.S. Embassy in Kolonia can be reached through the Embassy switchboard at 320-2187 (from the U.S., 011-691-320-2187). After hours, the Embassy duty officer is available at 920-2369 (from the U.S., 011-691-920-2369).

When reporting a death to us, if possible, please tell us the deceased person’s name, date and place of birth, passport number, date and place of death, cause of death, and the location of the remains. We also need the full name and phone number of the next of kin if available.

In cases where we learn of the death of an American, we will as quickly as possible determine who is the next of kin of the deceased and contact that person by telephone immediately.

In some situations, however, it may not be possible to immediately determine who is the next of kin; for example, if someone passes away in a car accident and no ID is found. In situations such as that, we will work with the FSM authorities, the Department of State’s Passport Office and any other resources available to locate and contact the Next of Kin.

We seek to carry out the wishes of the next of kin. Generally the next of kin is held to be the spouse, the adult children, the parent(s) or the siblings of the deceased.

If not embalmed, remains must be interred within 24 hours. However, the scarcity of refrigerated storage facilities dictate that the disposition of remains be completed as quickly as possible. The following paragraphs explain the options you have for making your decisions.

If the deceased was a retired member of the United States Armed Forces, please let us know so we can put you in touch with the appropriate service’s Office of Mortuary Affairs in the United States. Burial flags are available from the Veteran’s Administration for most veterans who were honorably discharged. Contact the VA for details.

Costs for all options will vary depending on from where the remains must be transported and the quality of casket desired. Please note that all costs listed here are estimates, and are subject to change.

In the FSM, the options regarding the disposition of your loved one’s remains are limited. Cremation is not available anywhere in the country. Also, it is customary for people to be buried on family property making burial options within the FSM complicated and dependent on a local family or organization willing to provide the property. You may have the remains embalmed and shipped to another location (such as the United States).

Embalming in the FSM, Disposition in the U.S. The Pohnpei State Hospital charges $50 to embalm a body. The embalmer on Yap charges $700.00 to embalm and an additional $60.00 per day for storage. On Chuuk, embalming local Chuukese cost $235.00, and foreigners including other FSM States cost $500.00. On Kosrae, embalming a native resident costs $200 to $300. Other FSM citizens cost $400 to $500 and foreigners are charged $500 to $2,000.

Preparation and air shipment are carried out in accordance with the laws of and facilities available in the FSM and in some cases, the services fall short of those expected in the U.S. We recommend that you ask your home town funeral director to determine the advisability of viewing the remains.

Your loved one’s remains will need to be received in the U.S. by a licensed funeral home. You will need to make arrangements for receipt with your home town funeral director.

In order to prepare remains to leave the FSM, four documents must be obtained. In most instances a the local hospital can obtain, or assist you in obtaining, these papers. The four documents are a Death Certificate, Embalming Certificate, Removal Permit, and Packing Certificate.

Many factors can affect how much time will be needed to prepare your loved one’s remains for return to the United States. Because of these many variables, it is best not to make unchangable plans for ceremonies and the like until a firm timetable can be provided.

The Embassy cannot authorize any preparation of remains until the proper funds are on deposit. Therefore, it is imperative that the necessary funds and instructions are provided as soon as possible after a death occurs.

Direct Transfer to the Mortuary Service: If costs are to be borne by relatives or friends in the United States, the quickest means of transmission is to make an arrangement to pay the hospital or mortuary directly through the help of friends or relatives located in the FSM. Please note almost all transactions in the FSM are done in cash and services may not be able to accept credit card or electronic transfer payments.

Telegraphic Transfer: If that is not possible, you can telegraphically send funds to the Office of Overseas Citizens Services (OCS), Department of State, Washington, D.C. for forwarding to the Embassy in Kolonia, and later to the mortuary service in the FSM.

To send funds via the Department of State, please call 1-888-407-4747 during the hours 8AM to 8PM weekdays. Funds sent during non-business hours may not be processed until the next business day. Also visit the State Department’s travel site, “Sending Money to U.S. Citizens Overseas”.

Western Union: Funds sent via Western Union are generally processed and available for disbursement overseas within 24 hours during the business week. This is usually the fastest method of sending funds to OCS. Funds can be sent one of three ways. (1) call Western Union’s Quick Collect© service at 1-800-634-3422, (2) log onto the Western Unition website, or (3) visit a Western Union agent location. In most cases, funds sent via Western Union arrive at OCS within 30 minutes.

  1. Call Western Union’s Quick Collect©:
    • You will need a MasterCard, or Visa credit card to authorize a Western Union fund transfer by phone
    • You will be asked for a “code city,” which is ”OVERSEASEMERGENCY, DC.”
    • You will be asked for a “Pay To” name which is “Department of State.”
    • You will be asked for an account number: please use your phone number.
    • Tell the operator to put the name and location of the deceased you are sending money to in the reference field to avoid a delay in the fund transfer.

    Some States place restrictions on the use of QuickCollect© by phone. Western Union can inform you of the States with these restrictions.

  2. On the Internet, only MasterCard and Visa are accepted:
    • Click on MAKE PAYMENT
    • Choose your payment type and biller: “Other Billers”
    • Select Code City “”OVERSEAS CITIZEN SERVICES.”
    • Follow the prompts to register

    Some States place restrictions on the use of the Internet. Western Union can inform you of the States with these restrictions.

  3. Go in Person, with cash, to any Western Union agent location. This is the least expensive Western Union method of sending money. To find the closest location, call 1-800-325-6000. You will need to complete a blue payment form which will ask for the same information requested above. The State Department’s $30 processing fee must be included in the total amount sent by Western Union. Failure to include the fee will result in the money being deducted from the amount intended for the U.S. citizen recipient. Note Western Union also charges an additional fee for its services.

To send funds via the Department of State, please call 1-888-407-4747 during the hours 8AM to 8PM weekdays. Funds sent during non-business hours may not be processed until the next business day. Also visit the State Department’s travel site, “Sending Money to U.S. Citizens Overseas”.

Any unused funds will be returned after all bills have been paid.

The Embassy prepares a Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad for every civilian American who dies in the FSM. This certificate is based on the local death certificate and is valid for use in the United States. Unless the legal next of kin is in the FSM or another person is chosen as provisional custodian, the Embassy acts on behalf of the executor as the provisional custodian of the estate of any civilian American.

As the Report of Death can only be issued after the FSM authorities complete their documentation of the death, we anticipate an interval of a few days to a week after the authorities complete their work before the Report of Death can be issued. Certified copies will be sent to the Next of Kin and the original will be sent to the Department of State for permanent filing.

Some U.S. insurance companies, other agencies, and courts in the U.S. request information on our legal authority to issue such reports. That authority is contained in 22 U.S. Code 4196; 22 Code of Federal Regulations 72.1.

Twenty copies of the Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad, issued at the time of death, will be provided to the Next of Kin free of charge.  Advise the Consular Officer at the time of issuance if more copies are required.  If in the future you need additional copies, they can be obtained for a fee of 50 dollars per copy. For instructions on how to request additional copies of a previously issued Report of Death Abroad, please visit the State Department’s webpage regarding the death abroad of a U.S. citizen.

U.S. Department of State
Passport Vital Records Office
1111 19th Street NW, Suite 510
Washington, DC 20036

Visit the TSA website for information on traveling with crematory remains.