Dying in Thailand - What comes next?

Nobody likes to think about what actually goes on after the death of a partner, relative or friend in Thailand. We live as happy foreigners in our adopted home and do not want to deal with the inevitable. Suddenly one is faced with a death and usually the grief and the shock is so great that there is hardly any thought left for these important matters.

We would like to describe the situation here that may arise after the death of a foreigner in Thailand, and provide information on the main issues. The article refers to the case where the deceased foreigner is cremated in Thailand and the ashes remain here. The cause of death is natural causes.

The cause of death will be determined in most cases in a hospital. When this occurs in an international hospital, then it can be expected that the hospital also provides English-speaking staff to help when dealing with the authorities. Should this not be the case, then you should be looking for a trustworthy Thai person who can help with the settlement of regulatory matters and organization over the next few days.

The hospital will contact the embassy of the deceased, and the police. The embassy should then get into contact with the next of kin of the deceased by phone. The police will ask whether there are any doubts as to the cause of death. If not, then a report will be drawn up by the police, usually on the same day. After the hospital has received this report and it has been established where the deceased is to be cremated, it will issue the Thai death certificate. Where there is doubt, then a police investigation is initiated and further steps will be delayed accordingly.

The death certificate must be translated by a sworn translator into English. International hospitals can organise this. One should have five certified copies, together with the translation.

Immigration is the next authority which will be informed of the death of a foreigner, because the visa of the deceased must be cancelled. If members of the deceased's family are staying in Thailand on the basis of this visa, then an arrangement must be made with the immigration office to legalize this.

Choosing the temple for the cremation:


Once the temple has been selected, ask for a date for the cremation. This will usually be a very short time. The body can now be taken to the temple, or remain until the cremation at the hospital. The temple concerned will need to see the death certificate, since this information is recorded there.

The planning and conduct of the cremation will be described in the last part of this article.

After the cremation, the translation of the Thai death certificate has to be registered with the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok, and the Embassy of the home country of the deceased. This might take up to five days, and will make the certificate official and can now be used in the home country for insurance etc. The Embassy of the home country will cancel the passport of the deceased.

Summary:

  • The cause of death is determined at the hospital.
  • The police and the embassy will be informed.
  • The police will prepare a report, which goes to the hospital.
  • The Embassy and the family of the deceased will get into contact with each other.
  • The Immigration office will cancel the visa of the deceased and analyse the visa of family members if necessary.
  • The temple for cremation is chosen.
  • The hospital issues the Thai death certificate.
  • The cremation will take place.
  • The temple receives a copy of the death certificate.
  • The death certificate is translated by a swarn translator.
  • The death certificate and the translations are certified by the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs and legalized by the embassy of the deceased's homeland.
  • The passport of the deceased will be cancelled by the embassy.

The cremation in Thailand:

In Thailand, it is common that the cremation ceremony is time consuming and costly to plan and execute. Sometimes families can become bankrupt due to the expense of carrying out an impressive cremation and subsequent receptions and memorials. Not everyone can afford a large financial outlay and of course smaller and cheaper cremations may be carried out. Foreigners who organise the cremation at a temple and want to make the ceremony as manageable as possible can make these savings.

The explanation of a simple cremation is as follows:

The number of monks conducting the ceremony may be determined by the bereaved. Five monks are the minimum necessary. To kick off the ceremony there is  a small procession in which the coffin, followed by the monks and mourners, circles the incinerator three times. Then the deceased will be prepared for cremation by the fire-master.

   

The mourners will now pray with the monks. The organiser can ask to keep the time of prayer as short as possible, and this request is usually fulfilled.

After the prayers, the mourners and monks will bid farewell to the dead and leave a paper flower as a final offering.

   

The fire-master will now start the incinerator.

At the same time some fireworks are ignited, which should pave the way for the spirit to ascend to Nirvana.

A short cremation can be over within an hour. However, the ceremony can also take half a day, with additional ceremonies on the days before and after the funeral.

The day after the cremation, the next of kin are given the opportunity to fill the urn with the ashes of the cremated. The urn can now remain at the temple's cemetery or be taken elsewhere.

Costs for the cremation are as follows, but are not set in stone and should only be used as a guide.

  • Transportation from the hospital to the temple 1,300 baht
  • Transport of the deceased (hearse) 300 baht
  • Gasoline and coal for cremation 700 baht
  • Cost of the fire-master 500 baht
  • Costs for fireworks 1,500 baht
  • Costs for the temple 1,500 baht
  • Tip for the monks 3,800 baht
  • Cold drinks for the mourners 500 baht
  • Paper flowers 3-5 baht each

Added to this may be costs for a photographer (4,500 baht), floral decorations and wreaths and a final funeral feast, which are not listed here.


posted on: 21.09.2015

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User comments

At 09/21/2015 - 19:01 wrote guest
There is the opportunity to donate their body to a hospital if necessary. has been offering this possibility, then this tends to mean that the hospital fixes a lot of the above!
Re: Dying in Thailand - What comes next?

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