Dealing with the death of a loved one is stressful in any situation and is made even more complicated when it happens abroad. For U.S. citizens who have died in Mexico, the U.S. consulate will help you through the process in obtaining all of the necessary paperwork. You are responsible for paying all costs associated with a burial in Mexico or taking the body back to the U.S.
The U.S. Consulate
The first step when a loved one passes away in Mexico will be to contact the U.S. Consulate. The American Citizen Services department will assist you in issuing all the necessary paperwork and provides information on how to make arrangements for local burial or return of the remains to the United States.
Mexican authorities and the U.S. consulate will often request identification documents for both the next-of-kin and the deceased, such as passports, birth certificates, or marriage certificates so have those documents ready.
Here are the U.S. consulate offices in Baja:
U.S. CONSULATE GENERAL TIJUANA
Paseo de las Culturas s/n
Mesa de Otay
22425 Tijuana, Baja California
Tel. (from Mexico): 664-977-2000
Tel. (from U.S.): 011-52-664-977-2000
U.S. CONSULAR AGENCY LOS CABOS
Las Tiendas de Palmilla L-B221
Km. 27.5 Carretera Transpeninsular
San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur 23406
Tel. (from Mexico): 624-143-3566
Tel. (from U.S.): 011-52-624-143-3566
Emergency Line for American Citizen Services
Tel. (from Mexico): 55-8526-2561
Tel. (from U.S.) 844-528-6611
Overseas Citizen Services
If your deceased loved one is in Mexico, and you are in a different country, you should call the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Overseas Citizens Services. Hours are 8 am to 5 pm Eastern time, Monday through Friday.
Paperwork and Requirements
Once the Mexican Death Certificate has been issued, the Consulate will prepare a Consular Report of Death Abroad (CRDA). This document is required to legally certify the death overseas and undertake any legal proceedings for estate or insurance back in the U.S. To prepare the Report of Death document, the consular staff will need evidence of U.S. citizenship, identity of the deceased, and the original Mexican death certificate.
Other documents that will be necessary to obtain will be a Consular Mortuary Certificate, Affidavit of Foreign Funeral Director, and Transit Permit.
In the case that the deceased had a quarantinable communicable disease, you will need to obtain a CDC import permit to return the remains to the U.S.
If you are planning a burial in Mexico, the U.S. consulate will help connect you with a local funeral home that will help in making those arrangements. If you plan to repatriate the body back to the U.S., there are a number of requirements that Mexico has for exporting the body and the U.S. has for importing the body. The U.S. consulate will guide you through the process.
Mexico requires that the body must be embalmed, buried, or cremated within 48 hours. If you plan to take the body back to the U.S., the body must be embalmed or cremated. You will be responsible for purchasing packaging for the body (an urn for cremation, a casket, or body transfer case).
You will work with the U.S. consulate to obtain all of the proper paperwork for the export of the remains from Mexico and the import of the remains to the U.S. The consulate can assist with arrangements for transportation such as local transportation or an international airline. Most airlines will permit you to carry ashes in your hand luggage but always check ahead of time with your airline.