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Death of a loved one

Death of a U.S. Citizen in Nepal

When a loved one dies overseas, the experience can be difficult to manage for friends and family. The U.S. Embassy in Nepal works hard to ensure the next of kin understands the options and the procedures for handling a death case, and that everyone, including the deceased, is treated with the respect.

The following describes Nepalese law and customs on the disposition of remains.

Profile of Religions of the Host Country and Religious Services available to visitors.                   

Although officially a secular nation, the great majority of Nepalis are Hindus, although there is also a sizable Buddhist population.  There are also small Christian and Muslim minorities.  Services of all of these religions are available in Nepal, although availability of Christan and Muslim services may be limited depending on the area.

Because cremation is used in Hindu and Buddhist ceremonies, burial in Nepal is relatively rare, and practically impossible for a foreigner. 

Funeral Directors, Mortician and Related Services Available in the host country:

The following mortuaries provide the Hindu and Buddhist style cremation services and assist with the shipment of ashes and remains.  Services provided by these mortuaries may differ in standard from those in the United States.

C&K Nepal Travel and Tours Pvt. Ltd.
3rd Floor JDA Complex
Sundhara, Kathmandu
Contact: Bishwesh Shrestha, Shibesh Shrestha
Phone:  +977-1-4421688, 4421689
Fax:  +977-1-4428081
Mobile: +977-9851021483, 9851021602 

Global Assistance Nepal Pvt. Ltd.
Pratik Bhawan, Sitapaila
Ringroad, Kathmandu
PO Box: 10901
Contact: Puspa Das Shrestha/ Sailendra Kumar Shrestha
Phone:  +977-1-4272264, 4273740
Fax:  +977-1-4272164
Mobile: +977-9851020192, 9851026117

Jana Kalyan Sanstha
Bhote Bahal, Kathmandu
Contact: Mohan Lal Shrestha / Nabin Shrestha
Phone:  +977-9813653306, 9803205665

Nirvana Funeral Services
Contact: Walter Schweiger
Phone/Fax:  +977-1-4436570
Mobile:  +977-9851022295

Nepal Funeral & Repatriation Services Pvt. Ltd.
Contact: Raj Kumar Banjara
Phone/Fax:  +977-1-6639696
Mobile:  +977-9851023082

DISCLAIMER: The U.S. Embassy Kathmandu, Nepal assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the above persons or firms. Names are listed alphabetically, and the order in which they appear has no other significance. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the funeral directors, morticians and other service providers.

Profile of services available in the host country regarding preparation and shipment of remains. 

1. Maximum Period Before Disposition of Remains 

There are no long-term mortuary facilities in Nepal, and deceased foreigners must either be embalmed and shipped home or cremated here.  Short-term body freezers are maintained by the U.S. Embassy (at the Phora Durbar compound in central Kathmandu), the German Embassy and the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (which provides forensic services for any death by accident or unusual circumstances).

The Embassy's unit has four drawers, one of which is always held in reserve in case a U.S. citizen dies.  The German Embassy unit can accommodate up to 10 bodies at maximum and the Teaching Hospital’s facility has the capacity to store 32 bodies simultaneously.

Because of the remoteness of many areas in Nepal, if a U.S citizen dies outside of Kathmandu, the chances are that cremation will be the only option available.  The following reasons illustrate why cremation is often the only alternative:  long distance of transportation of remains from a remote area to Kathmandu which often increases the time that a body has to decompose; there are no good storage facilities for bodies outside Kathmandu; Nepal suffers from daily power outages of up to sixteen hours  during the dry season effectively cutting the ability of most available facilities to properly store the remains; many popular trekking areas cannot be reached in a short period of time; and because of Nepali religion and cultural beliefs, few people will actually handle a body, making transportation arrangements more difficult.  Private helicopter companies can make arrangement to retrieve and ferry a dead body to Kathmandu and other places as wished by the next-of-kin of a deceased family member but the costs for doing so can easily come up to anywhere between US$2,000.00 and US$8,000.00, depending on the location.       

2. Embalming  

The Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu provides embalming services.  Some of the staff of the hospital’s forensics department are Western-trained.  Embalming and preparation for shipment usually takes place in the mortuary facility at the Hospital itself, although a private mortician generally finalizes all the shipping requirements.

3. Cremation 

There are no crematoriums in Nepal.  Rather, remains are cremated over a wood fire on the banks of a local river.  Similar cremations are regularly arranged and attended by consular section employees for U.S. citizens whose next‑of‑kin prefer cremation over shipment of remains.  Religious services can be arranged in conjunction with the cremation, and if the next‑of‑kin desires, the ashes of the deceased can be collected and shipped to them in an urn.

4. Caskets and Containers

The Embassy stocks caskets imported from Thailand, including one for a child.  When the body of a U.S. citizen is to be shipped from Nepal, the casket is sealed in the presence of a consular officer through the assistance from a local service provider.  Caskets available locally are less expensive but may fall short of U.S. standards in terms of quality and make. A Nepali customs official screens the casket through a scanning machine at the Tribhuvan International airport who then issues an export declaration.

5. Exportation of Remains

Local requirements for the exportation of human remains are as follows:

  1.  Embalmment of the remains.
  2. Doctor’s embalming certificate.
  3. Enclosure of the remains as described in paragraph 4 above.
  4. Police Letter, if applicable.
  5. Customs Export Declaration.
  6. Consular officer’s affidavit regarding the shipment.
  7. Death certificate.

6. Exhumation and shipment 

Since burials are not generally allowed in Nepal, this section is not applicable.

7. Autopsies

An Autopsy is generally required to be performed on the remains but is generally not up to Western standards.  The Teaching hospital in Kathmandu provides autopsy services and charges US$950.00.  The Hospital also charges an extra fee of US$21.00 for each day the remains are stored in their facility. 

8. Remarks

An Autopsy is not mandatory in Nepal in natural death cases unless the death of a U.S. citizen becomes a police issue, e.g. death occurred due to an automobile accident, or foul-play is suspected.  In cases where next of kin (NOK) requests a waiver of autopsy, the police will need a letter from the NOK with a support letter from the Embassy requesting the waiver of autopsy.  The Embassy cannot guarantee that an autopsy will be waived as the local police will make a decision on a case by case basis, depending upon the circumstances surrounding the death.