The American Citizen Services Unit (ACS) can assist family and friends in the event of the death of an American Citizen in Morocco. The ACS Unit can act as liaison in arranging the disposition of remains and help with forwarding personal effects if there is no one present to do so on your behalf.
Even if no assistance is needed in making funeral arrangements, the death of an American citizen, whether resident or tourist, should be reported to the ACS Unit so that a “Consular Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad” can be issued. This document is necessary to settle legal and estate matters in the United States.
When we learn of the death of an American in Morocco, we will determine as quickly as possible who the next-of-kin of the deceased is and contact that person by telephone immediately. There are several important things that the next-of-kin must do in conjunction with the ACS unit.
- Funeral arrangements:
The following general information is provided to assist families in their initial decisions. Indicated costs are estimates, based on deaths with no unusual circumstances and should be considered for guidance purposes only. These estimates also relate only to costs incurred in Morocco (inclusive of shipping). United States funeral home costs will need to be added.
The family or legal representative must pay all funeral home expenses, shipping costs of the remains and personal effects (if applicable). The ACS Unit will work with any funeral home selected by the family to ensure proper documentation for shipment of remains to the United States.
The total cost of preparation and burial in Morocco is approximately $3,500.00 USD. Moroccan law does not permit for cremation of human remains. The total cost for preparation and air shipment to the U.S. is approximately $7,000.00 USD.
Most personal effects will accompany the remains to their last destination. However, high-value items such as cameras, cell phones, laptops, and cash will typically be sent to the U.S. Consulate General in Casablanca. The ACS Unit will prepare an inventory and forward these items through the carrier of your choice. It typically takes 4-6 weeks for these effects to arrive.
- Consular Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad
The “Consular Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad” is an official report that provides the essential facts concerning the death of a U.S. citizen and is based on the Moroccan death certificate.
In order to assist you with legal matters that may arise as a result of the death of your relative, twenty (or more if you desire) certified copies of the“Consular Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad” prepared by the Consulate will be forwarded to you as soon as possible free of charge. This document is in English and can generally be used in U.S. courts to help settle estate matters, bank accounts, insurance policies, and similar matters.
If in the future you find that you need additional copies, please submit a signed, written request including all pertinent facts along with requester’s return address and telephone number. There is a $30 fee for a certified copy of Reports of Death, and a $20 fee for each additional copy provided at the same time. Please send a written request together with a check or money order made payable to the Department of State to the following address:
U.S. Department of State
Passport Services Correspondence Branch
1111 19th St., NW, Suite 510
Washington, D.C. 20522-1705
Tel (202) 955-0307
As a Muslim country, cremation is not allowed in Morocco. Typically Muslims are buried within 24 hours of their death. If an American Citizen is known to be a Muslim, he or she would typically be buried within this time frame unless the remains are sent to another country. Because most bodies are interred relatively quickly, preservation techniques and local morgues are not as sophisticated as those found in the United States.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Where would my relative’s remains stay until departing Morocco?
If someone dies in a hospital or clinic, they would typically stay in that facility’s morgue until being transferred to the company that will prepare the remains for shipment overseas. In the case of small clinics or when someone dies at home or in a public place, the remains would typically be transferred to the nearest government morgue.
Please explain local embalming techniques.
Most funeral homes in the U.S. use a vacuum system to withdraw bodily fluids and then inject preserving agents such as formaldehyde into the bloodstream. Such technology does not exist in Morocco. A series of formaldehyde injections are administered on the surface of the body, which help maintain its condition.
Please explain the shipping of remains overseas.
Per Moroccan law, the remains will be placed inside a sealed casket before being sent abroad. Please note that the remains are not refrigerated while in transit, which is why they are first embalmed.
The Moroccan funeral home will prepare the necessary customs and other paperwork necessary for transit. Typically, the funeral home at the final destination will receive the casket at the airport and transport it to their offices.
What about my relative’s personal effects?
Most effects will accompany the remains to their last destination. However, high-value items such as cameras, cell phones, laptops, and cash will be sent to the U.S. Consulate General in Casablanca. A U.S. consular officer will prepare an inventory and forward these items through the diplomatic pouch to your destination of choice. It typically takes 4-6 weeks for these effects to arrive.
Do I need to come to Morocco to help with this process?
No. The U.S. Consulate in Casablanca, in coordination with a Moroccan funeral home, will make all the necessary arrangements. However, we may ask you to provide some information about your relative, make some decisions about where and by what route to send the remains, and if you have any special requests. The cost of embalming and transporting remains, if not covered by existing travelers insurance, would also need to be paid for by someone other than the United States Government.
When is an autopsy required?
In most cases an autopsy is not necessary. However, whenever someone dies because of unnatural causes, is the victim of a crime or accident, dies in a public location, or has an unknown cause of death, an autopsy will be performed. For those that die in a hospital or other medical facility or have a readily apparent cause of death, and autopsy is not typically necessary. Basically, the local authorities will decide whether or not an autopsy is required.
If a family member does not want an autopsy performed will the local authorities respect that wish?
No. For the local police, knowing the cause of death is more important than honoring family wishes.
How soon after death is an autopsy performed?
In most cases an autopsy is performed within 48 hours of death. However, timing, location, and the number of other cases needing an autopsy may affect that time frame.
When will I receive the U.S. death certificate?
The Consulate will mail twenty original copies of the Consular Report of Death Abroad via FEDEX to the next-of-kin approximately two weeks after the remains are interred or sent abroad.