Posthumous Repatriation from Russia to Estonia

Step-by-step instruction on how to return the mortal remains of an Estonian citizen from Russia to their homeland

1. Report the death of an Estonian citizen to the Russian emergency services

Regardless of the citizenship of the deceased, the first step is always the same. It is necessary to follow up two initial steps in case of anyone’s death: first, those who witnessed the tragic event must call a police officer to draw up the body examination protocol; second, arrange an ambulance team to establish the fact of death. Then, upon discovering the foreign citizenship of the deceased, emergency services employees will notify the Estonian consulate of the incident, which, in turn, will pass this information on to the relatives of the deceased in Estonia. However, if you know the deceased’s relatives contact details, do not leave this matter to chance – the diplomatic officials will not start the process up until the moment it receives official documentation, confirming the fact of death, from Russian government agents, and these documents registration may take more than a day.

Important! Be sure to find out and document contacts of the morgue to which the body will be delivered – this information is necessary to start the process of posthumous repatriation of the deceased to their homeland.

2. Inform the insurance company about the death of the insured

The process of repatriating the body of the deceased should begin with an appeal to the deceased’s insurance service. According to the migration legislation of the Russian Federation, every foreigner arriving on the territory of Russia is required to be issued a certificate of insurance for the entire period of stay in the country. The minimum amount of the insured sum is based on the principle of reciprocity, and for Estonian citizens is equal to 30 thousand euros at the official exchange rate of the Bank of Russia on the date when the insurance contract was signed. The certificate of insurance establishes the obligation of the insurer to pay the costs associated with providing emergency and urgent care to the certificate holder – and the costs of repatriating his remains in the event of his death. However, the obligations of the insurance company do not end there. In the event of the death of the insured person, the insurer is expected to assist relatives (or legal representatives) of the deceased, namely:

  • Explain the nuances of Russian legislation and mortal remains transportation to the Republic of Estonia;
  • Undertake the organization and payment for the transportation of the body of the deceased Estonian citizen to his homeland according to the terms of the contract;
  • Provide information about the process of the posthumous repatriation of the deceased;
  • Provide a list of funeral agencies that are qualified to transport mortal remains across the border.

Note! Generally, it is not worth postponing contacting the insurance service, as, to initiate the process of returning remains of the deceased to their homeland, the insurer will need some time to arrange its resources and employees and coordinate with the Estonian funeral agency.

In case the Estonian citizen at the time of death did not have a certificate of insurance policy that would cover the costs of his repatriation? Unfortunately, in such a situation, all organizational and financial issues related to the transportation of his remains will fall on the shoulders of relatives or legal representatives.

3. Contact the Estonian Consulate in Russia

In the event of illness, accident, or death of a loved one abroad, every Estonian citizen has the right to seek the help of his country’s diplomatic mission. Moreover, this must be done as soon as possible, especially if the deceased didn’t possess a valid certificate of insurance. Although the consulate does not provide financial assistance to the families of the deceased abroad, they can provide the most up-to-date information on local migration and funeral law, clarify the estimated cost of posthumous repatriation, and provide contact details of qualified funeral agencies. The Estonian mission also issues the necessary documents for body repatriation and can help organize inheritance matters.

4. Collect documents necessary for crossing the border with the remains of the deceased

To transport mortal remains, you will need to collect a set of documents, including:

  • The original of the Russian death certificate (stamped);
  • Original documents confirming the Estonian citizenship of the deceased: passport or birth/registration certificate;
  • Certificates of cargo compliance with the rules for transporting mortal remains across the border: certificate of sealing and the absence of foreign investments, certificate of embalming, certificate of the absence of infectious diseases;
  • Permission to export the body from the Russian Federation;
  • Application for customs declaration.

All these documents must be submitted both in Russian and Estonian. The translation must be certified by a notary and properly stamped.

Important! Above is a general list of documents required to organize the transportation of mortal remains across the Russian border. For up-to-date information on this matter, contact the Estonian consulate.

5. Arrange body reception at the airport/train station in Estonia

Funeral agencies do not have any authority to operate in another country, and any obligations of the insurance company end the moment the body of the deceased arrives at the airport/train station of destination. Therefore, you should prepare in advance for the arrival of the remains. Prepare everything you need to meet the cargo, including hearse transport to transport the body to the morgue/cemetery.

Important! Due to the coronavirus pandemic, anyone arriving in Estonia must pass a COVID-19 test and maintain mandatory quarantine for 7/10 days.

Regulations for transporting mortal remains across the border

In international practice, there are certain rules for transporting human remains across the border. To transport the body, a galvanized coffin or a coffin with a zinc liner must be used. To protect others from cadaveric poisons, the body must be embalmed and the container with the body must be hermetically sealed.

The requirements for the transportation of urns with ashes are slightly softer. As in the case of transporting the body, the urn must be hermetically sealed, and pass X-rays so that customs officers can view its contents and ensure that there are no foreign objects inside.

Modes of transporting mortal remains across the border

There are three main ways of transporting a coffin/urn with ashes across the border: by plane, by train, and by road. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. The most convenient, fast, and safe transport for this purpose is, of course, an aircraft, but you will have to pay a rather large sum for speed and convenience. Each airline has the right to set its tariffs, but the cost of transporting the body/ashes by air significantly exceeds the price of train tickets or car rent. It will be cheaper to deliver cargo by rail, but it will also take longer. Also, not every train is equipped with a freight car, and in most cases, it is unacceptable to transport the body/ashes next to passengers. Cheapness is an indisputable advantage of vehicles, but in this case, the road will take several days, and crossing the border may require additional documents. – assistance in posthumous repatriation to Estonia

With many years of experience in the funeral industry, the state funeral service has the necessary resources and qualifications to organize the posthumous repatriation of citizens of the Republic of Estonia to their homeland. Our employees will save you from bureaucratic red tape and arrange the transportation of your loved one home in the shortest time possible. For detailed advice on the burial of a foreigner in Russia or his return home, call the hotline +7 (495) 100-3-100 . Our specialists work around the clock.

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