The difficulty of losing a loved one may be compounded by logistical and communication problems when the loss occurs overseas. The U.S. Embassy in Paramaribo can provide assistance in some key areas following the death of a U.S. citizen.
However, it is critical that families contact a funeral home to help them carry out funeral arrangements and/or repatriation of remains to the U.S. The Embassy maintains a list of funeral homes operating within Suriname and French Guiana. Funeral services and preparations are carried out in accordance with the laws and facilities available in Suriname or in French Guiana, in some cases, services may be different from those expected in the U.S.
Although Embassy staff is unable to act as agents for American citizens making funeral arrangements, they can assist with the following:
- Help locate and notify the next-of-kin of a U.S. citizen’s passing.
- Inform families about Surinamese or French legal requirements for claiming a loved one’s remains.
- Issue a Consular Report of Death Abroad for a deceased U.S. citizen. This document is based on the Surinamese or French death certificate and may be used in most legal proceedings in the United States as proof of death overseas.
- Issue a Consular Mortuary Certificate. The Consular Mortuary Certificate is one of the documents that the funeral home will need in order to transport the decedent’s remains to the United States for burial. A representative from the funeral home will work with the Embassy to obtain this document.
- Assist in shipping the decedent’s personal effects to the United States.
- Act as estate executor in the absence of a family member or legal counsel.
The next-of-kin is responsible for all costs relating to the funeral home and/or shipment of remains or personal effects.
- The next-of-kin is also responsible for carrying out the funeral arrangements with substantial assistance from the contracted funeral home.
- Please be aware that in order to confirm the relationship between the decedent and the person purporting to be the next-of-kin, Surinamese or French authorities will often request identification documents for both the decedent and the next-of-kin, such as passports, birth certificates, and/or marriage certificates.
- Costs for funeral services and repatriation can vary greatly depending on the services chosen. Please see below for estimated costs based on recent services from Surinamese or French funeral homes.
The following information is provided to assist families with their initial decisions following the death of a loved one:
Certification and Registration Of Death by Surinamese Authorities
In cases of natural death, a licensed physician will prepare the death report. The report of death will be filed with the Surinamese Civil Registry (CBB) to issue the official Surinamese death certificate (Overlijdens Akte).
However, in cases of accidental, violent or undetermined cause of death, a licensed physician will declare the death but police authorities will seize the dead body and a pathologist will determine the cause of death. Please note that the death report only goes to the prosecutor.
The physician will issue the report of death for civil registry but will give it the police in case there is an investigation ongoing.
An autopsy is NOT mandatory in all non-natural death cases. The prosecutor and police (sometimes after consulting with the physician on the scene) who handle the case will make the decision whether an autopsy is needed.
It should be noted that the autopsy report is NOT a public document that is routinely provided to the next of kin of deceased foreigners, or to the Embassy.
Identification of Remains
The Surinamese Attorney Generals’ office orders the retaining of remains for up to a year to allow for identification. As for evidence in criminal cases, this period can be extended.
Surinamese law requires identification based on visual identification, fingerprints, dental records and or DNA.
Local law permits cremation. There are two crematoriums in Suriname and several places in the country where cremation by burning the body on a wood pyre is available.
Local requirements for cremation of human remains are as follows
- Authorization of the pathologist who performed the autopsy (death certificate)
- Placement of the remains in a wooden coffin
- An cremation license from the Ministry of Justice and Police
- Presence of the agent of the Ministry of Justice and Police
- Authorization from the civil authorities
- Crematorium Gerhardina, Dr. Sophie Redmondstraat 246, Tel: 425-205
- Algemeen Crematorium, Dr. Sophie Redmondstraat 246B, Tel: 521-545
Cremation by burning the body on a wood pyre
- Crematie oord at Weg naar Zee (prior arrangement with a funeral home is required)
In Suriname, the law specifies that remains are to be embalmed within 48 hours of death when transported out of the country. The embalmment has a period of approximately ten years. Normally remains are embalmed for transport to USA, Netherlands or any other country. Typically when a family decides to embalm the remains it is done either immediately or shortly after death. There is no time limit for embalming under Surinamese law when it regards keeping the remains in the country. There are several qualified morticians in Paramaribo; fewer in the outlying districts. Whether in the capital or outlying areas, embalming falls far below U.S. standards. Complete arterial replacement of bodily fluids is not practiced; and ‘partial’ or ‘segmented’ embalming is the norm. It is common for the embalmer to remove the internal organs of the body during the procedure; internal organs must be removed if the body is to be exported from the country.
Caskets and Containers
When human remains are to be transported out of the country, they are placed in a hermetically sealed metal coffin which is then placed in a wooden coffin. The wooden coffin is placed in a wooden shipping case for shipment by air. The coffins are of good quality, and are suitable for direct burial upon return of remains. The locally available caskets and containers meet the requirements for shipment out of the country.
Exportation of Remains
Ashes and remains may be exported upon receipt of a death certificate from the Public Health Office (Bureau voor Openbare Gezondheidszorg) and an export permit from Ministry of Justice and Police. A local mortician is familiar with all the procedures for shipment of remains out of the country and can assist a family or the Embassy in making such arrangements.
Local requirements for exportation of human remains are as follows:
- Embalming the remains
- Authorization of the Pathologist who performed the autopsy (death certificate)
- Placement of the remains in appropriate caskets and containers, as described in CASKETS AND CONTAINERS
- Authorization from local civil authorities
- An export license from Ministry of Justice and Police
- Authorization of the Ministry of Health
- Authorization of Customs and the Suriname Airport Corporation
- Authorization of the Airline
- Presence of the agent of the Ministry of Justice and Police
Consular Report of Death Abroad
The Consular Section at the Embassy of the United States prepares a Report of Death of a U.S. Citizen Abroad for every U.S. citizen civilian who dies in Suriname. This certificate is based on the Surinamese death certificate and is valid for use in the United States. In addition, a consular mortuary certificate is prepared if the remains are to be shipped to the United States. Unless the legal next-of-kin is in Suriname or another person is chosen as provisional custodian, a Consular Officer acts on behalf of the executor as the provisional custodian of the estate of any U.S. citizen.
Up to twenty copies of the Report of Death of a U.S. Citizen Abroad, issued at the time of death, will be provided to the next-of-kin free of charge. If in the future you find you need additional copies, they can be obtained for a fee.
The estimated costs of transportation of a deceased body to the United States of America includes:
- Mortuary costs including embalming and packing for transport
- The costs of a metal coffin, wooden coffin, shipping container, export license, transportation to the Airport, translation of documents and cost of handling.
- Costs of air freight.
The transportation of a deceased body costs between US$ 3500.00 up to US$ 5000.00, depending on the final destination.
Below is a breakdown of the estimate costs for transportation:
- Transport costs from the mortuary to J.A.P. Airport – $150
- Transport costs and handling fee at the airport from Paramaribo to Miami, Florida – $3500
- Pathologist fee – $525
- Mortuary costs (dressing) – $275
- Documents – $175
Miami is the only available port of entry to the U.S.
Funeral Home Directors
J.A. Pengelstraat 174
Mr. M. J. Radjbali (owner)
Phone numbers: 08807034/420870 (office during daytime)
475125 (office in the evening)
Dr. Sophie Redmondstraat 246
Mr. J. Hennep
Phone numbers: 425205 or 08760199 08801369 or 08681795
Hernhutterstraat 115 – 119
Mr. Jefry Poese
Phone numbers: 402577, 401785, 400900, or 08294000
Stichting Uitvaartverzorging Wijngaarde
Mr. R. Wijngaarde
Phone numbers: 497591 or 08524748