LawRefs Customized Legal Information
Attorney Renee C. Walsh

Moving a Body from Mexico to Washington

Inquiry: My mom has been deceased for 18 years. She is in Mexico. I live in Washington and I was wondering if it would be possible to move her over here. Also, do you have any idea how much it costs?

Response: As to costs, take a look at the chart at the U.S. Embassy Mexico website. There is a drop down menu for costs.

As to transporting the body, on the Mexico side, a health permit issued by the local health authority would be required to transport your mother’s remains from Mexico to Washington. In order to export her remains, you will need an Official Death Certificate, Embalming Certificate, transportation information (plane, ship, bus, etc.), and information on final destination for the remains.

You must contact the U.S. Embassy in Mexico to ensure that these documents are complete. They will issue a Consular Mortuary Certificate, which facilitates the entrance of the remains to the U.S. In order for your mother’s body to be transported out of Mexico, they must be embalmed or appropriately prepared, placed in a casket, and then encased in a certified crate.

On the Washington side, you must have a permit to bury your mother. RCW 70.58.230, RCW 70.58.250, RCW 70.58.260. Contact the registrar of the district in which you want to bury her. Tell the registrar that you want to move your mother’s body into Washington and it is your understanding that it is unlawful to transport or bury her in Washington unless she is accompanied by a transit permit issued in accordance with the law and health regulations in force where the death occurred, or unless a special permit for bringing her remains into Washington is obtained from the state registrar.

ADDITIONAL ARTICLE related to this topic

This article discusses legal information and principles, and is not to be considered legal advice.

Discussion:

  1. My grandmother passed away 10 yrs ago. She is currently buried in Puerto Rico. I’m considering moving her to New York. I would like to know if it’s possible.

  2. My oldest sister passed away Feb 18,2014. My brother’s wife arranged to receive financial assistance from the State to bury her, but I don’t think that was necessary because I think my sister had enough money. My father and siblings would have provided financial assistance if she had included us. I heard bad reviews about how indigent people are buried and I worry about my sister’s body. I would like to know how much would it cost and what would I need to move my sister’s body to another location.

    • Dear Trina:

      The fact that the State helped pay for the costs of burial does not necessarily bear on the standard of service that your sister received, especially if she had loved ones involved in the process. Contact the funeral director involved and ask him about the services provided for her. If you feel that she should be moved, the funeral director would be the person to provide you with a signed Affidavit (applicable to Michigan) to disinter which can then be submitted to the local health officer who has the authority to issue the required permit. You will see from the affidavit contents that you are going to need consent of the surviving kin and this would be true outside Michigan as well. You will also note that you are allowed to transport the body yourself, under the supervision of the funeral director and thus, you can pose that issue to him in your discussion.

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