If you live outside the Netherlands and you think you will die there, or you live in the Netherlands but wish to die abroad, check what you can arrange now for yourself and your surviving relatives.
If you have an incurable disease and have Dutch health insurance, you can get palliative care abroad (information in Dutch) under the Chronic Care Act (Wlz). This is care that helps maintain your quality of life for as long as possible in the final stage of your life.
You can get palliative care outside the Netherlands for up to 1 year. This depends on your personal situation and on how you are insured. For more information contact your health insurer.
If you already know that you want to be buried or cremated abroad, you can already make certain arrangements. First of all let your family know that you do not want to be returned to the Netherlands after your death.
Purchase a grave or grave rights
In some cases you can purchase a grave or grave rights. Ask local funeral directors about the options and costs.
Take account of local customs
Different rules and customs may apply outside the Netherlands. For example, not all countries allow cremation. In some countries it is customary to embalm the body in order to preserve it for longer.
Check whether your insurer will cover the costs
If you have funeral insurance in the Netherlands, check whether the insurer will cover the costs of a funeral abroad, either partially or in full. If you are not yet insured, check whether you can take out funeral insurance in the country where your funeral will take place.
Let your surviving relatives know what you have arranged
If you are insured give your relatives a copy of the insurance policy so they can see what is covered.
You can also make a list of wishes for your funeral. You do not need a notary for this. Share your list with the people who will be arranging your funeral. Good to know: a list of wishes is not a legally valid document. So your relatives are not legally required to fulfil all of your wishes.
If you don’t make any arrangements surviving relatives decide
If you don’t make any arrangements your relatives will decide what happens after your death. If they can’t or don’t want to pay for the funeral the local authorities will usually arrange a simple burial or cremation. They can’t always fulfil your wishes or those of your relatives.
If you want to be buried or cremated in the Netherlands after your death abroad, your body will have to be returned to the Netherlands (repatriation). How that is done depends on how you are insured.
If you are not insured
If you are not insured, the surviving relatives will have to pay for your repatriation. If they can’t or don’t want to pay, the only option is a funeral outside the Netherlands. If your relatives do not arrange this, the local authorities will arrange a simple burial or cremation. Your relatives may be able to take an urn or ash container to the Netherlands.
You can make a list of wishes for your funeral. You do not need a notary for this. Share your list with the people who will be arranging your funeral. Good to know: a list of wishes is not a legally valid document. So your relatives are not legally required to fulfil all of your wishes.
If you have dealings with Dutch organisations, such as for your tax returns or old age pension (AOW), your surviving relatives will have to report your death to these organisations. Let them know which organisations they need to report a death in a foreign country to.
If you have any problems, we can help you.