Planning your funeral when living in Spain

Planning your funeral when living in Spain main image

Whether you are already living is Spain or when you make the decision to retire to a European country, the last thing you will want to think about is what arrangements you would like to make to cover the eventuality that you pass away whilst living abroad. However, this is an important issue and, however remote you may think the chances are that you or one of your loved ones will die in the near future, you should make a clear plan to cover the possibility. 

There are various factors that you will need to consider in your planning, the first of which is the question of where you would like the funeral to take place. 

Location for the Funeral 

If you decide to have a funeral in the country that you have retired to, you need to be aware that the processes and regulations may not necessarily be the same as they are in the UK and that the language barrier can make the task of completing the formalities and organising the funeral more taxing. 

Spanish law, for instance, requires the police to be notified and a local doctor contacted. The doctor issues a temporary certificate and a local funeral director is then engaged. Despite the difficulties that they face, however, many UK expats who retire to Europe do, nevertheless, decide that they want the funeral to be held in their adopted country, especially if their loved ones intend to remain there. 

As an alternative to a local funeral, you may prefer your remains to be repatriated to the UK for the funeral. Once again, you need to be familiar with the formalities, including, in the case of Spain, the requirement to notify the undertaker of the death, proving the deceased’s identity and the need for the body to embalmed before it is removed. 

Local undertakers in Spain are well able to organise the repatriation procedures and will supply the caskets that are a legal requirement for the international carriage of a deceased person. Official documentation, including a local civil registry death certificate, a certificate of embalming and a certificate authorising the transfer of the remains to the UK may be needed before the body can be shipped home. 

The third alternative, which is popular because it can be less expensive than the other two, is for a cremation to be held in the adopted country and the ashes to be repatriated to the UK. There are fewer formalities involved in bringing ashes into the UK and, as long as you make sure that the airline that you use is happy to transport ashes, your next of kin can bring them back to the UK in person. Alternatively, the local undertaker will be able to organise transportation following the cremation. 

Paying for a funeral 

Whichever of these alternatives you prefer, the issue of funding the funeral will be the most important part of your planning and you need to ensure that there is provision for payment for the funeral and associated expenses. Some people set aside a lump sum that is earmarked to pay for their funeral. Others use the proceeds of a life insurance policy to pay the funeral costs whilst others take out a dedicated funeral policy or a funeral plan. 

Prepaid funeral plans, of the type that Golden Leaves offer, are becoming more and more popular amongst UK expats who wish to plan for the future and ensure that their families are not left to foot the bill for their funeral.  Avalon and Golden Leaves are the main providers of funeral plans for expats and are able to both reduce the stress and ensure that arrangements are in place when the time comes. In addition to Spain, Golden Leaves also cover Cyprus and Portugal and provide the opportunity to plan and pre-pay for the funeral of your choice in advance. 


Planning for your funeral when you retire abroad will ensure that, when you pass away, your next of kin are able to grieve without any unnecessary financial or practical strain. As such, it should be a key component of your retirement plan.

Funeral plans for expats

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