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Death of a U.S. Citizen in French Polynesia

French Translation (PDF, 136 KB)

French Polynesia Disposition of Remains Report (PDF, 264 KB)

What Happens First: French law requires no specific minimum time within which interment must be made; however, this should be done as quickly as possible in order to avoid any deterioration of the remains. City Hall requests that the person who discovers the body immediately contact a doctor who will issue a medical certificate.

Initial Death Certificate (Doctor’s Certificate): Regardless of where the death occurs, a doctor needs to certify the death and verify its cause. This certification will be required for burial or for shipment to take place. If the death occurs in a hospital, the attending physician will provide the certificate. An autopsy is required if the cause of death cannot be determined or certified by the physician, or if the death occurs under suspicious circumstances such as suicide or homicide. An autopsy normally takes between one to three business days. In any case, a local funeral home should be contacted as soon as possible and be given the death certificate. The funeral home can provide guidance and prepare the required French documents.

Note: When the doctor prepares the medical death certificate, he or she will include the cause of death only on the certificate he or she hands to the next-of-kin in a sealed envelope. The U.S. Embassy will need a copy of this certificate, with the cause of death included, in order to prepare the Consular Report of Death Abroad of an American Citizen.

Required Documents: Using the medical death certificate, an official death certificate showing the time, date, and place of death and the name of the doctor in charge will be obtained (usually by the funeral agent) from city hall.

How Long Does This Process Take? Two business days is the absolute minimum for shipment abroad. In most cases, it will take three to four business days for shipment. Delays will sometimes occur, due to funeral homes having to wait to receive confirmation of coverage for all expenses. Local funeral homes are familiar with the procedures and documents needed for the exportation of remains.

Maximum Period Before Burial: French law stipulates that cremation or burial must take place within two months. Exceptions may be requested.

Embalming: There are embalming facilities in French Polynesia. The law does not require the body to be embalmed unless the remains will be shipped abroad or if the appropriate local sanitary storage facilities do not exist. Embalming may not be done until a death certificate, attested by a physician, is issued, which generally takes at least 24 hours.

Cremation: There are no crematoriums located in French Polynesia, but cremation services can be arranged in New Zealand.

Caskets: There are different types of caskets available in French Polynesia. For air transport, the body must be embalmed and encased in a hermetically-sealed zinc casket.

Exportation of Remains: The same documents are required to ship bodies and ashes. They are usually obtained by the funeral home. Local requirements for the exportation of human remains are as follows:

  1. Embalmment of the remains
  2. Enclosure of the remains as described under caskets above
  3. Consular Mortuary Certificate (with the assistance of the Consular Agent)
  4. Mortician’s Certificate of embalming
  5. French Death certificate
  6. French Transit permit
  7. Certificate of non-contagion

Exhumation and Shipment: French authorities permit disinterment only with court orders.

Approximate Costs: Please note that costs can vary widely. The family in the U.S. or their power of attorney should be given a firm estimate of the costs before authorizing any payment.

Approximate Costs:

 From Bora Bora to Tahiti

Sample Cost Sheet Amount
Funeral home agent flown from Papeete $800
Taxiboat from/to Bora Airport $600
Air Archipel charter flight $4,250
Total $5,650


From Tahiti to the U.S.

Sample Cost Sheet Amount
Funeral Home services $4,000-$6,000
Air freight to the U.S. $3,700-$4200 depending on destination
Translation of documents $400
Air Tahiti transport fee (airport) $30
Europ Assistance processing fee (if applicable) $675
Total $8800-$11,500


Funeral Homes and/or Local Officials who can assist with arrangements:


PK 20,2 c/mont, Paea, Tel : 689-45-42-20


PK 4,5 c/mer, Arue, Tel: 689-41-38-38


Avenue Georges Clémenceau

Mama’o Pape’ete

BP 4486


Tel. +689 40 42 77 79