(Updated February 2018)
A. Maximum Period of Before Burial
Zambian law does not specify a period of time in which burial of remains must take place, regardless of whether the remains have been embalmed or not. However, Zambia is a semi-tropical country, and it is customary that burials take place soon after death. The normally acceptable time period is three days, after which additional storage charges may accrue.
Embalming facilities exist at Ambassador St. Ann Funeral Home and FSG Ltd (Ideal Funeral Home). The standards are acceptable, but vary depending on the condition of the body at the time of preparation. Facilities for holding embalmed remains are available.
Cremation is permitted in Zambia. Once cremation is completed, the remains are then placed in an urn which is enclosed in a container for return to the United States as air cargo. Shipment via parcel post is not recommended. No courier companies based in Zambia accept shipping of cremated human remains, so shipping must be completed via air freight. Some air carriers (such as Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines and South African Airways) permit the transport of cremated remains as part of a passenger’s checked or carry-on luggage.
Human Ashes: (air freight)
- Cremation Certificate
- Consular Report of Death
- Death Certificate
- Consular Mortuary Certificate
- Affidavit from local funeral director concerning contents of urn
- Certified copy of the deceased’s passport
D. Casket and Containers
Caskets and containers are available locally and meet international shipping requirements. The remains are placed in a zinc casket, which is hermetically sealed. The casket is placed in a wooden crate prior to air shipment.
E. Exportation of Remains
Local requirements for exportation of remains are as follows:
a). Embalming Certificate (issued by the funeral home after they have completed the process).
b). Death Certificate issued by the local Registrar of Deaths.
c). Removal Certificate and Burial Permit issued by the local City Council and Ministry of Health, respectively.
d). Hospital’s Cause of Death Certificate, the “Brought in Dead” (BID) Certificate or Postmortem Certificate.
e). Non-infectious Disease Certificate: If the family of the deceased decides not to have a postmortem done it will cost between US$200-300 for physical examination and certificates. If a postmortem is done (sometimes required by the government), then the whole procedure, including court documents, postmortem, and certificate costs between US$ 600-800. Please note that even if the family declines a post-mortem, the government of Zambia may still require it in cases where it is believed that there might have been foul play and the case is likely to turn into a case for the state. The Penal Code Cap 87 of the Laws of Zambia S.200 provides a definition for murder.
f). Local customs exportation form stating casket and shipping case contain human remains only. This is a three-part process: The permit to remove the body from Zambia is issued by the Ministry of Health Provincial Medical Officer. Then the Director of Public Health at Lusaka City Council issues his authority for removal. Finally, the funeral home signs the Affidavit concerning contents of casket.
g). Transit label with information regarding the deceased and the consignee (U.S. funeral home) and/or escort.
h). Certified copy of the deceased’s passport
i). Consular Report of Death
j). Consular Mortuary Certificate
Dollar costs at the time of submission of this report have been converted from the cost of local currency at an exchange rate of ZMW11.00 (Zambian Kwacha) to USD 1.00 (exchange rate fluctuations are very common). Please contact the Embassy’s consular section at ACSLusaka@state.gov or +260-211-357-000 for the latest exchange rate information.
Prices are subject to change without notice.
- Local interment without embalming:
ZMW2156.00 to ZMW11759.00
USD$196.00 to $1069.00
- Local interment with embalming:
ZMW3311.00 to ZMW 12,914.00
USD$301.00 to $1174.00
- Preparation for shipment of human remains by air:
ZMW 35,750.00 or USD $3,250.00 (Includes container, embalming, documents, casket,
coffin and delivery to airport for shipment). This price is exclusive of freight charges.
Refer to Note 9.
- Cremation, Death Certificate, urn and documents:
- Transportation: When death occurs in rural areas of Zambia, the remains may be transferred to Lusaka for preparation. Transportation is charged at a rate of ZMW7.00 – ZMW10.00 or $0.64 -$0.91 per kilometer one way. There is an additional logistics charge of ZMW1,100.00 ($100.00) per trip.
- Additional Charges:
Preparation of remains for local burial: These are the costs for basic preparation of a body for local burial. In this case, the family would provide transportation of remains.
Between ZMW1298.00 to ZMW4752.00 – USD$118.00 to $432.00
The following are estimates of round trip distances and transportation costs between Lusaka and other Zambian cities including the logistics charge.
The average weight of a casket and container with remains being transported by air is 230 kilograms. Listed below are the air shipment estimated costs from Lusaka to various points in the continental United States..
|Cost per Kilogram||USD|
The following fixed charges and additional charges will be added on every shipment:
|Screening Charge||0.20 USD/Kg|
Below are the estimated costs for shipment of remains from Lusaka to several cities in the United States.
|New York||USD 5,800.60|
|San Francisco||USD 5,911.64|
Note that there may be local delays to conduct the postmortem report and issuance of required certificates for export, making it difficult to predict when the deceased’s remains will arrive in the United States for a funeral. Remains are shipped by air cargo. Zambia does not have a National Airline but has sound relations with other partner airlines. Most Airlines do not require quarantine procedures. Please note that airline schedules and rules can change.
G. Exhumation and Shipment
There is no time restriction on the exhumation of remains in Zambia.
The grave may be disinterred at any time upon written request of the deceased’s family members. In this case the family would need to show legal documentation showing that they are the administrator of the estate. The permission to disinter is given in writing by the local authorities. The actual exhumation is done by the City/District Council’s Health and Human Services Division where the grave is located. Further, the Coroner has the power to order exhumation under S. 7 of the Inquests Act Cap 36 of the Laws of Zambia.
Once the body has been exhumed the funeral home can handle the documentation and preparation of the body for shipment to the United States.
There are charges for all services and additional costs may apply, depending on how long the body has been buried. The funeral homes, the local authorities, and the Zambian Government require three months’ notice for exhumation.
Public Health Act Cap 295 of the Laws of Zambia in S.93 (1) provides the following: Subject to the provisions of section ninety-four, it shall not be lawful to exhume anybody or the remains of anybody which may have been interred in any authorized cemetery or any other cemetery, burial ground or other place without a permit granted in manner hereinafter provided.
The Inquests Act Cap 36 of the Laws of Zambia in S.14 requires that an autopsy be conducted for all non-natural deaths. Charges may range from ZMW 4,000.00 to ZMW 5,000.00 ($730.00 to $910.00) inclusive of all materials needed to conduct the postmortem, the post mortem report, and the expedite fee recommended).
The family should also supply 6 pairs of gloves to the pathologist (or provide money for the cost of gloves). This charge does not include the pathologist actually traveling if the remains are outside Lusaka. Pathologist travel incurs a separate fee.
While autopsy may be waived by local magistrates upon formal application by the deceased’s family, lack of autopsy may render it impossible to issue the non-infectious disease certificate required to repatriate a body to the United States. Without this certificate, local burial may be the only option.
The Coroner is empowered under The Inquests Act Cap 36 of the Laws of Zambia S.18 to summon witnesses or demand documents relevant to the inquisition.
List of Local Funeral Homes
The U.S. Embassy in Lusaka, Zambia, assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the following facilities. Inclusion on this list is in no way an endorsement by the U.S. Department of State or the U.S. Embassy. Names are listed alphabetically, and the order in which they appear has no other significance. The information in the list on professional credentials, areas of expertise and language ability are provided directly by the facilities.
Ambassador St. Ann Funeral Home:
Address 1: Headquarters in Lusaka along Mumbwa Road.
Tel: +260-(211)288148; +260-(211)286904
Hours of Service: 24-hour service.
Funeral Director: Kelvin Ngolofwane Cell: +260-(955)067209
Has over 18 years’ experience in preparing remains for shipment overseas.
Local Death Certificates:
Local Death certificates are issued by the Registrar of Deaths, Births and Marriages upon receipt of the report on the cause of death and a copy of the identity card, or a copy of the U.S. passport, by the Registrar of Deaths with jurisdiction over either the deceased’s place of residence or the place of death. The certificates are written in English. The Birth and Death Registration Act Cap 51 of the Laws of Zambia provides in S. 18(5) that Notice of Death should be given to the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages within 48 hours of the Death. Funeral homes generally handle the process due to their close working relationship with the responsible persons at the Registrar’s office.
Please visit the U.S. Department of State’s website at: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/while-abroad/death-abroad1.html
The U.S. Embassy cannot assume any costs associated with burial or repatriation of a deceased U.S. citizen. All costs must be covered by the family or estate. Money can be transferred from the United States using private companies, such as Western Union or Moneygram, via the Department of State’s Overseas Citizens Services (OCS)/TRUST system or directly transferred to a local funeral home bank account in Zambia. Information on money transfers is available on: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/emergencies/emergency-financial-assistance.html
U.S. Embassy Lusaka