Death of a U.S. Citizen

The American Citizen Services can assist family and friends in the event of the death of a U.S. citizen in Poland.  We can act as liaison in arranging the disposition of remains and help with forwarding personal effects.  The family or legal representative must pay all funeral home charges, shipping costs for the remains and personal effects (if applicable).  We will work with any funeral home selected by the family to ensure proper documentation for shipment of remains to the United States. We also maintain a list of a few funeral homes that have experience with international shipment of remains.

Even if no assistance is needed in making funeral arrangements, the death of a U.S. citizen, whether resident or tourist in Poland, should be reported to the Embassy or Consulate so that a Report of Death of a U.S. Citizen Abroad can be issued.  This document is necessary to settle legal and estate matters in the United States.

For more information on death of a U.S. citizen in Poland please see below: Information on disposition of remains in Poland.

Additional information regarding death of a U.S. citizen abroad is available at the Department of State website.

Report of Death of a U.S. Citizen Abroad is a document that is necessary to settle legal and estate matters in the United States.  The American Citizen Services Section of the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw can issue up to 20 copies of the Report of Death of an American Citizen.  Please provide the American Citizen Services with the below information about the deceased. Please also send in the deceased’s death certificate, a copy of the death record (karta zgonu) or a statement from a doctor regarding the cause of death and the deceased’s U.S. passport.

1. Full name
2. Social Security Number
3. Date and place of birth
4. Date of death
5. Place of death and place of burial
6. Last U.S. address
7. Last Polish address
8. Closest relative’s full name, address, telephone number and relationship to the deceased
9. Full name and address of a person in whose possession the effects (the property) of the deceased are.

I. Maximum Period Before Burial of Remains

The remains should not be buried or cremated until 24 hours after death. There is no time limit placed on the disposition of remains before burial when the remains are embalmed.

When remains are not embalmed and burial cannot be provided within 72 hours the body should be placed in the mortuary. Remains of people who died of infectious diseases (listed in the schedule compiled by the Minister of Health) must be removed from a flat/house immediately after death is confirmed and buried in the nearest cemetery within 24 hours.

II. Embalming:

Embalming is not mandatory in Poland but it can be performed at the request of the deceased’s family after receiving a permit from the sanitary inspectorate.

There are several embalming specialists whose services are available at hospitals and funeral agencies all over Poland.

III. Cremation

Polish Law permits cremation and there are 52 crematoria: 31 in Warsaw consular district and 21 in Krakow consular district. Polish law requires a written expression of a desire to be cremated or, if unavailable, a written statement from the immediate family member. Polish cremation procedures result in similar sized fine ash as in the U.S.

IV. Caskets and Containers:

When remains are to be transported out of the country, the body is first embalmed or cremated for shipment. Then remains should be placed in a wooden coffin with the inside lined in sheet metal or with a metal insert, or a metal casket hermetically sealed. Caskets and urns are available locally.

V. Exportation of Remains:

To export human remains the following documents are required:

  1. Death Certificate issued by the local authorities (Vital Statistics Office) where the death occurred
  2. Death Record – a doctor’s certificate, which states the cause of death
  3. Export permit issued by the local Sanitary Inspector
  4. Transit permit prepared by the Funeral Home on the basis of the local Sanitary Inspector decision
  5. Affidavit signed by the funeral home’s employee stating that the casket holds solely the properly prepared remains of the deceased.

VI. Exportation of Human Cremains/Ashes

For the shipment of ashes, the following documents are required:

  1. Death Certificate
  2. Death Record
  3. Cremation Certificate
  4. Export permit issued by the local Sanitary Inspector
  5. Transit permit prepared by the Funeral Home on the basis of the local Sanitary Inspector decision

VII. Costs:

All fees are approximate and listed in US dollars. Cost estimates listed below are based on the May 25, 2017 exchange rate of 1$ = 3.9 PLN.

  1. Local burial without embalming          $ 1300-2500
  2. Embalming                                              $ 200-250
  3. Cremation                                                $ 155
  4. Preparation for shipment of remains  $ 1200-2900
  5. Preparation for shipment of ashes      $ 790-1400
  6. Shipment of ashes to the U.S.              $    250-350
  7. Shipment of remains to the U.S.

Warsaw to New York                                             $   2500-3000

Warsaw to Chicago                                               $   2500-3000

Warsaw to Los Angeles                                         $   2700-3200

  1. Storage of Remains (per day)                 $ 13

VIII. Exhumation and Shipment: Remains may be disinterred between October 16 and April 15 one year after burial provided that the required permit from the sanitary inspector is obtained or at other times if authorized by the sanitary inspector. The remains of a person who died as a result of an infectious disease (as included on the schedule issued by the Minister of Health and Social Welfare) may not be disinterred for two years after the time of death.

IX. Local Customs Regarding Funerals, Disposition of Remains, Mourning, Memorial Services

Roman Catholic funeral services are most common in Poland. Funeral services of other denominations are also available.

In case the deceased’s identity cannot be confirmed, the deceased was destitute, or the family refuses to arrange for the funeral, the local interment is provided by Polish social services at the expense of the state.

X. Autopsies: The Prosecutor’s office may order an autopsy if:

  • death may have been or was a result of a crime
  • death was caused by an infectious disease
  • death occurred in a hospital but the cause of death cannot be determined unambiguously

An autopsy may also be conducted in certain other circumstances, e.g. when death occurred at home, but was not a result of a crime or an infectious disease.

XI. Remarks:

There will be additional costs if the remains need to be transported within country prior to their departure from the capital.

  1. Local transportation for 1 kilometer $ 0.60

Local death certificates are issued by the local Vital Statistics Office in whose jurisdiction death occurred. The certificates are based on the death record (Death Card) issued by a doctor who determined death and on the deceased’s identity document.

Cause of death is determined and appropriately recorded by a physician, in case of autopsies by a forensic physician.

There is no special license required to open a funeral home, which must be registered as a business with the city/local authorities and entered into the business register. A new business must also be reported to the Main Statistics Office and the Tax Office.

DISCLAIMER: The U.S. Embassy Warsaw, Poland assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the following persons or firms. Names are listed in geographical order, which has no other significance. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the funeral directors, morticians and other service providers.

Warsaw and Warsaw area

APOKALIPSA International Funeral Services
ul. Pułtuska 177
07-200 Wyszków
phone: 29 742 9500 24/7
cell: 601 55 77 44- 24/7, 607 872 872, 603 882 882
fax: 29 742 5790
www.apokalipsa.com.pl
biuro@apokalipsa.com.pl

BONGO Międzynarodowe Usługi Pogrzebowe
ul. Etiudy Rewolucyjnej 48,
02-643 Warszawa
phone: 22 831 0036, 22 635 2193
cell: 506 155 499, 509 024 007
fax: 22 831 7996
biuro@bongo.com.pl
www.bongo.com.pl

SOS Funeral Home
ul. Popiełuszki 6
01-501 Warszawa
phone: 22 839 9238
cell: 601 204 122
Godlewski@sosagencjafuneralna.pl
www.sosagencjafuneralna.pl

Bialystok

Centrum Pogrzebowe Andrzej Szmurło
ul. Pogodna 63
15-365 Białystok
phone: 85 744 7493 – 24/7
www.centrum-pogrzebowe.pl

Gdansk

Przedsiębiorstwo Produkcyjno- Usługowe “ZIELEŃ” Sp. z o. o.
ul. Partyzantów 76
80-254 Gdańsk
phone: 58 341 20 71/73; 58 341 73 35; 58 341 6016
cell: 601 846 616
fax: 58 345 4175
www.zielen.com.pl
zielen@zielen.pl

Lodz

Przedsiębiorstwo Usług Pogrzebowych “KLEPSYDRA” Tomasz Salski
ul. Solec 3/5
94-247 Łódź
phone: 42 633 6690
fax: 42 633 6605
www.klepsydra.pl

Lublin

Przedsiębiorstwo Usług Komunalnych Sp. z o. o.
ul. Cmentarna 8
20-325 Lublin
phone: 81 744 5031; 800 336 812- 24/7
www.puklublin.pl
puk@puk.lublin.pl

Poznan

“UNIVERSUM” Spółdzielnia Pracy
Ośrodek Usług Pogrzebowych
ul. Woźna 15 A
61-777 Poznań
phone: 61 853 1943 – 24/7
fax: 61 852 9320
www.universum-poznan.com.pl
info@universum-poznan.com.pl

Szczecin

“USKOM” Sp. z.o.o.
ul. Ku Słońcu 23/1
71-073 Szczecin
phone: 91 485 6207; 91 485 6891-24/7
cell: 607 310 090 – 24/7
fax: 91 483 5053
www.uskom.szczecin.pl
biuro@uskom.szczecin.pl