Information in Cases of Death and Disposition of Remains
The Consular Section can assist family and friends in the event of the death of an American Citizen in Luxembourg. If requested by the next of kin, the Consular Section will act as liaison in arranging the disposition or shipping of remains and help with forwarding personal effects. The family or legal representative must pay all funeral home charges, shipping costs of the remains and personal effects (if applicable). In case of shipment of human remains abroad, the Consular Section will work with any funeral home selected by the family to ensure proper documentation for shipment of remains to the United States.
Even if no assistance is needed in making funeral arrangements, the death of an American citizen, whether resident or tourist, should be reported to the U.S. Embassy so that a Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad can be issued. This document is necessary to settle legal and estate matters in the United States.
Major Funeral Homes used by U.S. citizens
DISCLAIMER: The U.S. Embassy Luxembourg 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 alphabetically, and the order in which they appear has no other significance. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the funeral directors, morticians and other service providers.
In Luxembourg, interment or cremation cannot occur less than 24 hours after a death, but it must take place within 72 hours. Any extension must be approved by the ‘Direction de la Santé’, the Ministry of Health.
Refrigerated morgues are available in hospitals, at the airport, and in the ‘communes’ (administrative municipalities). Small communes usually only have space for one casket in the morgue. The cost is approximately $70 USD for up to three days, and $25 USD for each additional day. If the death occurred at home or on the premises of a commune, the body will be placed in a casket in the communal morgue until the funeral. Funeral homes can be contacted 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The deceased will be taken to the morgue in a temporary casket. Public viewing is not allowed – either in a residence or a funeral home. Private viewing by close family is possible in a separate room at the morgue before the casket is brought to the funeral ceremony. Funeral homes in Luxembourg offer qualified and experienced services and make all necessary arrangements in consultation with the next of kin.
Embalming is not customary for interment in Luxembourg; if requested, it can be performed by a contractor from neighboring Belgium. The cost for embalming is approximately USD 800. The funeral home makes the necessary arrangements. There is no requirement for embalming in Luxembourg except for shipment of human remains abroad.
– Legal (forensic) autopsy: Under Luxembourgish law, the General Prosecutor must order that an autopsy be conducted if there is any indication of suspicious circumstances, violent or unnatural death. The Parquet (judicial authority) will bear the expenses of the autopsy. In the event of an autopsy, the funeral must be postponed until authorized by the Parquet.
– Medical (hospital) autopsy: Luxembourg authorities can request that an autopsy be conducted in case of unconfirmed or unknown cause of death; it is mandatory for stillborns. The hospital will bear the expenses of the autopsy.
An autopsy can also be requested and paid for by the family of the deceased. The family has the right to appoint a doctor of their choosing who will attend the autopsy at their expense.
In Luxembourg, cremation is only possible in the crematorium in Hamm, a public and independent institution in a suburb of Luxembourg City. Before any cremation can take place, an official of the commune where the death occurred has to issue a transport and cremation permit. Cremation will only be authorized if the deceased had declared his wish to be cremated in a notarized statement or, if there is no statement, the next of kin signs a written request at the funeral home. A request from a legal guardian will only be recognized if the deceased gave specific authorization to the guardian in a notarized statement.
The ashes can either be deposited in a columbarium at the cemetery (minimum cost USD 150), or they can be scattered in a specific plot available in certain ‘communes’, at the cemetery in Merl, or in the ‘Jardin du souvenir’ (Garden of Remembrance) adjacent to the crematorium. It is not permitted to keep cremated remains (“cremains”) at home. Most communes offer placement in a columbarium on the ground of the cemetery. As a temporary arrangement, ashes can be stored at the funeral home or at the crematory for three months before making a final decision. The funeral home can arrange for shipment of cremains abroad.
Cost for funeral home arrangements including casket, transport to the crematorium and administrative fees is approximately USD 2200.
Cost for the cremation is approximately USD 500 – 900.
Caskets and Containers
Wooden caskets are widely used for interment in Luxembourg; funeral homes offer a large choice in various price ranges (minimum cost USD 1100). Metal caskets are not allowed for interment. A zinc-lined, hermetically sealed casket is required, if human remains are transported more than 350 km by hearse or if shipped by air.
Burial plots in Luxembourg can be rented for an initial period of 15 or 30 years, renewable after end of those terms. The descendants of the deceased will be contacted (The commune will contact the family, put a note on the tomb informing that the concession will expire soon and put a publication in three different newspapers in Luxembourg). Cost for a single plot is approximately USD 250-500 for 15 years. A family vault can be rented for approximately USD 2000 for 15 years, and USD 3000 for 30 years. Cemeteries are owned and maintained by the ‘communes’, the municipal council can grant burial plots and family vaults. Any person providing for the funeral can have a monument set up for the deceased, according to regulations established by the municipal council. The tombstone will be provided and set up by a monumental mason (minimum USD 5000).
Exportation of human remains
Local requirements for the exportation of human remains to the United States:
- Local death certificate
- Consular Mortuary Certificate (required for customs clearance)
- Affidavit by the local funeral director (casket contains only the remains of the deceased and the necessary clothing and/or packing material; may also contain a statement that the body has been embalmed or otherwise prepared)
- Transit Permit (authorizes export of the remains; issued by the health authority). Funeral homes in Luxembourg are familiar with this document.
- Transit label affixed to the outer container (gives pertinent info on deceased, contacts in U.S., and shipment details) – Funeral homes in Luxembourg are familiar with this document.
Exportation of human Cremains/Ashes
For shipments of ashes to the United States, the following documents are required:
- Local death certificate
- Cremation certificate (document from the crematory certifying that the deceased was cremated on a specific date)
- Certificate from the crematory stating that the container holds only the cremated remains of the deceased
The funeral home makes necessary arrangements for transportation by air or any convenient shipment of human remains abroad. Administrative fees amount to USD 600-900, in addition to USD 900 for required embalming and USD 1000 for preparation of remains for shipment (including the required zinc-lined, hermetically sealed casket). Airfreight charges will be calculated depending on the flight route and carrier. An international repatriation of remains can cost thousands of dollars in cargo.
A funeral home in the country of destination must be retained beforehand and communicated to the Luxembourg funeral home. If the cause of death was a quarantinable communicable disease or religious beliefs prohibit embalming or cremation, a permit from the CDC is required for entry into the United States.
Shipping – options for in-country transportation
As Luxembourg is a small country, in-country transportation of human remains is carried out by hearse (approximate cost is USD 100). The funeral home makes the necessary arrangements and requests transport permits and certificates from the commune. There are no direct commercial flights to the U.S. from the Luxembourg airport. The international freight carrier airline Cargolux operates several direct routes from Luxembourg to airports in the U.S. Transit via Frankfurt, Germany, is often the best connection to an airport in the U.S. The funeral home will provide required transit permits (laissez-passer) and request a Consular Mortuary Certificate from the U.S. Embassy to facilitate U.S. customs clearance.
Transportation of cremains by hearse is possible, but not required (except to neighboring Germany). Airline passengers carrying cremated remains should notify the airline when making the flight reservation. The funeral home will prepare a properly sealed and sift-proof container and document it with a certificate showing the final destination and an identification number. It is not advisable to send cremains by mail.
Special requirements for deaths by infectious disease or under suspicious circumstances
The Parquet (judicial authority) must be notified of any death caused by infectious disease or suspicious circumstances. Embalming is not allowed in case of highly contagious disease.
Importing Remains to the United States
CDC requirements for importing human remains depend upon if the body has been embalmed, cremated, or if the person died from a quarantinable communicable disease .
At this time, COVID-19 is a quarantinable communicable disease in the United States and the remains must meet the standards for importation found in 42 Code of Federal Regulations Part 71.55 and may be cleared, released, and authorized for entry into the United States only under the following conditions:
- The remains are cremated; OR
- The remains are properly embalmed and placed in a hermetically sealed casket; OR
- The remains are accompanied by a permit issued by the CDC Director. The CDC permit (if applicable) must accompany the human remains at all times during shipment.
- Permits for the importation of the remains of a person known or suspected to have died from a quarantinable communicable disease may be obtained through the CDC Division of Global Migration and Quarantine by calling the CDC Emergency Operations Center at 770-488-7100 or emailing email@example.com.
Please see CDC’s guidance for additional information.
Exhumation is only possible if requested within a few months (usually not more than five months) after interment or after five years. It must be authorized by the Ministry of Health and the commune owning the cemetery. The exhumation must be supervised by officials as designated by the Ministry of Health.
Charges are based on the consular exchange rate of February 1, 2021: USD1.00 = 0.85Euro
- Local burial: minimum USD 3600
Fees include transportation by hearse, wooden casket, morgue fee, mortician’s charges, administrative fees, renting of a burial plot for an initial period of 15 years in Luxembourg City, basic tombstone, and civil or religious service.
- Cremation and local disposal of ashes: minimum USD 2700
Fees include transportation to crematorium, administrative fees, morgue fee, cremation, cinerary urn, civil or religious ceremony.
- Preparation and shipment of human remains: minimum USD 2500 (excluding airfreight costs and U.S. funeral costs)
Fees include administrative fees, morgue fee, flight arrangements, embalming, preparation of a special container required for shipment of remains, transportation to airport.
- Cremation and air shipment of ashes: minimum USD 2400 (excluding airfreight costs)
Fees include casket, transportation to crematorium, cremation, morgue fee, preparation of cremains for shipment in a special container.
Local Customs regarding funerals and memorial services
Interment has been the custom in Luxembourg for decades, though the number of cremations is increasing. The funeral service will be organized after consultation with an official from the commune, the pastor and the funeral home (the funeral home can make all those arrangements for the next of kin or family). The deceased is brought to the communal morgue or its chapel of rest. A memorial ceremony of civil or religious nature in the presence of an official will take place before the interment. Obituary notices advertising the memorial service are generally published in the local newspapers.
Funeral allowance from CNS (Caisse nationale de Santé)
The funeral allowance is paid in the amount of the expenses incurred by the person or institution that advanced them, or, if a public body arranged the funeral through an undertaker, directly to the latter.
The deceased must have been a contributor to a Luxembourg health insurance scheme, usually the CNS (Caisse nationale de Santé, Luxembourg social security fund). The original invoices pertaining to the funeral must be sent to the relevant health insurance fund, along with a copy of the death certificate.
Religious Organizations and Services in Luxembourg
Country Profile: Host Country Religion, Luxembourg
Freedom of worship is guaranteed in the Luxembourgish Constitution.
Roman Catholics make up the majority in Luxembourg. However, there are also Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Orthodox Christians, Baha’is, Hindus, Buddhists, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and more.
English language religious services are available in Luxembourg. Please see the list below and explore the linked websites for more information:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: