Death of a U.S. Citizen

The Special Consular Services Unit (SCS) of the American Citizen Services Section can assist family and friends in the event of the death of an American Citizen in France. The SCS Unit can act as liaison in arranging the disposition of remains and help with forwarding personal effects if there is no one present to do so on your behalf.

Even if no assistance is needed in making funeral arrangements, the death of an American citizen, whether resident or tourist in France, should be reported to the SCS Unit so that a “Consular 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.

You may reach us in Paris for this service, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., except on French and American holidays at: 01.43.12.29.97 from France, or when dialed from the U.S. 011.33.1.43.12.29.97, after business hours and on weekends. You may also write to us at: Citizeninfo@state.gov.

If the death occurred in southern France, (region of Marseille, Nice or Toulouse) you may contact the Consulate General in Marseille by telephone, Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., at 01.43.12.47.54, or 011.33.1.43.12.47.54 when dialed from the United States, except, on French and American holidays, after business hours and on weekends.  You may also write to us at: CitizeninfoMarseille@state.gov.

When we learn of the death of an American in the Paris Consular District, we will determine as quickly as possible who the next-of-kin of the deceased is and contact that person by telephone immediately. There are several important things that the next-of-kin must do in conjunction with the SCS unit.

If the death occurred in southern France, (region of Marseille, Nice or Toulouse) you may contact the Consulate General in Marseille by telephone, Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., at 01.43.12.47.54, or 011.33.1.43.12.47.54 when dialed from the United States, except, on French and American holidays, after business hours and on weekends.  You may also write to us at: CitizeninfoMarseille@state.gov .

The following general information is provided to assist families in their initial decisions. Indicated costs are estimates, based on deaths with no unusual circumstances and should be considered for guidance purposes only. These estimates also relate only to costs incurred in the Paris area (inclusive of shipping). United States funeral home costs will need to be added.

The family or legal representative must pay all funeral home expenses, shipping costs of the remains and personal effects (if applicable). The SCS Unit will work with any funeral home selected by the family to ensure proper documentation for shipment of remains to the United States. See the list of English-speaking Funeral Homes (PDF – 357 KB) that are familiar with the international shipping requirement of human remains.

Should you decide to have burial take place in France, the consular officer and local officials will take every possible care to follow your wishes as to ceremony and site of burial.

  • The costs for burial in France (not embalmed) are approximately $5,800 including a 10 year grave rental.
  • The costs for cremation and disposition of ashes in France are approximately $5,200 including 10 year niche rental.

Should you decide to have the remains returned to the U.S. for burial, the costs would be substantially greater due to the high cost of airfreight and embalming:

  • The total cost for preparation and air shipment of the remains to the East Coast of the U.S. is approximately $7,000; to the Midwest, approximately $7,200 or to the West Coast, approximately $7,400.
  • The cost of cremation and air shipment of ashes anywhere in the United States is approximately $5,500.

In Paris: you may contact our services at: Tel. 01.43.12.29.97 or send an e-mail to citizeninfo@state.gov or, contact the Department of State in Washington, D.C., Tel: (202) 647-5226 for detailed instructions on how to transmit the funds.

In Marseille: you may contact our services at: Tel. 01.43.12.47.54. or send an e-mail to citizeninfomarseille@state.gov or, contact the Department of State in Washington, D.C., Tel: (202) 647-5226 for detailed instructions on how to transmit the funds.

The “Consular Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad” is an official report that provides the essential facts concerning the death of a U.S. citizen and is based on the French death certificate.

In order to assist you with legal matters that may arise as a result of the death of your relative, certified copies of the “Consular Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad” prepared by the U.S. Embassy will be forwarded to you as soon as possible. This document is in English and can generally be used in U.S. courts to help settle estate matters, bank accounts, insurance policies, and similar matters.

To complete the Report of the Death Abroad, the next-of-kin or legal representative will have to complete and submit a list of information and documents.  To obtain this list, please send an email to: citizeninfo@state.gov or call our office.

Upon receipt of the required items, the SCS unit will prepare the “Consular Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad” and send copies to the next-of-kin and/or legal representative.  Twenty (or more if you desire) certified copies of the Report of Death are normally issued at the time of death, and will be provided free of charge.

If in the future you find that you need additional copies, submit a signed, written request including all pertinent facts along with requester’s return address and telephone number. There is a $30 fee for a certified copy of Reports of Death, and a $20 fee for each additional copy provided at the same time.  Please send a written request together with a check or money order made payable to the Department of State to the following address:

U.S. Department of State                                                                          (Telephone (202) 955-0307)
Passport Services Correspondence Branch
1111 19th St., NW, Suite 510
Washington, D.C. 20522-1705
U.S.A

Please do not hesitate to contact the Special Consular Citizens Services Section at the U.S. Embassy in Paris at citizeninfo@state.gov if you have any further questions.

If the death occurred in southern France, (region of Marseille, Nice or Toulouse) you may also contact the Consulate General in Marseille by telephone, Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., at 01.43.12.47.54, or 011.33.1.43.12.47.54 when dialed from the United States, except, on French and American holidays, after business hours and on weekends.  You may also write to us at: CitizeninfoMarseille@state.gov .

For emergency information the Embassy’s Duty Officer can be reached by telephone after working hours and on weekends by dialing: 01.43.12.22.22 in France, and 011.33.1.43.12.22.22 from the United States.

2017 DISPOSITION OF REMAINS REPORT – FRANCE

Religious Services available  (PDF 350 KB)

English Speaking funeral homes (PDF 350 KB)

Country Specific Information for France

Services Available in France Regarding Preparation and Shipment of Remains: 

French laws governing deaths are covered under Title II of the French Civil Code, as amended, and decree law 5050 of December 31, 1941, as amended by decree law No. 76‑435 of May 18, 1976.

While regulations for the disposal of human remains apply nationwide, services and prices vary by locality.

French death formalities require at least five working days and must be completed before remains can be transported to the United States.  If an autopsy is performed, the body may be retained by the medical authorities for a lengthy period of time.  Consequently, completion of the Report of Death will be delayed (see Section “remarks”).

Quality of funeral services is typically on par with those offered in the United States.

In most cases, the services of a “notaire” is required to settle an estate in France.  A notaire is a government-appointed lawyer whose role is essential for all real estate transactions:  if property is bought, sold, donated or inherited, a notaire will draft the act, record it, levy the appropriate taxes (such as inheritance taxes), and deliver the deeds of property.  In addition to handling real estate transactions, a notaire will also assist with closing bank accounts, settling unpaid bills, and disposing of personal property through sale or donation.  In the event a decedent did not leave a will, a notaire will be responsible for identifying and locating heirs, sometimes with the help of genealogists.  Physical presence of an heir in France is not required to settle an estate.

The services of a notaire must be retained if the deceased U.S. citizen owned real estate or left an estate valued at more than 5,000 Euros.  However, under certain circumstances heirs may be able to access a decedent’s rented property and take possession of the contents.  In this case, the heirs would need to communicate directly with a landlord or rental agency to make arrangements.

The Embassy has a list of English-speaking notaires in Paris.  For more information regarding notaires, their roles, their fees, or locating a notaire in other regions of France, please visit the official French website for notaires (English version).

 

Frequently Asked Questions

How are notaire fees determined? 

The fees of the notaire are determined by the French government and are payable once the notaire’s services are complete.

Are burial or cremation costs considered as part of the estate settlement? 

The funeral home can use up to 5,000 Euros from the deceased’s bank account to cover costs related to burial or cremation.

Do I have to travel to France to settle an estate?

Physical presence in France is not required to settle an estate. If official signatures are required on French legal documents, heirs can visit the nearest French consulate for assistance.

How long does it take to settle an estate?

Each case is unique, but heirs should expect the process to take several months at a minimum.

What are the potential tax liabilities for me as an heir?

The notaire will declare the estate to the fiscal administration, which will determine the amount of taxes to pay.

If my relative did not own real estate in France, and the estate is valued at less than 5,000 Euros, am I still obligated to retain a notaire?

No. If desired, heirs can waive an estate by going to a French court. A notaire can advise on this.

What can I do without retaining a notaire to claim my relative’s personal effects?

To claim a deceased relative’s personal effects, the Embassy can assist you by issuing a “certificat d’hérédité consulaire,” an affidavit notarized by a Consular Officer.  Heirs should check if such a document will be accepted by the entity holding the personal effects.

Do I need to retain an attorney in France regarding a deceased relative’s estate?

A notaire is a French government-appointed public and ministerial officer who handles estate matters. Unless there is a dispute, a separate attorney is generally not required.

Please do not bring any electronic devices, such as laptop computers, Blackberries, iPods, or large bags, such as backpacks, suitcases or packages to the Consular Section as there are no storage facilities on Embassy grounds.  Security guards may hold small tourist cameras and cell phones until your departure, but there is no storage available for any other large items or electronic devices — please do not bring them at the time of your appointment