(i) In the unfortunate event of death of an Indian national in Saudi Arabia, the dead body may be transported to India or buried in Saudi Arabia as per the wishes of the legal heirs of the deceased. It is for the legal heirs to decide the mode of disposal (i.e. burial or transportation) of the dead body.
(ii) Deaths are classified as (a) natural death (owing to reasons like old age, sickness, heart attack, etc) and (b) unnatural death (due to traffic accident, industrial accident, electric shock, falling from work site, suicide, murder, etc.).
(iii) As per the local law, only the sponsor is authorised to complete the death related administrative procedures in respect of the workers under his sponsorship, and obtain sequential clearances from the various Saudi authorities, and arrange the necessary documents for disposal of mortal remains such as (1) Medical Report from the Hospital; (2) Death Certificate from the Civil Affairs Department;(3)Police Report from Police Authorities, including post-mortem/investigation report in unnatural/suspicious death, (4) NOC from the Indian Mission (5) Permission from Local Governorate; (6) Embalming Certificate from Mortuary; (7) Tasreeh al Dafan (burial/transportation permission from Police); (8). Exit visa on the Passport of the deceased after cancelling Iqama, etc.
(iv) The Saudi sponsor is legally bound to bear the cost of burial or transportation of the deceased worker unless GOSI insurance covers the same.
(v) Since, only the sponsor who is authorised to complete the death related procedures, the direct role of Embassy/Consulate is limited to registering death and issuing NOC for disposal of the dead body after obtaining consent from Next of Kin (NOK), and subsequently issuing death certificate and attestation of the death related documents. The Embassy/Consulate however, accords high priority for disposal of mortal remains and for expeditiously completing the registration and issuing NOC, officials of the Embassy/Consulate are available round the clock. The Embassy/Consulate also constantly monitor the progress of the disposal of the mortal remains and take appropriate necessary action to pursue the matter with the sponsor/Saudi authorities to expedite the process where delays are experienced.
(viii) Normally dead bodies involving unnatural deaths are kept in mortuary till the completion of investigations by local authorities. However, in cases of natural deaths or in cases of unnatural deaths where investigation is complete, if there is delay on the part of the families in conveying consent for disposal of dead body within a reasonable timeframe, there is likelihood of the local authorities, for want of space in the mortuaries, permitting burial of such bodies. It is therefore important for the families to convey their consent expeditiously.
(ix) The authorities do not charge any fees for keeping dead bodies in mortuaries in Government hospitals. However, the private hospitals do charge a huge sum which varies from place to place.
(iv) The procedures to be followed in disposal of mortal remains are given below.
2. Procedure for Registration of Death
(i) First of all, information of death must be reported to the concerned police authorities and directly to the Indian Embassy/Consulate and the NOK by the sponsor.
(ii) While reporting death to the Embassy information about name and contact details of the NOK of the deceased, whether in India or in the Kingdom, must be given as this will be helpful in early completion of formalities.
(iii) In order for the disposal of mortal remains of the expatriates, the local authorities require a ‘No Objection Certificate’(NOC) from the Embassy/Consulate.
(v) Embassy can issue the NOC only after receiving a Power of Attorney from the NOK conveying their consent for disposal of mortal remains
(v) Immediately upon receipt of intimation of death, the Embassy/Consulate initiates action to register the death and contact the NOK for obtaining the notarized PoA giving consent to disposal of the mortal remains.
(vi) A nominal fee of SR 3 is applicable for registration of death. NOC and attestation of other relevant documents are done free of charge.
3. Documentation needed for issuing NOC
(i) A copy of passport and Iqama of the deceased person.
(ii) A copy of passport and Identity card(Iqama) of the person authorized to coordinate official procedures and disposal /transportation of the Mortal Remains. (NB: In case the PoA is in favour of a Saudi national, a copy of his Saudi ID is required).
(iii) Notarised Power of Attorney (PoA) from the NOK giving their consent to either to bury the mortal remains in Saudi Arabia or transport the mortal remains to the native place, and authorising either a friend or acquaintance in Saudi Arabia/or the sponsor to coordinate on their behalf the process for disposal of the moral remains. (Specimen PoA is available on the website of the Mission.
(iv) For natural deaths, a copy of medical report (Taqrir Al-Tabbi) or death intimation (Tablig Al-wafa) with English translation.
(v) In case of unnatural deaths such as, road accident, murder, suicide, work related accident, etc., a copy of police report (TAQRIR AL-SHURTA) and medical report with English translation.
(vi) Dues Settlement Certificate from Labour Office/ Police or Sponsor’s undertaking to settle legal dues of his/her deceased worker, addressed to the Embassy or Consulate.
4. Local Burial in Saudi Arabia
(i) Mortal Remains of deceased Muslim Indian nationals can be buried in any of the cemeteries in the Kingdom.
(ii). Mortal Remains of non-Muslim Indian nationals can be buried only in non-Muslim cemeteries situated in Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Najran, Jazan (Abu Areesh).
(iii) (NB: Disposal of Mortal Remains of non-Muslim Indian nationals is permitted only by burial as cremation (burning of dead body) is prohibited in the Kingdom).
(2) Procedure for local burial
(i) The sponsor should get the NOC from the Embassy/Consulate attested by Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Though, attestation is not compulsory, in cities/villages other than Riyadh, Dammam, Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah, where local police officials insist on it.)
(ii) Nearest police station of the place of death of the Indian national has to be approached with the NOC, which will issue a letter permitting the mortuary to release the body. (In big cities like Jeddah, permission letter, issued by the Police authorities specify the name of the allotted cemetery where the burial has to be done).
(iii) Normally shifting of dead body from one city to another city is not permitted by Saudi authorities. In exceptional cases, concerned Governorate issues permission for transporting dead body from one city to another city. All mortuaries in hospitals are having paid ambulance services for transporting the dead body from mortuary to cemetery.
(iv) After the burial, the death has to be registered with Ahwal Al-Madani (Civil Affairs Department) in the city where the death occurred. After registering the death, Saudi authorities issue a Death Certificate (Shahada Al-Wa-fa).
(v) Submit the Death Certificate (Shahada Al-Wafa) with English translation to the Embassy/Consulate which will issue a death certificate valid in India. No charges are levied for this by the Embassy.
(vi) Normally no charges are being officially levied in the cemeteries, however, it is customary to pay a token amount as gift to the workers at cemeteries.
5. Transportation of Mortal Remains to India
(i). Mortal remains of all Indian nationals irrespective of religion can be transported to India as per the consent of the family.
(ii) Transportation of dead body to India from Saudi Arabia, is done after the sponsor obtaining various clearances from concerned Saudi authorities which is a cumbersome process which usually takes a minimum period of 2-3 weeks in major cities, in cases of natural deaths, and more than a month in remote cities and villages.
(ii). However, in case of unnatural deaths, such as, road accident, murder, suicide, work related accident, etc., where permission by local authorities will be issued only after completion of investigations including forensic examination, the process may take several months.
(2.) Procedure for transportation of mortal remains
(i) The sponsor should get the NOC issued by the Embassy/Consulate, attested by the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Though, it is not compulsory, in cities/villages other than Riyadh, Dammam, Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah where local police officials insist on it).
(ii) Nearest police station of the place of death of the Indian national has to be approached with NOC, issued by the Embassy or Consulate.
(iii) The concerned police authorities require the sponsor to get following formalities completed before they seek approval of the concerned governorate for release and transport the body:
(1) To get clearance from the labour office regarding settlement of legal dues, including End of Service Benefits (ESoB).
(2) Final Exit visa in the passport of the deceased from the Saudi Passport office ( Jawazat).
(3) Death Certificate from Civil Affairs Department (Ahwal Al- Madani).
(iv) Once these clearances are received by them, the police authorities forward their recommendations to the concerned Governorate who in turn, issues its clearance to the Police authorities. Based on their clearance, the police authorities issue release/transportation (Tasreeh Al-dafan) permission to the hospital. (Governorate’s approval is also required in unnatural deaths).
(v) Fees for embalming and coffin (SR 5,000/-) along with additional charges which varies from SR1,000/- to SR 1,600/-depending on the city/province, has to be deposited with the Saudi hospital authorities by the sponsor.
(vi) On completion of embalming at mortuary, the hospital will issue Embalming Certificate (Shahadathul Thahneeth).
(vii) For transporting the Mortal Remains, sponsor will submit copies of all these documents to the concerned airlines cargo office /agent who will book the cargo(dead-body) with cargo terminal authorities in Saudi Arabia. Once the booking is done, the concerned cargo terminal authorities intimate the concerned destination airport in India.
(viii) The NOK in India have to submit their consent letter to the concerned airport authority in India an undertaking to receive the Mortal Remains from cargo terminal without delay. (This is not needed in case someone is accompanying the Mortal Remains.)
6. Additional Information/Constraints in Disposal of Mortal Remains
- As per the Saudi law, it is the sponsor who is authorised to obtain the clearances from the local authorities. The clearances are sequential in nature and entail the sponsor having to personally visit 7-8 different agencies/ offices concerned, often located far apart from one another. In cases where the sponsor is reluctant or unwilling to cooperate, delays are inevitable.
- In case of unnatural deaths, such as, road accident, murder, suicide, work related accident, etc. or where the Saudi authorities suspect the circumstances/cause of death/or where the NOK demand investigation into the cause of the death, permission by local authorities for disposal of moral remains will be issued only after completion of investigations including forensic examination, and the process may take several months.
- Delay may also occur if there is any case registered with any Saudi authorities against the deceased. The time taken for giving clearance by police authorities varies depending upon the nature of the case.
- Even the mortal remains require exit visa. The Passport (Jawazath) Department does not issue exit-visa if any traffic-fine is pending against the deceased and until the same is settled. Similarly, if there are Iqama violation or overstay, the fines are required to be paid before an exit visa is granted.
- The details mentioned in Saudi death certificate from Ahwal Al-Madani should match with those in other death-related documents. If there is any discrepancy/error, it should be corrected by AhwalAl-Madani only after getting permission from their Head Office in Riyadh.
- In case of death of several persons in a single accident, separate police permission letter is to be obtained from police/ Governorate.
- In most of the small towns/ remote villages, police letter containing Governorate’s permission to transport the Mortal Remains is normally sent through official channels (i.e. dealing police station to area police headquarters, town admin, office (Mahafizah) to Governorate and vice-versa) which takes considerable time.