Transport of mortal remains

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Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

Do you need to transport mortal remains from the Netherlands to abroad and vice versa? You must have a death certificate and a laissez-passer (body passport, lijkenpas) or similar declaration to do so. Mortal remains must be transported in an airtight zinc lined coffin or casket by a registered hearse.

Transporting mortal remains in the Netherlands

You need a death certificate before you can transport mortal remains. The death certificate is issued by the municipality where the deceased person has passed away. A municipality in the Netherlands can then issue an authorisation for burial or cremation.

Transporting mortal remains across borders

For the transport of mortal remains between countries that have signed and ratified the 1973 Agreement on the transfer of corpses (Strasbourg Convention, pdf), you only need a body passport from the country of death. In the Netherlands, a body passport is issued by the municipality where the person died. Outside of the Netherlands, the competent authorities of that country need to issue the body passport.

When you transport mortal remains to or from a country that has not ratified the Strasbourg Convention, you must also have a certificate from the competent authorities that specifies the name of the deceased and the place to which you transport the remains.

If the remains are being transported within the Benelux (Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg) you only need a permit to bury or cremate the body.

RDW inspection of hearse and registration number

Funeral transport in the Netherlands takes place in a hearse. If you want to use a car as a hearse, it must be inspected by the RDW first. A hearse requires special equipment. Once the Netherlands Vehicle Authority (RDW) has inspected your hearse, it will issue a special registration number (vehicle category M and body type SD).

Transporting the ashes of a deceased across borders

You do not need any documents to transport the ashes of a deceased (in Dutch). However, it is advisable to have an English translation of the death certificate and the cremation certificate at hand. Ashes can be transported by a special repatriation company. Some airlines allow urns to be carried as hand baggage or in the hold. It is advisable to check first with your airline or airport.

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