If a member of your family passes away, you need to declare the death in the nearest registry office in the municipality where the death happened or where the burial will take place. You must do this within 24 hours of the event.
In case the death takes place during a journey by train, car or airplane, the declaration should take place at the place of landing or disembarkation.
If the death takes place in a journey by boat, you must declare it to the captain, who issues a certificate to be used for the issuance of the registered Act of Death. A copy of this certificate is sent by the harbor master in the first place of disembarkation to the Registry Office of the Port Authority.
In the case of shipwreck victims, the relatives of the deceased may decide on burial in Greece or repatriation or transfer of the body to a third country, if it is possible. Local or Regional Authorities such as the Municipality or Prefecture, are involved in the coordination and provision of information to the relatives about their options and the duration of the procedure.
The duty to provide the details for the registration of death is with:
- the next of kin;
- any third person present at death; or
- the funeral office.
In order to declare the death and obtain the death certificate, you must submit the following documents.
- A medical certificate about the cause of death, issued from a certifying doctor. If the cause of death is unknown, sudden or unexplained, a post-mortem examination shall take place. In cases where the relatives of the deceased oppose an autopsy on religious grounds, a public prosecutor’s order is required;
- Identification document of the person who is declaring the death;
- Identification document of the deceased person;
- Tax and social security numbers (AFM and AMKA) of the deceased person, if available.
The death certificate includes the place, time and date of death; you need to obtain the death certificate in order to proceed with the burial service.
You may find the addresses of the Registry Offices of the country here in Greek, provided by the Ministry of Interior.
You may also find frequently asked questions and answers here in Greek.
Who pays for a funeral?
The funeral expenses are usually paid by a close relative or friend of the deceased. However, the relevant costs may be reimbursed by the social security organisation to which the deceased was affiliated.
It is important to note that burial costs of third country nationals may in any case be covered by Local or Regional Authorities, following a decision on their behalf to allocate funds available for the response to urgent needs. This indeed has happened in practice in the islands.
Therefore, the Municipality and the Prefecture of the area where death occurred are always contacted immediately after the death, in order to be involved in the coordination and provision of information to the relatives of the deceased, and possibly with regards to coverage of burial costs.
Burial of unidentified bodies
If a body remains unidentified for a period of 40 days, burial expenses are covered by the Ministry of Justice.
Burial of deprived persons
Expenses for the burial of deprived or destitute persons may be covered by the local Municipality, following a decision issued by the Municipal Board. In this case, you need to submit the death declaration to the local Public Prosecutor who may order the coverage of the burial costs by the Municipality. In addition, a free space for burial at the municipal cemetery may be allocated by the Municipality, according to the provisions of Law in combination with the local Municipal Cemetery Regulation.
Burial costs for deprived persons may also be covered by the Prefecture, following a relevant decision, provided that funds for aid provision to deprived persons are available in its budget.
Transfer of the body to the country of origin or another country
Transfer is conducted by private funeral companies. In this case, the costs are covered by the family of the deceased. The respective Consulate/Embassy may also be involved and cover part or all of the cost provided that relatives do not express fear of approaching the Embassies.
The Greek authorities are only involved in this procedure in terms of information provision on the role of private funeral companies.