Death of an Austrian citizen abroad

If an Austrian citizen dies abroad, the competent representation authority assists in arranging for the transportation of the body to Austria, a cremation or local funeral. Which approach is to be chosen, i.e. as regards the type of funeral or the burial site, first and foremost depends on the deceased person’s will and/or the respective dispositions made by the deceased person. If he or she has not made any such dispositions, if there is no last will or if the deceased’s will is not clearly identifiable, the right to decide on how to proceed is with the next of kin. In general, these are the spouse, the adult children, the parents and siblings of the deceased person (in this sequence).  If there are no next of kin, this right is transferred to the person who had lived in the same household with the deceased until his/her death.

The prerequisite for the cross-border transportation of a body or an urn is a guarantee that all associated costs are borne by the deceased person’s relatives and – if available – by a relevant insurance. In some countries a cremation and subsequent cross-border transportation of the urn is not possible. In other countries the cross-border transportation in a coffin may prove difficult for climate reasons.

If necessary, the representation authority may also take preliminary measures to safeguard the deceased person’s estate, by, for instance, establishing an inventory, sealing off of property, determining the deceased’s assets, etc. These services are provided particularly in states where there is no system of official inheritance proceedings in place and in cases where the heirs are not yet able to take the required steps themselves by involving, for instance, the competent local authority, the administrator of the estate or the executor of the last will.