109 Estonians died abroad last year

People who die abroad can be buried there using local funeral homes.
People who die abroad can be buried there using local funeral homes. Source: Unsplash

Data from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reveals that 109 Estonians died away from home in 2022. Most such cases occurred in Finland, followed by Germany.

By the second week of August, 70 Estonian residents had died outside Estonia this year.

Ketlin Viimsalu, director of the ministry's consular affairs bureau, said that the total number for last year was 109, down 18 from the year before.

"People who have travel insurance should contact their insurance provider as costs of identifying the body and its transport need to be covered by health insurance or the deceased's loved ones. It is crucial to take out travel insurance for every trip to make sure your loved ones would not have to make additional expenses," Viimsalu told ERR.

Andres Tõnissoo, member of the board of the Tallinna Krematoorium and head of its Tartu branch, said that organizing the transport of the deceased's body to Estonia could cost in excess of €10,000.

The further away the country and stricter the border crossing requirements, the more expensive it could prove to transport the remains, Tõnissoo said. The funeral home executive said that bringing remains to Estonia from nearby European countries usually costs €1,000-5,000, depending on whether the casket is moved by car or plane.

"It is a difficult time and one of mourning even without the extra expenses," Tõnissoo said. "I really feel for people when I see this."

Ketlin Viimsalu said that if next of kin are not interested or unable to organize the transport of remains, it is also possible to organize a burial in the country where the person died.

"The transport of remains to the person's home country is handled by international undertakers where people can order the necessary documents and transport. The deceased's next of kin have to present the Estonian local government with the death certificate for the information to be reflected in the population register.

Deaths are not the only reason people seek consular services abroad. Viimsalu said there are accidents, problems crossing state borders and arrests.

"People turn to us for various reasons. The most common by far is losing their ID or having it stolen abroad. Documents can also become outdated during traveling. There have been cases where people discover a day before their flight that their ID is no longer valid and ask the Foreign Ministry whether there's something we can do. Unfortunately, there is not."

If a person loses their ID or has it stolen while traveling, they must turn to the Estonian embassy or the nearest consular point where they are issued a single-use certificate for getting back home.

Viimsalu said that the local police should be notified of a lost ID. If the country does not have an Estonian embassy or consular representation, the person must turn to another EU Member State's embassy for their return certificate.

"The certificate is subject to a state fee of €20 if the person has lost their ID or it has been stolen or €100 if the travel document expires while the person is abroad. These one-off papers can only be used to return to Estonia, meaning the person will not be able to continue traveling to other countries," Viimsalu added.

If a person who is traveling loses money or if it is stolen, international transfers are possible using such services as Wise, Moneygram or Western Union, Viimsalu said. It is also possible for next of kin to transfer sums to the Foreign Ministry's account, which the stranded person can access by providing their signature at the embassy.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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