Death of a U.S. Citizen

In the event that you are faced with the death of a fellow American in Bulgaria, please contact the Embassy as soon as possible. The American Citizens Services unit can assist family and friends in the event of the death of a U.S. citizen in Bulgaria. The ACS unit can act as liaison in arranging the disposition of remains. We will work with any funeral home selected by the family to ensure proper documentation for shipment of remains to the United States. We maintain a list of funeral homes that are familiar with international shipping requirements. Please note, the Department of State has no funds to assist in the return of remains or ashes of U.S. citizens who die abroad. The family or legal representative must pay all funeral home charges, shipping costs for the remains and personal effects (if applicable).

Even if no assistance is needed in making funeral arrangements, the death of a U.S. citizen should be reported to the Embassy so that a Report of Death of a U.S. Citizen Abroad (CRODA) can be issued. This document is necessary to settle legal and estate matters in the United States.

We can help locate and notify the next-of-kin of their loved one’s passing. It is also the responsibility of the family to carry out the funeral arrangements with assistance from the contracted funeral home. The diplomatic staff is unable to act as agents for U.S. citizens making funeral arrangements.

Upon issuance of a local (foreign) death certificate, the U.S. Embassy may prepare a Consular Report of the Death of a U.S. Citizen Abroad. Copies of that report are provided to the next-of-kin or legal representative and may be used in U.S. courts to settle estate matters. To prepare this document, consular staff will need original evidence of U.S. citizenship and identity of the decedent and the original Bulgarian death certificate.

Additional copies of the CRODA can be obtained by contacting the Department of State Passport Vital Records Section. For more information go to:–citizen.html


As of July 1, 2023, U.S. Embassy, Sofia, Bulgaria issues form DS-2060, U.S. Department of State Report of Death of a U.S. Citizen or U.S. Non-Citizen National Abroad (CRODA) electronically. The electronic CRODA contains the digital signature of the consular official who signed the form with a time and date stamp when it was signed on the form’s “Signature on all copies” line, the typed name and title of that consular official, and the U.S. Embassy Sofia digital seal to the left of the digital signature.

U.S. Embassy Sofia continues to issue twenty printed copies of the DS-2060, U.S. Department of State Report of Death of a U.S. Citizen or U.S. Non-Citizen National Abroad, only if requested by the family of deceased.

For more information, please reach out to

Bulgarian authorities issue a Death Certificate that lists the individual’s name, time, and place of death. Local authorities do not list the cause of death. The Embassy will require the decedent’s passport(s) as well as the Bulgarian death certificate in order to issue a CRODA that can be used to handle legal matters pertaining to the decedent’s estate, in the United States. The Consular Report of Death Abroad is the equivalent of a U.S. Death Certificate for resolving legal matters in the United States including estate and insurance proceedings. The Embassy will send the digitally signed electronic CRODA via email to the decedent’s next-of-kin free of charge. The Embassy will also cancel the decedent’s U.S. passport and return it to the next-of-kin and report the death to the appropriate government agencies if the decedent was receiving federal benefits.

Additional copies of the CRODA can be obtained by contacting the Department of State Passport Vital Records Section. For more information go to:–citizen.html

In rare cases, a consular officer from the Embassy can take temporary possession of a recently deceased American’s personal effects/property if no family members were traveling with the decedent. The Embassy will make a complete inventory of such possessions and will hold them for a limited period until the next-of-kin makes arrangements for assuming possession of the property. In these circumstances, the Embassy may charge storage fees and/or maintenance fees if the amount or property exceeds an ordinary amount of personal luggage or if special circumstances exist.

All payments for preparation of the remains and repatriation may be arranged directly with the local funeral agent. A U.S. Embassy or Consulate cannot provide funding for these activities, but can assist in locating and transferring funds should it be required. Most funeral homes accept bank transfers or Western Union payments. There will be some variation in prices depending on the region of Bulgaria where services are rendered.

Under Bulgarian law, an autopsy must be done when the cause of death is unknown or the police suspect a criminal act or foul play. After the autopsy, the decedent is moved to the local morgue in advance of preparation by a local funeral director. At this stage, the next-of-kin may choose either to bring the decedent’s full remains back to the United States, to have the decedent cremated and the ashes returned to the United States, or to arrange for local burial/cremation. Please see below for more details about disposition of remains.


Embalming can be performed at all major Bulgarian hospitals, although quality may be of different quality than embalming in the United States. Length of time for this process varies and cannot be performed until 24 hours after the time of death. According to Bulgarian regulations, embalming is not mandatory for a body to be shipped to the United States. If the American citizen was a victim of a crime or died in a hospital partial embalming of the body is mandatory. Burial may be postponed indefinitely if the body is kept in a refrigeration facility. If the body has been embalmed, the maximum period before burial without refrigeration is 40 days.


The only cremation facility in Bulgaria is located in Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna. Before the remains may be cremated, the facility must receive a notarized request from the next-of-kin and a medical certificate. The physician who signed the death certificate issues the latter. The medical certificate must state that a post-mortem examination was performed and that the individual died of natural causes. If the American citizen was a victim of a crime or a road accident, permission for cremation from a forensic doctor will be required.

Transporting the remains from Bulgaria requires special documentation and should be coordinated with the funeral home and transportation company, if applicable. The Embassy cannot take custody of remains – the funeral home should make arrangements to provide properly dated documentation to allow for pickup and transport by the deceased’s kin or other representative.

Casket and Containers

The wooden caskets and zinc-lined containers used in Bulgaria meet U.S. regulations, as well as the requirements for shipment out of Bulgaria. The zinc-lined containers are made to order. The ashes from cremated remains are placed in marble or ceramic urns.

Burial plots

Burial plots can be purchased in Bulgaria. Initially, they are provided gratis for an eight-year period following the burial. If not purchased, they may be rented by the next-of-kin at the end of the initial eight-year period in ten-year intervals. The rent is paid for 10 years and the municipality determines its rate. Rent is pre-paid before the expiration of the initial eight-year period and before the expiration of each subsequent ten-year period.


CDC requirements for importing human remains depend upon if the body has been embalmed, cremated, or if the person died from a quarantinable communicable disease.

At this time, COVID-19 is a quarantinable communicable disease in the United States and the remains must meet the standards for importation found in 42 Code of Federal Regulations Part 71.55 and may be cleared, released, and authorized for entry into the United States only under the following conditions:

  • The remains are cremated; OR
  • The remains are properly embalmed and placed in a hermetically sealed casket; OR
  • The remains are accompanied by a permit issued by the CDC Director. The CDC permit (if applicable) must accompany the human remains at all times during shipment.

Permits for the importation of the remains of a person known or suspected to have died from a quarantinable communicable disease may be obtained through the CDC Division of Global Migration and Quarantine by calling the CDC Emergency Operations Center at 770-488-7100 or emailing
Please see Importation of Human Remains Final Rule ( for additional information.
Costs for preparing and returning a deceased individual’s body to the United States from Bulgaria are generally quite high and must be paid by the family unless appropriate insurance was acquired in advance. Often, local laws and procedures can make the return of remains to the United States a lengthy process. On average, 10 days to 14 days should be expected for return although it can take significantly longer depending on the circumstances of death.

In order to be cleared for shipment, a body must be sanitarily treated, sealed in a zinc-lined container, placed in a wooden casket, and put in a packing case. The case must be to the requirements of the air company that will ship the remains. Sealing is performed in the presence of customs officials in the case of embalmed or cremated remains. If the body must be shipped from one location in Bulgaria to the point of international departure in another city, the outer container must be bonded by local customs and accompanied by a “Transporten List” issue by the local custom official who witnessed the sealing of the casket and outer container. Permission for the exportation of the remains must be obtained from the county sanitation authorities. The permission is issued upon presentation of copies of the deceased person’s passport and of the Bulgarian death certificate.

If the remains are cremated, the county sanitation authorities issue the permission for the export of the ashes upon presentation of copies of the deceased person’s passport, of the Bulgarian death certificate and of a copy of the cremation certificate. The permission is issued after the cremation has been performed.

Cost of transportation of remains depends on flight availability, the airline operator, and the final destination in the U.S. In general, flights may cost between $500 to $1000 USD. There are no direct flights between the U.S. and Bulgaria. This means that funeral agents must coordinate with the transit country to ensure availability on flights approved to carry remains. Often, agents will have to wait up to a week in order to find availability on approved flights.

Remains may be disinterred only after an initial eight-year period has elapsed. In the rare cases of exhumation before that time period, permission from the sanitation authorities is required. The cemetery will charge an exhumation fee and cremation and packing charges are the same as above. Documents required for the exportation of remains are: Request from the next-of-kin, a copy of the Bulgarian death certificate of the deceased, an excerpt from the cemetery’s registrar, permission from the respective county sanitation authorities and permission from customs officials. All requirements and regulations are national in scope.

201 Georgi S. Rakovski St.
Sofia, Bulgaria 1142
Phone/Fax: +359 2 981 7808
Mobile Phone: +359 2 981 7808, +359 878 109 222
Skype: alians2001
English spoken

ASKONI Funeral
Keshan str. 9-11
Sofia BULGARIA 1527
Phone/Fax: +359 2 936 6002
Mobile Phone: +359 888 437 008
English spoken.

1 Gevgeliiski, entrance B, floor 2, apartment 67
Sofia, Bulgaria 1309
Tel.: +359 2 465 2636
Mobile Phone: +359882529557
English spoken.

DISCLAIMER: The U.S. Embassy Sofia, Bulgaria assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the following persons or firms. Names are listed alphabetically, and the order in which they appear has no other significance. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the funeral directors, morticians, and other service providers.