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Living and Dying in France

Posted by admin on April 30, 2018

With so many Brits buying property in France for their retirement it is inevitable that at Healey Fox we are sometimes asked about the procedures to follow when someone dies in France. Living in France is very tempting for so many people but occasionally people are deterred from making the full time move to France because they are uncertain about the necessary procedures to cope with a partner’s death or what their family would have to do when they die.

It seems foolish not to buy a house in France in which to enjoy living the French dream because of lack of knowledge of procedures following death. So, not the usual subject of one of our articles, but dying in France has to be considered by anyone wanting to live in France, especially those people buying a retirement home in France. Probably best to just store this article away while you look for property for sale in France. The important thing is to find the right house in the right area to allow you to live the life you want to live. At Healey Fox we are always happy to share our knowledge and experience with anyone wanting to buy a French property. Call us +44 (0)1306 775 008 for a friendly chat.

Burial or cremation in France

  • First contact your doctor who will issue a Certificate de décès (this will not give cause of death). If you cannot do this telephone 112 or 15. (if the death occurs in hospital the undertaker will make all necessary arrangements). If the death was violent or suspicious you must contact the police on 112 or 17
  • Contact a local undertaker who will assist you with all the necessary arrangements
  • Within 24 hours of the death report it to your local Marie. You will need to take your own I.D, plus the birth certificate, marriage certificate and death certificate of the dead person.
  • When the death is registered the Marie will issue a Permis d’inhumer (burial certificate). You can request a translation into English of this certificate.
  • The Marie will also give you a booklet containing a list of all other authorities that you will need to notify. (This should also be available in English).
  • If the deceased or their relatives have opted for burial contact the Marie as soon as possible for permission (burial licence) and necessary arrangements to be made. Burials must take place within 6 days of the death.
  • If cremation is desired you will also need to request permission from your local Marie. The ashes can be stored by the undertaker for up to 3 months. They can be scattered anywhere in France except on paths, roads or in rivers.


  • If the deceased left a request for his or her body to be repatriated, or if the relatives wish this to happen, relatives must contact their nearest British Embassy in France.
  • The undertaker will be able to arrange all necessary legalities for repatriation.
  • If relatives wish to repatriate the ashes of the deceased they can travel with them in a container sealed by the police and with the death certificate. It is necessary to inform the airline and/or HMRC that you are travelling with ashes.

Other important things

  • France assumes that the deceased’s organs are available for donation unless the deceased has left written instructions refusing donation.
  • You can take out insurance in France against funeral and repatriation costs. If the deceased has done this then do contact the insurance company as soon as the death has occurred.


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