Disposition of Remains Report

Updated, June 24, 2021

The report below describes local requirements for burial, cremation, embalming, preparation of remains for shipment, transportation to the United States, exhumation of remains, and the price range for each service.

The following information is submitted in accordance with the referenced requirements.  Various area mortuaries were surveyed to compile this data.  The laws cited are from the Dutch Burial and Cremation Act (Wet of de lijkbezorging, Wlb)

Part I. Name of Country

The Netherlands

Part II. U.S. Consulate General Amsterdam

Address: Museumplein 19, 1071 DJ Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Phone:  +31 20 – 575 5309
After hours phone: +31 70 – 310 2209
Email: Use the ACS Navigator to contact us
Website: nl.usembassy.gov

State Department Country Specific Information:

Registration with the U.S. Consulate:
Contact our U.S. Citizen Services Unit

Part III. Profile of Religions of the Host Country and Religious Services available to visitors:

Country Profile: See “U.S. Bilateral Relations With the Netherlands”

Religious activities for Visitors:

PART IV.  Funeral Directors, Mortician and Related Services Available in the Host Country:

DISCLAIMER:  The U.S. Consulate General Amsterdam 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.

The following funeral homes provide all general and special funeral services, including repatriation of human (c)remains.

Part V.  Profile of Services available in the Netherlands regarding preparation and shipment of remains:

Both burial and cremation are common in the Netherlands.  Hospitals and most funeral homes have refrigerated morgues.  Police stations and hospitals usually have local funeral home contacts available for families of deceased individuals.

The Netherlands is a small country and transportation between the different locations is usually facilitated by automotive transport.

Autopsies are generally only performed when death is not due to natural causes.  In cases where death is due to an infectious disease, the Ministry of Health will determine how the remains may be disposed.

International Airport Schiphol is the Netherlands’ main international airport, located 20 minutes southwest of Amsterdam, in the municipality of Haarlemmermeer.  The airport is the primary European gateway for major airlines to the United States, such as KLM, British Airways, Delta and United.  It also is the world’s 3rd (2019) busiest by international passenger traffic and the 19th largest for cargo tonnage.

(1) Maximum period before Burial of Remains:

Dutch law requires disposition of remains not earlier than 36 hours, and not later than 6 working days after death. The mandatory six day period for disposition may be extended by local officials at the request of the party making funeral arrangements.

The undertaker handling the funeral arrangements files a report of death with the Civil Registry, which is responsible for issuing burial/cremation permits. In cases where death has not occurred as a result of natural causes, the District Attorney must release the body before disposition will be permitted to take place.

(2) Embalming:

Embalming facilities are available locally and arranged through the local funeral home.  Embalming is required for transportation of the remains outside the Netherlands.  Next-of-kin normally advise the funeral home, if for religious reasons, the remains should not be embalmed.  Local practice places less emphasis on cosmeticizing the remains than in the United States.

(3) Cremation:

Dutch law requires disposition of remains not earlier than 36 hours, and not later than 6 working days after death. Cremation is permitted and crematoriums are located in most major cities.  A permit must be obtained from the Civil Registry before cremation can take place

(4) Caskets and Containers:

Coffins are available for cremation, local burial or international shipment of remains.  For air shipment, a hermetically sealed zinc lined coffin is required.

(5) Exportation of Remains:
Local requirements for the exportation of human remains to the United States are as follows:

a) Consular Mortuary Certificate
b) Official Death Certificate (international version)
c) Affidavit of undertaker regarding contents and suitability of coffin
d) Statement indicating cause of death (medical statement)
e) Embalming certificate
f) Transit permit (laissez passer)
h) Statement from U.S. funeral home undertaking to accept the remains for disposition (the airline usually contacts the U.S. funeral home to obtain this)

(6) Exportation of Ashes:
Local requirements for the exportation of ashes are as follows:

a)  Official Death Certificate (international version)
b)  International cremation declaration
c)  Statement from U.S. funeral home undertaking to accept ashes for disposition (the airline usually contacts the U.S. funeral home to obtain this)

Shipment of ashes can only be effected after the mandatory one month resting period has expired.  Dutch law permits the shipment of ashes to private individuals.

(7) Costs:

The estimated cost of funeral arrangements in the Netherlands averages between $6000 – $8000.  Costs for all options will vary depending on from where the remains must be transported and the quality of casket desired. The varying exchange rate of the U.S. Dollar and the Euro will also affect these costs. Current cost estimates are listed below based on an exchange rate of USD = €0.85 and are subject to change.

Option Type Costs USD
Local Burial Funeral Expenses, including transportation to cemetery 4000
  Regular grave, 10 year lease 2400
  Total cost of local burial 6400
Local Cremation Funeral expenses 3000
  Cremation cost 1500
  Total cost of cremation and local burial 4500
Shipment of Body to the U.S. Embalming 820
  Coffin approved for shipment to the United States 1100
  Total cost of repatriation (incl. above and more) 7000
Shipping – Coffins Airfreight for coffin to New York, max. shipment weight  $22.-  p/kg (+/-)
  Airfreight for coffin to Chicago, idem
  Airfreight for coffin to Los Angeles, idem
Shipping – Ashes Airfreight for urn to New York, Chicago or Los Angeles min. 470

Special religious or other requirements regarding preparation and shipment may increase the foregoing estimates.

8 Exhumation: 

Authorization for exhumation of remains must be obtained from the mayor of the municipality where the burial took place.  In addition to the documentation listed in (5), an exhumation permit must accompany the remains if shipped out of the country.  Exhumation costs depend on the municipality in which the interment took place.