Monday, February 27, 2023

Repatriation Procedure When A Foreigner Dies in Saudi Arabia

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Death is always considered a sad or unfortunate event, especially if the deceased died miles away from his or her loved ones.

We will never know when death will occur, it comes anytime, like a thief in the night. It can be sudden, or it may take time. Thus, if a person dies away from his native country, he can be repatriated back to his or her homeland. However, different countries have different policies and procedures in reporting a death and repatriating the remains.

If such an unfortunate fate took place in Saudi Arabia, there are specific procedures to follow.

First Things to Do

In Saudi Arabia, the very first agencies to be informed of a death (whether it occurred at home or on the road due to an accident) are the police and the ambulance. The hotlines to call are 999 for the police and 997 for the ambulance. Authorities then makes a report of the incident, while the ambulance does its responsibilities according to the situation. The remains will then be brought to the hospital morgue, seen by several doctors who will issue a death report. The hospital will also list down all the belongings found with the deceased during the day of his or her death.

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It is also imperative to communicate with the sponsor of the person who died. The sponsor is held legally responsible for all the administrative processes as well as the payment of the cost of repatriation back to the worker’s home country. The belongings found with the corpse will also be handed over to the sponsor.

Documents Required

There are several documents necessary before a deceased person can be repatriated to his or her native country. Copies of the materials needed for repatriation include the dead person’s passport including the entry visa, Iqama or Residence Permit, death certificate or death report with English translation, deceased worker’s home address written in Arabic, approval from the dead person’s embassy, medical release from the hospital with English translation, power of attorney from the legal heir with Arabic Translation, police report, and letter from the sponsor regarding dues.

Moreover, four envelopes will be handed over to the sponsor, and these are addressed to (1) the morgue in the hospital, (2) Passport Office for final exit visa, and for those that will be repatriated to their native country (3) Airport Cargo Office, and (4) Saudi Custom Office. The sponsor will take the death note from the police to the Ministry of Health, who will also issue a report about the incident. Then, the sponsor receives the statement issued by the Ministry of Health and copies of the deceased person’s passport and Iqama to the Ministry of Interior, who will issue a Legal Death Certificate. The sponsor then contacts the embassy of the dead person to get approval to either bury or transfer the body to the native country. After getting the NOC, the deceased can be buried in Saudi Arabia.

Steps and Procedure

There are several steps to follow when repatriating a deceased person. The actions and procedures to take are the following:

  1. The sponsor, fellow OFWs, or the hospital must inform authorities or the family about the death. The information will then be relayed to the Philippine Embassy or Consulate in that country.
  2. The OWWA welfare officer and an assistant to the Nationals officer from the consulate will establish a team to do an incident report.
  3. The consulate will then notify the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in the Philippines regarding the result of their investigation.
  4. The DFA-OUMWA and or OWWA will look for the family of the deceased person to inform them of their family member’s death.
  5. DFA-OUMWA will counsel the family in their grievance, and assist them on what to do next for the repatriation of the remains.
  6. After counseling the family, they will be advised to visit the nearest regional office of DFA-OUMWA and or OWWA to be informed of the details of the death and other relevant information.
  7. The DFA-OUMWA and or OWWA will enlighten the family about the repatriation process, the approximate time it may take, and the necessary paperwork for the procedure.
  8. Once all paperwork has been cleared and there is already a specific date of arrival of the remains, the family will be asked to coordinate with a funeral home for the end of life arrangements.
  9. The DFA-OUMWA and or OWWA will provide the family airport assistance and make sure all the deceased?s belongings are returned.

Claiming Death Benefits

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A deceased person’s death claims can be filed by either the primary or secondary beneficiary of the deceased OFW. If the deceased is single, the parents of the deceased should claim the death benefits. However, if unavailable, then all his or her siblings should file the claim. On the other hand, if the deceased is married, applications should be made by the legal spouse, beneficiary children of legal age, and custodian of children below 21 years old.

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