what is repatriation
Editors Journal

Repatriation – What Is It, and How Does It Work

Up until two and half months ago, I had never heard of the word repatriation. Now, I know everything you could possible know about it.

If you have never heard of the word repatriation, you wouldn’t be alone. It means the return of a citizen to a country who has passed away in another country whilst living abroad or travelling. A country not their’s basically.

And until someone you love passes away overseas (if ever, depending on your family circumstances), you may never ever hear do it again, or have anything to do with it your entire life.

When my father passed in early January, all I heard was this word being spoke to me, but people here in Australia at home, and but foreigners overseas dealing with my dad’s passing. I had to do a lot of research to find out what it mean, what as involved and how I was supposed to deal with it.

Although I do have an older brother who lives in the UK, and two younger sisters here with me here in Sydney. Unfortunately, the responsibility of dealing with dad’s passing fell to me. I suppose as the eldest daughter, as let’s face it (and Im not being sexist here at all), it hardly ever falls to the older brother, as they rarely know what to do.

Perhaps it’s just instinctual nature as a female to know what has to be done, how to do and what steps should be taken to deal with all. No matter how emotional you are. But it fell to me, so I had to do it.

And it hasn’t been easy, let me tell you. And it’s hardly over either.

Let’s start with the whole how do you get your loved one home?

This was the most challenging part of it all. The fee for transporting a loved one, especially with all these new COVID policies (even though he didn’t pass with COVID) is INSANE to say the least. You’re looking at a fee of at least 20K (estimate) to get them back home on a plane. Shocking.

Imagine my distaste for the Warne family, when I turn on the news to hear that after Shane Warne has passed, not within 48 hours of his passing, his loved ones used his private jet to transport him back to Australia. Oh what money can buy right? Meanwhile, I am still trying to find ways to get my dad home. Terrible.

What the next best option? Cremation in another country. No funeral service, no memorial. Nothing, just a lonely cremation to get the ashes back home. But don’t be disillusioned by this, because this has it’s own set of outlandish fees as well.

The cremation itself is okay to deal with and expected to be around 4K Aussie Dollar, as that’s what we pay here at home anyway. So that didn’t come as too much of a shock. However, what I was most unprepared for, was the expenses related to getting the ashes home. It’s still considered repatriation, especially if the ashes are being sent back home, unaccompanied by a family member.

The cheapest quote I could get for transport from Tenerife, Canary Islands to Sydney, Australia was 8K – yes you heard that right. That’s a lot of money for ashes right? So I started to investigate ways to get the ashes back to us here in Sydney via snail mail.

According to Aussie post, Aussie government and customs, it’s okay to send ashes through the post to receive them here. So with that in mind, I made arrangements with one of dad’s friends on the island to take dad’s ashes to the post office and send via snail mail and I would cover the costs and give back to him.

Unfortunately, when it came time to posting, Spanish postal service asked the items to be declared. When it was written down as ashes, they declined the postage of them to me here in Sydney. The answer was a big fat NO.

Great. I was now out of options and unable to find a way to get the ashes home. It’s nearly been 3 months since dad has passed and still no closure, still no ashes and I’m left now trying to find alternative ways to get him home. This story is to be continued.

If I’ve learned anything from this experience, there are a few important factors to take into consideration if you are travelling, living abroad, or a loved one is. I hope you find this information useful, so you don’t maybe find yourself in the situation I am today.

  1. Life Insurance: Life insurance (depending on the policy) will cover all death expenses of either you or your loved one – depending which name the policy is under. Life insurance will also assist with paying off any debts that person (or you) may have, so you aren’t stuck with any horrible outstanding monies to be paid to anyone. And will also provide extra to manage life and other challenges that comes with the death.
  2. Travel Insurance: This is super important, as travel insurance will cover all medical expenses in the event of hospitalisation pre someone passing and will also cover life liability as well for a traveller, in the event they pass and you need to get home – this includes repatriation, flights, etc. They won’t cover any funeral or cremation expenses if done overseas though, that’s why you need the life insurance, as they will cover that.
  3. Talk About What To Do: Do sit down with your loved ones and talk about steps to take, whether it’s for you, or for them. No one likes to have these types of conversations. But trust me, those conversations are a lot harder to take when that person (or even you) are no longer around to have them. It’s makes it much harder to figure out what to do.
  4. Have a Plan: Make a plan if you are planning on living, travelling or heading overseas for a while. And make sure your loved ones know this plan. And visa versa. Make sure your loved ones have a plan and that you know the plan. This makes things a lot easier in the event that something does happen.

As I mentioned before – no one wants to have the conversations with anyone, but they do need to be had. I hope the information of my story and other advice I have provided will help you think more about it and help you as well.

I am a freelance writer and content creator who designs website and manages social media. I also write travel and beauty for www.renaesworld.com.au, and a weekly beauty column for www.bondibeauty.com.au whilst managing my own personal travel and lifestyle blog at www.my-life-journal.com

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