7 FAM 220
NOTIFICATION AND REPORTING OF DEATHS OF U.S. NATIONALS ABROAD
(Office of Origin: CA/OCS)
7 FAM 221 Summary
a. 22 U.S.C. 2715b(a) provides “whenever a United States citizen or national dies abroad, a consular officer shall endeavor to notify, or assist the Secretary of State in notifying, the next of kin or legal guardian as soon as possible, except that, in the case of death of any Peace Corps volunteer (within the meaning of section 2504 (a) of this title), any member of the Armed Forces, any dependent of such a volunteer or member, or any Department of Defense employee, the consular officer shall assist the Peace Corps or the appropriate military authorities, as the case may be, in making such notifications.”
b. 22 CFR 72.2 provides “when a consular officer learns that a United States citizen or non-citizen national has died in the officer’s consular district, the officer must (a) report the death to the Department; and (b) the officer must also try to notify, or assist the Secretary of State in notifying, the next of kin (or legal guardian) and the legal representative, if different from the next of kin, as soon as possible.” Posts must notify CA/OCS/ACS of the death of a U.S. citizen abroad in the American Citizen Services (ACS) system. Posts must also report sensitive high-profile cases via cable to ensure distribution in the Department.
c. 22 CFR 72.3 provides exceptions to consular reporting and notification responsibility regarding employees or dependents of the U.S. Armed Forces, U.S. government agencies, or Peace Corps volunteers or dependents. When such a death occurs, consular officers coordinate with appropriate officials at post, the Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA), and the Operations Center (S/ES-O) to ensure that notification is made to the appropriate authorities, who will then inform the next of kin. These exceptions are explained at 7 FAM 224.
Note: Notification of the death abroad of a State Department employee, or the dependent of a State Department employee, is a post management section action, not consular section action. 7 FAM 225 provides information for Posts about the notification and reporting of deaths of Department of State employees and family members abroad.
d. CA exercises and coordinates the consular responsibility to make notifications of death. Notification by traveling companions, employers, and others does not relieve CA of the responsibility of officially informing the closest relative or notifying the employing branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, U.S. government agency, or Peace Corps, to ensure that all proper death notification has been made and that all available information has been disseminated.
e. Death notification is among the most difficult and uncomfortable tasks a consular officer undertakes. Consular officers generally do not have a professional background in social work, spiritual counseling, mental health, or criminal investigation. Nevertheless, we work very closely with families in some of the worst moments of their lives. How we do this work is a very important element in the recovery of these families.
f. Performing notifications can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Expressing the right words, understanding families' emotions, and responding with empathy are paramount. The attitude, demeanor, professionalism, and sensitivity consular officers' project during a notification are critical. The delivery of a notification can remain etched in a family member's memory forever.
Bereaved families will always remember you . . . what you said and how you said it.
g. Notification of the death abroad of a U.S. citizen is designed to inform the closest relative of the deceased, partner, or legal representative of the death as gently and sympathetically as possible and to provide information essential for making a decision about the disposition of the remains. The consular officer must ascertain that the proper person is notified and that the wishes of the next of kin for the disposition of the remains are carried out. This subchapter provides guidance regarding how to notify the next of kin of the death of a U.S. citizen/national abroad and requirements for reporting deaths to CA/OCS/ACS. The subchapter also delineates those death cases for which consular officers are not responsible for providing death notification to next of kin (NOK), procedures for reporting such deaths to the Department, and explaining who has that responsibility to report the death and notify the next of kin.
· 7 FAM 200 Appendix D, Identifying NOK or Legal Representative.
· 7 FAM 230 regarding Death From Non Natural Causes.
· 7 FAM 280 regarding presumptive death.
7 FAM 222 MEANS OF NOTIFICATION
7 FAM 222.1 In Person Notification
a. Unless the next of kin (NOK) is present abroad, consular officers do not generally perform death notification in person.
b. What Experts Recommend: Grief and bereavement specialists advise that the most humane method of notifying a person of the death of a loved one is to do so in person. The Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) very much respects these recommendations and we strive to impart the lessons learned by consular officers, grief and bereavement specialists and families in our training and guidelines for consular officers. Unfortunately, time and distance generally make it impossible for us to perform death notifications in person.
c. Local Police Assistance in Unusual Cases: We have explored partnering with U.S. law enforcement authorities, the Red Cross, and local mental health services and asking police to go to the home of a family in the United States when a death notification is being made by phone from a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. This has not proved to be feasible in most cases. However, when the person to be notified is elderly or when the death was the result of an act of violence, CA/OCS/ACS can work with posts to try to arrange for police assistance or posts can try contacting the local police department directly. Consular officers calling from U.S. embassies and consulates abroad would do the actual death notification, but local police in the hometown in the United States could, in theory, be on hand in the event the family required some immediate assistance and support, in particular emergency medical care. CA/OCS Victim Assistance Specialists may also be helpful in providing information to the ACS Country officers to coordinating with local victim assistance service providers.
d. Terrorism-Event and Hostage Deaths: In the event of the death of a U.S. citizen in a terrorism-event, including but not limited to the deaths of hostages, coordinate initial telephonic or in-person notification with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Victim Assistance Specialist and the assigned CA/OCS/ACS country officer before taking any action, if possible.
(1) In some instances, consular officers or assigned CA/OCS/ACS Consular Hostage Assistance Group (CHAG) country officers will conduct notification in tandem with FBI’s Victim Specialists. Consular officers should follow up and assist families in coordination with the assigned CA/OCS/ACS CHAG country officer and other involved Department and U.S.G. entities. (See 7 FAM 1820 and 7 FAM 230).
(2) In the event of death due to terrorism of a Department of State employee or family member, Posts should contact the Office of Casualty Assistance and refer to 3 FAM 3650.
7 FAM 222.2 Telephone Notification
a. Posts should make every attempt initially to notify the NOK of a death abroad of a U.S. citizen by telephone with professionalism, dignity and compassion.
b. Make the initial telephone call primarily to notify the NOK of the death, its cause and/or circumstances, and to alert the NOK that more detailed information will follow in a faxed or e-mailed message. It is usually unproductive to attempt to relay detailed information concerning disposition of remains by telephone. The NOK may be in a highly emotional state or in shock and may not remember everything the consular officer is explaining.
c. Show Compassion: Take care that the initial telephone call to the NOK is made with tact and sympathy. Plan and prepare for the call.
(1) A good procedure is to begin the conversation by carefully identifying yourself by name and as an official with the U.S. embassy/consulate in [country or city]. Begin by saying, “I have some very bad news to tell you,” or a similar statement. This gives the survivor an important moment to prepare for the shock.
(2) This gives the person called a few moments to prepare emotionally for what is to follow. The news should then be broken with an expression of sympathy. There are few consoling words that NOK find helpful -- but it is always appropriate to say, “I am sorry this happened.” NOK usually are served best by telling them directly what happened. Inform the survivor of the death, speaking slowly and carefully giving any details that are available. Then, calmly answer any questions the NOK may have. Offer to get back to the NOK when more information is available, and be sure to follow through.
(3) It is important to keep in mind that NOK are likely to be extremely distressed, even overwhelmed with shock and grief. By showing compassion you will demonstrate to families that you are working on behalf of them and their loved ones.
(4) If the person to be notified answered the telephone directly, or it is not otherwise clear that another adult is with the NOK, ask him/her if there is someone there with him/her. You may wish to offer to call back once the NOK has someone there. You may also offer to call for assistance for the next of kin. CA/OCS may be of assistance to you in contacting other family members, friends, clergy, or if necessary, local police or medical assistance.
During this time it is best to:
Make sure not to:
· Convey sympathy;
· Say “I understand how distressing this is for you.” And
· Refer to the deceased by name or as your son/daughter/etc.
· Convey the idea of bringing him or her home.
· Share personal experiences;
· Say “I know how you feel.”
· Be cold or distant;
· Be too clinical; or
· Use terms such as “deceased,” “your late …”, “the remains”
(5) Remain Composed: As family members (“callers”) may be uncertain of their loved one’s condition or experience disbelief at what you are telling them, their frustration or anger may be directed towards you. They may also express personal beliefs that you may not necessarily agree with.
During this time it is best to …
Make sure not to …
· Remain composed;
· Act professional;
· Listen to the family's concerns; and
· Respect religious or personal beliefs of the callers.
· Be defensive;
· Respond to personal attacks or the caller’s anger; or
· Question the personal beliefs of callers;
· Agree to fulfill a specific request unless you know it’s possible.
(6) Take Your Time: Always bear in mind the extreme pressure the NOK is under.
During this time it is best to …
Make sure not to …
· Show your appreciation for the extreme pressure the caller is under; and
· Assist the family to make necessary decisions.
· Show impatience to move on to the next call; or
· Expect immediate decisions from the family.
(7) Communicate clearly: Callers may feel very confused and not quite understand the impact of the situation.
During this time it is best to …
Make sure not to …
· Repeat information;
· Speak slowly;
· Use short sentences;
· Try to respond to specific questions;
· Stress the positive actions you can take;
· Depending upon the caller’s reaction, consider suggesting that the conversation continue after the caller has a family member or friend with them.
· Use abbreviations or acronyms; or
· Convey bureaucratic obstacles.
(8) Relaying Information: Callers may question you on information they have heard through media reports.
During this time it is best to…
Make sure not to …
· Explain that the media may speculate;
· Explain that the Department of State prefers to report only known facts;
· Say only what the Department of State has authorized you to say;
· Let the family know you (or your replacement) will be in touch with them as soon as information is confirmed; or
· Set a time when you will call again and do it.
· Give your opinions; or
· Relay rumor or unsubstantiated information. Sometimes information is reported by a reliable source, such as police, but not confirmed as with a presumed death, or the details of an accident etc. (See 7 FAM 230 and 7 FAM 280).
(9) Additional Suggestions:
(a) Take Your Cue from the NOK: Let the NOK determine the course of the rest of the conversation. Sometimes the NOK will immediately want detailed information on what happened. At other times the NOK will be too upset to continue the conversation but may want another relative or friend to talk to the consular officer. The NOK will often be unable to think clearly upon receiving the news of the death, or will want to immediately call a friend or relative. Offer to call the NOK back within 15-30 minutes of the initial call to answer any additional questions he or she may have. In all cases, the officer should leave a name and phone number so the NOK can return the call later if they so wish. If you have agreed to call back in a given time frame, make sure you do so.
(b) Provide the NOK with as much information as is known, stressing when necessary that the information is preliminary and/or inconclusive. You should never speculate or draw personal conclusions about what happened, such as saying, “I think your son died of a drug overdose.” It is appropriate to refer instead to the reports of competent local authorities: “The police have informed the Embassy that they suspect your son may have died of a drug overdose.”
(c) Cause of Death Unknown: It is not sufficient to state that “the cause of death is unknown” or “the police are investigating.” The family has a need to know something about what happened, even if the information available to you is sketchy and incomplete. The information available should be provided with appropriate qualifications as to its accuracy. It will help the NOK in coming to terms with the death.
(d) Decisions: In the majority of situations in which the NOK is notified by telephone, no decision on disposition of remains will be made during that initial phone call. The NOK may want to discuss details about the disposition of remains during the initial telephone call. Usually it is best to encourage the NOK to wait for the follow up fax or e-mail letter which will provide detailed information on decisions they will have to make. Family may provide instructions by phone, followed by a fax or e-mail confirmation.
(e) Tactfully Raise the Issue of Time Constraints and Costs: Because consular officers are not authorized to assume any financial responsibility in connection with the disposition of remains, it is timely to mention this requirement to the NOK. This is usually done in the fax or e-mail that follows the telephone death notification. After breaking the news of the death and responding to immediate questions regarding the cause of death and the location of the deceased, let the NOK mention any disposition request, if they know that during the first conversation, then say additional details will follow in writing by fax or e-mail. Keep in mind that the NOK will be in shock so he or she may not really be hearing anything after you inform the NOK that the loved one is dead. If the NOK presses for additional information about costs during the death notification conversation, suggested language is:
“While we sincerely regret the need to raise this issue at this time, “Costs for disposition of your loved one are the responsibility of the family. Information will be provided in a letter we will e-mail or fax to you.
IF ASKED: “To the best of my knowledge in (name of city and country where post is located), such expenses will be approximately (amount of money, if known, or estimate of anticipated expenses, if not known).
(f) Deaths of Young People: The Department’s experience indicates the cases in which a young person dies completely unexpectedly tend to be especially traumatic for the close relatives and require the utmost consular tact and sympathy. See 7 FAM 230 for guidance regarding homicides, suicides and deaths under non-natural, unusual circumstances. See 7 FAM 200 Appendix C for guidance on handling deaths of children, stillbirths, and late-term miscarriages.
(g) Medical Emergency Assistance for Next of Kin: In unusual circumstances where it appears that telephonic notification of death destabilized the NOK, and might result in a heart attack or other serious medical condition, the consular officer should immediately notify CA/OCS/ACS and seek guidance to obtain help from the appropriate emergency responders.
7 FAM 222.3 Written Notification - Fax or E-Mail or Express Mail Confirmation Letters
a. When the NOK has been initially notified by telephone, the post must follow up immediately, except as explained in 7 FAM 224, with a written notification confirming the circumstances of the death and providing the family with such essential information as options about disposition of remains, personal effects (including the decedent's passport--see 7 FAM 1340 Appendix L and 7 FAM 279), and issuance of the report of the death. This written communication is usually sent by fax, e-mail, or express mail according to the NOK instructions to the consular officer after notification of death is made by phone. You should not send the written notification until notification is made by phone. In unusual circumstances where it is not clear to whom written notification should be sent, for example when the surviving NOK is a minor, consult CA/OCS/ACS for guidance. CA/OCS/ACS may consult with CA/OCS/L (Ask-OCS-L@state.gov) and L/CA as needed.
b. 7 FAM Exhibit 222.3 Death Notification Message provides sample language to be used in written death notification messages to families confirming the death of a loved one. The model death notification message consists of three separate documents.
(1) The condolence letter which notifies the family in writing of the death of the U.S. citizen abroad;
(2) Information regarding disposition of remains; and
(3) Information regarding consular report of death.
c. Posts are urged to use judgment in tailoring death notification messages to the specific case at hand, adding or subtracting language as necessary. CA recognizes that the laws concerning disposition of remains and the facilities available vary from country to country and that this may require modifications of the formats where options for disposition are discussed. All death notification messages calling for an officer’s signature should in fact be signed before being transmitted to the next-of-kin by fax. E-mailed letters may be signed and saved in pdf form and attached to an e-mail or the e-mailed letter may simply include the signature block. Posts should be able to provide the e-mailed letter on electronic letterhead.
d. The death notification message is also important because sometimes families use it as evidence of death to assist in settling certain urgent financial matters, such as obtaining bank loans to pay for funeral expenses. The death notification message does not take the place of the report of the death, but it may alleviate the urgency with which the family awaits receipt of the report of death.
7 FAM 222.4 When Telephone Notification Has Not Been Made
a. Post may be unable to reach the NOK by telephone for a variety of reasons:
(1) Telephone connections to the United States may be difficult;
(2) The NOK may have an unlisted number;
(3) The NOK may not be at home; or
(4) The NOK may not be known or clearly identified.
b. If, for any reason, the post is unable to telephonically reach the NOK, post should take the following steps:
(1) Notify CA/OCS by phone, e-mail, or fax. You can reach the CA/OCS weekly duty officer through the Operations Center at (202) 647-1512 or via the duty e-mail address, CA-OCS-Duty@state.gov.
(2) Enter the case data in the ACS system.
(3) The Department (CA/OCS/ACS) will assist in trying to telephone the NOK. The possibility always exists that the NOK are away from the home or have changed their address(es). CA/OCS/ACS will make every effort (through the assistance of online research tools, local police, the telephone company, the Red Cross, churches, business firms, or schools) to contact the NOK to ensure that they receive the telephonic notification of death.
7 FAM 223 When Next of Kin Is Unknown
a. When post is unable readily to determine the name and address of the closest relative or other person who should be informed, the consular officer should alert CA/OCS/ACS by phone or e-mail and enter the case data in the ACS (American Citizens Services) system. Notification of the Department by telegram is no longer required, except for mass casualty, unusual deaths in which other persons in the Department will need access to the information, or other types of death cases that are likely to become high profile and lead to press or congressional inquiries.
b. The Department (CA/OCS/ACS) then:
(1) Attempts to assist in identifying and locating the proper person for notification;
(2) Attempts to notify that person by telephone; and
(3) Requests post send e-mail or fax death notification message package to the family.
7 FAM 224 EXCEPTIONS TO CONSULAR REPORTING
7 FAM 224.1 Department of Defense Personnel
a. The Department of Defense (DoD) is responsible for officially reporting the death abroad of its active duty military, dependents of active duty military, and civilian Department of Defense personnel and dependents. For the purposes of 7 FAM 224, Department of Defense Personnel includes the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy/U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Air Force (10 U.S.C. 101; 32 CFR).
b. If no representative of DoD is present in the consular district or the host country in which the death occurred the consular officer reports the particulars of the death to the Department of State for action by the Defense Department. (See 22 U.S.C. 2715b; 22 CFR 72.3). The DoD will provide instructions to the consular officer for the disposition and transport of remains, and for the safeguarding and disposition of the personal estate of the decedent.
c. See 7 FAM 254 paragraph d for guidance regarding disposition of remains and responsibility for retired military personnel and dependents.
The Department of State Operations Center can assist in connecting posts to the DoD Service Branch Mortuary Affairs Office.
ARMY: U.S. Army Office of Mortuary Affairs 1-800-325-4988
NAVY/MARINES: U.S. Navy Office of Mortuary Affairs 1-866-787-0081 (Daytime) 1-800-368-3202 (After hours);
AIR FORCE: U.S. Air Force Office of Mortuary Services (800) 531-5803
7 FAM 224.2 U.S. Coast Guard Personnel
a. The United States Coast Guard, a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security effective 2002 (14 U.S.C. 1; 33 CFR,), is responsible for reporting the death of its military and civilian personnel. If a person dies in a European country where no Coast Guard detail is assigned, the consular officer notifies the Senior Coast Guard Merchant Marine Detail Officer (Europe), London. If the death occurs outside Europe, the consular officer must notify the Department through the Operations Center. The Department will notify the U.S. Coast Guard which will provide instructions to the consular officer for the disposition and transport of remains, and for the safeguarding and disposition of the personal estate of the decedent.
b. The responsibility of the Coast Guard does not extend to reporting the deaths of dependents of Coast Guard personnel. Consular officers report these deaths as set forth in subchapter 7 FAM 220.
7 FAM 224.3 Death of Peace Corps Personnel
a. In no case should a consular officer report the death of Peace Corps (PC) personnel (including Peace Corps employees, volunteers and trainees) to the NOK. The consular officer should report the matter to the CA/OCS/ACS country officer or the CA/OCS duty officer through the Operations Center at (202) 647-1512. CA/OCS/ACS will relay the information to the Peace Corps Office of Special Services (M/SS). The consular officer should coordinate action with the Peace Corps Country Director.
b. The Peace Corps Country Director is responsible for immediately reporting the details about the death to the Director of the Peace Corps, through the Peace Corps Office of Special Services (M/SS). The Peace Corps country director also is responsible for the disposition and shipment of the remains, and for the safeguarding and disposition of the personal estate of the decedent (as stated in the Peace Corps Manual Section (PCMS or MS) 265, Overseas Disappearances and Deaths). The death should also be reported by the Regional Security Officer (RSO) to DS/CIL. DS/CIL is responsible for expeditiously notifying the Peace Corps Office of the Inspector General.
c. The Peace Corps country director generally will seek the advice and guidance of the consular officer, particularly on issues not specifically addressed in PCMS 265 (Peace Corps Manual Section), including the proper manner for preparing the inventories and appraisals of personal possessions, consular mortuary certificate and other documentation.
d. The Peace Corps country director, coordinating with the consular officer, also assists dependents who are not Peace Corps Volunteers (PCV), trainees (PCT), or employees: a spouse (most spouses are also PCT’s or PCV’s), or a dependent child (in the death of PCT, PCV, or employee parents), or parents (in the death of the PCTs, PCVs, or child).
e. In addition to notifications sent by Peace Corps personnel, the consular officer promptly reports the death of Peace Corps personnel to CA/OCS/ACS by cable, with an information copy to the Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, DC The consular officer also completes the consular mortuary certificate to facilitate disposition of remains, prepares the consular Form DS-2060, Report of Death of a U.S. Citizen Abroad (See 7 FAM 270), as soon as all pertinent information is available, and provides guidance to the Peace Corps Country Director, as necessary.
7 FAM 224.4 Death of Other Federal Agency Employees Under Chief of Mission Authority, Dependents and Eligible Family Members
a. 3 FAM 2553.1-5 provides guidance regarding coordination by the Chief of Mission with the Operations Center and representatives of other agencies regarding notification of death of other federal agency employees under Chief of Mission Authority, their dependents and eligible family members.
b. Consular officers should not perform death notification in such cases.
c. Consular officers should provide consular assistance in the issuance of the consular mortuary certificate and the consular Form DS-2060, Report of the Death of an American Citizen Abroad in the event of the death of such persons and their dependents.
d. 22 CFR 72.3 provides that "the consular officer should not attempt to notify the next of kin (or legal guardian) and legal representative of the death, but rather should assist, as needed, the appropriate other department or agency authorities in making notifications of death with respect to such individual."
7 FAM 225 DEATH OF DEPARTMENT of state EMPLOYEES AND THEIR DEPENDENTS
a. Notification of the death abroad of a Department of State employee, or the dependent of a Department of State employee, is a post management section action, not a consular action. Post should notify the Operations Center and the Office of Casualty Assistance (DGHR/OCA) in accordance with procedures in 3 FAM 2550.
b. OCA provides administrative assistance and ongoing support following the death of a direct-hire U.S. citizen Department of State employee serving abroad or their family member, or of a Department of State employee in the United States. (See 1 FAM 232.3 and 3 FAM 2550 Deaths in Service.) OCA also provides advice and assistance in the event of an overseas death of a U.S. government, non-State Department employee, under Chief of Mission authority.
(1) The Department of State Global Talent Management (GTM), Office of Casualty Assistance Death at Post Intranet page includes extensive guidance to use following the death of U.S. citizen direct hire employee, Eligible Family Member, or Locally Employed Staff assigned to an overseas Post, as well as guidance for deaths in the line of duty or due to terrorism. The website also includes information about responding to grieving Department of State families in the aftermath of a critical incident.
(2) Consular officers should provide consular assistance in the issuance of the consular mortuary certificate and the consular Form DS-2060, Report of the Death of an American Citizen Abroad in the event of the death of Department employees and their dependents.
(3) See also 7 FAM 1350 Appendix L Death of a Bearer or Official Sponsor of a Bearer, of an Official, Diplomatic or No Fee Regular Passport.
c. Death of Contract Employees:
(1) Post’s Management Officer and the employing bureau’s Executive Office are responsible for coordinating notification of the contracting firm (when the contract is with a company) or NOK (if a personal services contract).
(2) The post management officer may wish to seek the advice and guidance of the consular officer regarding local requirements concerning disposition of remains, consular mortuary certificates, Foreign Service Reports of Death, etc.
(3) If the post cannot reach the contracting firm/NOK, post should contact the office in the Department responsible for the contract or, if after normal work hours, the appropriate duty officer for that contracting office.
(4) In case of death of a U.S. citizen contract employee who was hired at post, post management officer is responsible for actions related to benefits and services.
7 FAM 226 NOTIFICATION TO STATE VITAL RECORDS OFFICIALS WITHIN 5 DAYS OF THE DEATH
a. Posts must e-mail the following information to the State Vital Records Office in the U.S. state or other U.S. jurisdiction where the deceased U.S. citizen was born via e-mail within five days of post’s notification of the death, or if the Consular Report of Death has been prepared within that time frame, e-mail a copy of the Report of Death.
See CA/OCS Intranet
E-mail State Vital Records Offices Contact Information
b. The death information fields to be included in e-mail notification to the State Vital Records Office are:
· Name of Deceased (If known, also include name changes from the birth name, e.g., if married, use maiden name; if name changed by courts, use name at birth)
· Date of Birth
· Place of Birth
· Date of Death
· Place of Death (city, country)
· Reporting Office: Name of Consular Officer, Title of Consular Officer, U.S. Embassy/Consulate (city, country); e-mail address.
c. Posts must e-mail State vital records offices a copy of Form DS-2060, Department of State Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad, when that document becomes available.
7 FAM 227 ENTRY OF DECEASED’S NAME IN CONSULAR LOOKOUT AND SUPPORT SYSTEM (class)
a. Consular officers must enter the name of deceased U.S. citizens and non-citizen nationals in the Consular Lookout and Support System (CLASS) using the Enterprise Case Assessment Service/Passport Lookout and Tracking System (ECAS/PLOTS) using a non-fraud assessment created from the Report of Death service in the ACS system. More guidance on ECAS/PLOTS can be found in 7 FAM 1330 and 7 FAM 1300 Appendix A.
b. Use reason code “E” subcodes:
60. Report of Deceased U.S. Citizen Abroad: Overseas posts are required to enter the names of U.S. citizens who die abroad into CLASS (ECAS/PLOTS) when taking action on a death case. This is a further measure to combat identity fraud.
61. Report of Presumed Death of American Abroad: Overseas posts are required to enter the names of U.S. citizens who are presumed dead into CLASS (ECAS/PLOTS) when issuing a Report of Presumed Deceased American Abroad (ROPDA).
62. Death of U.S. citizen reported, not confirmed; or no finding of presumptive death/presumptive death finding pending; or no RODA/ROPDA issued (this also covers cases where no RODA/ROPDA was requested, or where ROPDA request is under consideration).
c. See 7 FAM 279 for guidance regarding disposition of the deceased’s U.S. citizenship documents.
7 FAM 228 NOTIFICATION on federal benefits recipients
a. If Post has information that indicates that the deceased was a recipient of federal benefits, the consular officer should notify the appropriate federal agency per the 7 FAM 500.
b. If the deceased was receiving Social Security benefits, notify the Servicing Federal Benefits Unit.
c. If the deceased was receiving other Federal benefits, notify the appropriate Federal agency, per 7 FAM 500.
d. See 7 FAM 276.1 regarding distribution of copies of DS-2060.
7 FAM 229 unassigned
7 FAM Exhibit 222.3
Death Notification Message
NOTE: The following suggested texts should be adjusted as appropriate.
Part One Letter of Condolence
Dear (Name of Next of Kin),
It is with profound regret that I must confirm the death of your (relationship), (Name of deceased) on (date of death) in (place of death). On behalf of the United States Government, please allow me to extend my condolences to you and your family in your bereavement.
As I explained in my telephone call to you today, I am (e-mailing, faxing, express mailing) you this letter to provide you with information the U.S. (Embassy/Consulate) has received regarding the death of your (relationship).
The U.S. (Embassy/Consulate) in (city, country) learned of your (relationship’s) death on (Date) through (name of informant). According to (the police, attending physician, etc.), (provide brief explanation of the circumstances of the death. If the cause of death is not yet determined, provide explanatory paragraph: Medical authorities have not yet determined the cause of your (relationship’s) death.) (If applicable) In accordance with (country) law, an autopsy will be performed as soon as possible. The U.S. (Embassy/Consulate) will update you on the circumstances of your (relationship’s) death as soon as we receive more information from local authorities.
The U.S. (Embassy/Consulate) is prepared to help you in any way we can. We stand ready to carry out your instructions regarding the disposition of your (relationship’s) remains, and are sending you, via a separate message, information which we believe will help you to make necessary decisions. The consular section of the (Embassy/Consulate) will also take charge of your (relationship’s) personal effects and compile an inventory. As soon as possible, we will send you a copy of the inventory along with information explaining what will be required for disposition of your (relationship’s) belongings.
Please do not hesitate to contact (name of consular officer) at the U.S. (Embassy/Consulate) in (City, Country) at (011) (consular section phone number including country code and city code) should you have any further questions. The Embassy’s emergency duty officer can be reached after working hours and on weekends by telephoning (011) (Embassy/Consulate after-hours phone number including country code and city code).
Again, please accept my sincere condolences to you and your family.
(Name of Consular Officer)
(Title of Consular Officer)
Part Two - Information Regarding Disposition of Remains
Dear (Next of Kin),
It is unfortunate at this sad time that we must immediately call your attention to the urgent need for making arrangements for the disposition your (relationship’s) remains. (Country) law requires disposition of remains (either cremation or burial) within (time) hours unless the remains are to be shipped outside the country. The following paragraphs explain the options you have for making your decisions.
Should you decide to have burial take place in (country), the consular officer and local officials will take every possible care to follow your wishes as to ceremony and site of burial. The cost for preparation and burial in (city, country) is approximately (amount) dollars. The cost for cremation and disposition of ashes in (city, country) is approximately (amount) dollars.
Should you decide to have your late (relationship) returned to the United States for burial, the costs would be substantially greater due to the high cost of air freight and embalming.
The total cost for preparation and air shipment of remains to the United States is approximately (amount) dollars.
The total cost for preparation, cremation and air shipment of ashes to the United States is approximately (amount) dollars.
We should point out that preparation and air shipment are carried out in accordance with the laws of and facilities available in (country). In some cases, the services fall short of those expected in the United States. We recommend that you ask your hometown funeral director to determine the advisability of viewing your deceased (relationship).
To facilitate the transfer of funds to the U.S. (Embassy/Consulate), the Department of State provides a means whereby you may wire money to the Department in Washington, DC. Upon receipt of the funds, the State Department will authorize the U.S. (Embassy/Consulate) to use the money for the preparation and disposition of your (relationship’s) remains according to your instructions. Please note that the Department charges a (amount) processing fee for the transfer of funds. You may forward the funds by Western Union telegraphic money order to the Office of Overseas Citizens Services, Department of State, Washington, D.C., 20520. Please include in the money order the full name of the deceased, your instructions as to the disposition of the remains, and instructions that the funds should be transmitted to the U.S. (Embassy/Consulate) in (city, country). See Sending Money to U.S. Citizens Overseas flyer on the Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet page. Please include Special Instructions: “Department of State, OCS for Benefit of Disposition of Remains of (Name of deceased), U.S. (Embassy/Consulate) (city, country)” and include your name, address and telephone number.
After all bills for costs incurred in the preparation and shipment of the remains have been received and paid, you will be sent an itemized accounting of final costs. Any balance left will be refunded to you by the Department of State.
Should you have further questions, please contact the Office of Overseas Citizen Services at the Department of State at 202-647-5226 between 8:15 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time Monday through Friday. At other times, the Overseas Citizens Services duty officer may be contacted at (202) 647-1512.
Please accept my condolences at this very difficult time.
(Name of Consular Officer)
(Title of Consular Officer)
Part Two Supplementary Language – Funds Provided For Disposition of Remains
[In cases where the deceased was carrying sufficient cash to pay for the arrangements or when a relative, companion, employer, insurance company, credit card company, or other party will pay all necessary expenses, post may incorporate the following language into the letter, omitting language on transfer of funds.]
We have been informed that (name, address, telephone number of person, or organization paying expenses) will assume responsibility for all expenses incurred in the burial or preparation and shipment of remains of (name of deceased) to the United States. However, to insure that your wishes are carried out, your written instructions are required as soon as possible. We ask that you both fax your instructions to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate at 011 (Consular Section Fax number, including country code and city code) and e-mail them to the Embassy/Consulate at (e-mail address). Your instructions should give the full name of your deceased (relationship), your name and address and phone numbers and e-mail address where you can be reached. If you wish for your late (relationship) to be returned to the United States, please include the name, address and full telephone number of the U.S. Funeral Home you have selected to handle the arrangements.
Part Two Supplementary Language – Next of Kin Has Decided on a Method of Disposition of Remains Prior to Receiving U.S. Embassy/Consulate Casualty Message
In Cases where the NOK has decided on the method of disposition of remains prior to receipt of the casualty message, post may omit information regarding other forms of remains disposition. In such cases, posts should begin the “Information on Disposition of Remains” letter with the following language:
Dear (Name of Next of Kin),
It is unfortunate at this sad time that we must immediately call your attention to the urgent need for making necessary arrangements. (Country) law requires disposition of remains (either cremation or burial) within (time) hours unless the remains are to be shipped outside the country. During our telephone conversation, you expressed your desire to have your deceased (relationship) (embalmed/cremated/prepared/shipped) to the United States. The total cost for preparation and air shipment to the United States is approximately (amount) dollars. We will carry out your instructions as soon as we receive funds to do so.
Post should finish the letter using the sample text provided in Part Two above, beginning “To facilitate the transfer of funds to the U.S. (Embassy/Consulate) in (Country).
Part Three – Information Regarding Consular Report of Death
Dear (Name of NOK),
In order to assist you with legal matters that may occur as a result of the unfortunate death of your (relationship) in (city, country), a Form DS-2060, Report of the Death of an American Citizen Abroad prepared by the U.S. (Embassy/Consulate) will be forwarded to you as soon as possible. This document is in English and is normally based upon the (country) death certificate. It can generally be used in U.S. courts to help settle estate matters. As the report of death can only be issued after (country) authorities complete their documentation of the death, we anticipate an interval of (time) weeks before the report of death can be issued. Certified copies will be sent to you and the original will be sent to the Department of State for permanent filing. Up to twenty copies of the Form DS-2060, Report of the Death of an American Abroad, issued at the time of death, will be provided to you free of charge. If in the future you find you need additional copies, they can be obtained from the Department of State, Passport Services, Vital Records Office. Information about fees for additional copies and information about how to make a request is available from the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs Web page.
I hope this information will be helpful to you. Again, I send my condolences to you and your family.
(Name of Consular Officer)
(Title of Consular Officer)