Death of a U.S. Citizen

When an American dies abroad, the consular officer notifies the next of kin or legal representative. The officer provides guidance on how to make arrangement for local burial or return of the body to the United States according to the preference of the next of kin. The State Department has no funds to assist in the return of ashes or remains of U.S. citizens who die abroad.

The following general information is submitted to assist families in their initial decisions. The laws cited are from the national law of Cameroon, Civil status registration, Ordinance no. 81-02 of 29 June 1981.

U.S. Embassy Information
United States Embassy Yaounde, Cameroon
Avenue Rosa Parks, P.O. Box 817,
Yaounde, Cameroon
Tel.: (237) 2 2220-1500
Fax: (237) 2 2220-1572
After hours’ phone: (237) 2 2220-1500
Country Specific Info
Register with the U.S. Embassy

Profile of religions in Cameroon and religious services available to visitors.

Country profile

Religious Activities For Visitors

The Yaounde region is primarily Christian. Roman Catholic masses are held in French or a local language. English-language mass is held once a week at Mt. Febe monastery. Weekly English-language services are available at the Bastos Presbyterian Church, and Etoug-Ebe and Faith Baptist Churches. The Greek Orthodox Church conducts early masses in French followed by Greek masses. The American Jewish and Israeli communities jointly sponsor ad hoc Jewish holiday observances. The International Christian Fellowship (interdenominational) holds its services at the Hilton Hotel on Sunday mornings. A branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints holds Sunday morning services in French with English Sunday school classes.

Funeral Directors, Mortician and related services available in Cameroon

DISCLAIMER: The U.S. Embassy Yaounde, Cameroon 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; 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.

Caskets and container companies in Cameroon
Caskets and containers which meet Cameroonian export and United States import regulations are available through funeral homes in Cameroon. Remains are placed in a zinc casket which is sealed by soldering. The casket is enclosed in a hardwood coffin. Before shipment/transportation, the wood coffin is placed in a wooden shipping case. The following funeral homes may provide the required containers and general assistance:

  1. Cameroon Assistance Sanitaire
    BP 2265 Douala
    Tel.: 33342-4891, 33342-1414, 33342-1515, 33342-2020, 33342-7575, 33343-7474, 33343-7575, 33343-8080, 33343-4000, 33300-8900, 69990-2020, 67770-9020
    Fax: 33342-0079, 33343-3030
    Email: camassist@facil.net
  2. Gottel Assistance International
    BP 13107 Douala
    Tel.: 67770-9485, 67956-3117
    Fax: 33343-2656
    Email: rigottel@yahoo.fr
  3. Paix L’ame
    BP 4293 Yaounde
    Tel.: 22220-9376
  4. SOCASEP- (Société Camerounaise de Sepultures)
    BP 498 Yaounde
    Tel.: 22222-4423
    Has branches in Douala, Nkongsamba and Garoua
  5. Funeservice Belgique (Cameroonian representative)
    GP 4818 Yaounde- Nlongkak
    Tel.: 22220-6295, 22204- 8313, 69631-9983, 67461-8333
    Fax: 22220- 6295
    Email: tchami_patrice@yahoo.fr (Director: Tchami Patrice)

Profile of services available in Cameroon regarding preparation and shipment of remains:
To export human remains from Cameroon, a permit issued by the Ministry of Territorial Administration and a signature by the Minister is required. To obtain this permit, one must submit the following documentation. (Note: The Ministry retains all original documents, therefore duplicates must be obtained):

  1. A written application to export the remains addressed to the Minister.
  2. Medical certificate (“Certificat de Genre de Mort”): A medical certificate from a licensed doctor stating the cause of death, certifying that it was not due to a contagious disease, and granting permission to bury or transport the body.
  3. A death certificate (“Acte de Décès”) from the Town Hall where the death occurred.
  4. Report of death (DS-2060) from the U.S. Embassy.
  5. “Certificat de Prise en Charge” – a formal note from a responsible organization or individual accepting all expenses involved.
  6.  “Attestation de Mise en Bière” – an attestation from the police stating that they have witnessed the placing of the body in the casket and the sealing of the said casket.
  7. “Permis d’inhumer” – a burial permit written by the Embassy stating the place of burial in the United States.

Formal request to the Minister of Territorial Administration for authorization to transport the remains should be notarized with fiscal stamps affixed. In addition, should the death have occurred away from Yaounde or Douala, permission to transport the body from the Region must be sought from the regional prefect.

Autopsies
Autopsies are generally only carried out when the cause of death is suspicious (examples include cases where complaints by relatives or other reliable sources suggest unnatural death such as suicide or murder). It is frequently difficult to obtain autopsy reports. An autopsy will usually be carried out upon the request of the police, the court and/or a request by a legal representative. Even in these circumstances it is possible that an autopsy will not be conducted due to insufficient time/medical staff in the hospital concerned.

It should be noted that the standard of autopsies carried out in Cameroon falls somewhat below the U.S. standard. In most cases, it will be preferable to have an autopsy carried out in the United States. once the body has been repatriated.

Normally, a copy of the autopsy report will be requested by the U.S. diplomatic mission in Cameroon; although this process can be very long and may not always result in a copy of the report being made available.

The U.S. Embassy has not come across any instances of organs being retained, either with or without the consent of the next-of-kin.

Mortuary Facilities
There are refrigerated facilities available in most major cities and towns in Cameroon although the electricity supply is notoriously unreliable. While hospitals have emergency generators, they are not always operational.

The maximum period before burial when remains are preserved in a mortuary is unknown, but presumed to be about four weeks. Mortuaries in major cities will preserve remains for a longer period of time, but are subject to power fluctuations, and therefore long term storage is not advised.

The maximum period before burial when remains are not maintained in a mortuary is 24 hours.

Repatriation and Burial
Both repatriation and local burial are possible. Authorization to repatriate the body can be obtained by a funeral home or service with the assistance of the U.S. Embassy. A quote is usually given to the client at the beginning of the operations and the Embassy advises reaching an agreement in writing on costs of services prior to any rendering of services to avoid disputes about costs later in the process.

Repatriation costs to the United States are approximately $8,500.00, including local ground transportation. Funeral homes also do provide embalming and treatment services (about $1,160.00), assistance for clearance (about $2,000.00), and can provide coffins and accessories (about $1250.00).

In addition to the services fees above, a funeral home may also charge an administrative fee of about $1,000.00. Note that these costs, especially repatriation costs, are estimates and are variable upon the transportation company. Most commonly used airline companies based in Cameroon that will transport remains are:

AIR FRANCE (+237) 22222-9327
SN BRUSSELS (+237) 23342-0243/ 23342-0515

Local burial is possible with the assistance of a funeral home. Alternatively, local churches and missionary organisations can also help. The cost for coffins suitable for local burial range from $400 to $600, transportation of remains, funeral home and administrative fees approximately 600 additional USD.

Cremation
Cremation services are available on a limited basis. Currently, Yaounde General Hospital, the Military Hospital and the Genico-Obstetric Hospital are the only known service providers in Yaounde City. The Douala General Hospital is the only service provider in Douala. Cremated remains are stored in a small bag, encased in a hardwood box, and sealed by soldering facilitate repatriation outside of the country. Requests for cremation services should be made through a local funeral home.

Cost
The fees below are provided by “Funeservice Belgique” an international funeral home with a branch in Yaounde, Cameroon that deals in the repatriation of remains abroad. All fees are approximate and actual costs may vary depending on the distance from the actual place of death to the nearest airport, availability of flights and time period of the year (low or high season). Charges are based on the estimated exchange rate: $1.00 = 560fcfa (local currency).

Transportation
From Douala/Yaounde to Chicago: $ 8,328.00
From Douala/Yaounde to New York: $ 7,677.00
From Douala/Yaounde to Los Angeles: $ 8,978.00
Local ground transportation: $ 461.00
Other services
Embalming and treatment: $ 1300.00
Assistance for clearance: $ 1850.00
Coffin and accessories: $ 1055.00
Internal Cost
Service provider administrative fees: $ 1850.00