Bereavement information in Georgia
This information is not meant to be definitive, nor is it to be taken as a substitute for independent legal advice. Neither Her Majesty’s Government nor its staff take any responsibility for the accuracy of the information, nor accept liability for any loss, costs, damage or expense that you might suffer as a result of relying on the information. Some of the information may not be relevant to your circumstances. The language used is intended to be general and factual and is not meant to cause offence
When a relative or friend dies abroad, the different procedures, laws or language can cause additional distress. You may be uncertain about what to do or who to contact.
This country specific information is designed to help you through some of the practical arrangements you may need to make. It supplements the general information on death abroad produced by the Foreign, Commonwealth, & Development Office, which applies to all countries.
Please note, as each country has its own laws and customs when a death occurs, it may not be possible to make the arrangements that you prefer, or at the time you would like.
How to contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
There is a lot of information below, but you may have questions. You can speak to someone by phone 24/7, any day of the year by contacting the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office in London on 0207 008 1500.
If you are not in Georgia, you can find the contact details of the British Embassy Tbilisi online
The priority of the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office is to provide assistance to British nationals overseas who need the most help. The level and type of assistance they can offer is tailored to the individual circumstances of each case.
Next of kin
The next of kin of the person who died will usually need to make decisions and practical arrangements. The next of kin can sometimes appoint another person to act on their behalf.
If you are not the next of kin, they will need to be informed. If required, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office can help you do this.
There is no legal definition of next of kin in the UK. Please note that if there is a disagreement over who is the next of kin, or the person who died did not choose a next of kin, this can cause additional complications.
The term “next of kin” does not have a uniform definition under the laws of Georgia and is assigned a different meaning for the purposes of different legal relationships, such as inheritance and matters related to medical intervention, criminal investigation, etc.
For the purposes of inheritance, Civil Code of Georgia differentiates heirs of different classes. Existence of even one heir of the preceding class excludes inheritance of the heir of the following class. To summarize shortly, in the event of inheritance by law, the following persons shall be deemed to be heirs:
- in the first class – the decedent’s children, a child of the decedent born after his death, the decedent’s spouse, and his parents (including adoptive parents)
- in the second class – the siblings of the decedent
- in the third class – both maternal and paternal grandparents, and great grandparents
- in the fourth class – uncles and aunts
- in the fifth class – first cousins
An identical definition of the term “next of kin” applies for healthcare purposes. For the purposes of personal data protection, the term “next of kin” includes merely a parent, a child, a grandchild, or a spouse.
Lastly, for the purposes of criminal legislation a “next of kin” is a family member or a close relative, such as a spouse, a parent, a grandparent, a child, a sibling, etc.
Issues regarding the next of kin are decided by the court.
Georgian law does not envisage the obligation of local authorities to automatically notify the next of kin of a death an individual. However, in practice law enforcement authorities, medical institutions and other relevant authorities will attempt to notify their relatives on such, if the identity and the contact information of the relatives of the deceased is known. If the identity of the deceased is unknown law-enforcement authorities must institute operative investigation measures to identify the individual.
Georgian legislation does not allow marriage between same sex partners. However, it recognizes such marriages which have been made according to the laws of another state.
As to same sex partners, Georgian legislation does not grant a specific status to such partnerships, neither does it explicitly recognize such a status. There is no standard form or letter of no objection which next of kin may sign in case of a death of an individual. The no objection forms vary based on the authority requesting such no-object or the substance thereof. Please note, that these forms are not publicly available.
Release of information to next of kin
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office will try to obtain as much information as possible after your relative or friend has died abroad. Some of this may be only available to next of kin. Consular officers may be able to obtain this themselves, or they may put you in touch directly with the authorities overseas. They may be able to provide you with details of others who can advocate on your behalf such as lawyers, charities, or other organisations.
Based on the circumstances surrounding the death of an individual, the following laws may apply for the purposes of disclosure of information to the family:
- Personal Data Protection Law of Georgia
- Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia
- the law of Georgia on the Rights of the Patient
- the law of Georgia on Protection of Health; etc.
Generally, Information related to the deceased is deemed as personal information and thus, can be processed (including disclosing such information) only with the consent of the next of kin, on the grounds provided by law or within 30 years from the death on an individual. Furthermore, confidential medical information may be disclosed if requested by the next of kin or a legal representative of an individual, the court, and investigation authorities or for the purposes of public safety.
There is no single authority responsible for informing the family of the deceased on the developments. Depending on the circumstances of the case, this may be an investigation authority, a medical institution, embassy of Georgia, etc.
Local authorities have the ability to make international calls to inform next of kin.
Based on the circumstances of death of an individual, certain information may be withheld from the family, especially in cases where criminal investigation is instituted. Normally, information regarding criminal proceedings will only be provided to persons who have been granted the status of the victim. Such status may be granted to the next of kin of the deceased.
It is very important to check if the person who died had insurance. If they had insurance, contact the insurance company as soon as possible. They may have a list of approved funeral directors to help you make arrangements, or be able to cover some of the costs.
If the person who died did not have insurance, the next of kin will usually have to appoint a funeral director and will usually be responsible for all costs. The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office cannot help with these costs.
Appointing a funeral director
If you decide to bring the deceased to the UK for the funeral or cremation, you may only need to appoint an international funeral director. The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office produces a list of international funeral directors based in the UK.
If you decide to hold a funeral in Georgia, you can find a list of funeral directors
Registering the death and obtaining a death certificate
The death in Georgia is registered at LEPL Public Service Development Agency, located at Public Service Hall according to the information sent by the hospital or the doctor of ambulance who attended the deceased. Afterwards, next of kin can collect the death certificate from the Public Service Hall. The death certificate is in Georgian and can be collected within a day. It does not contain the cause of death. The final report containing the cause of death may take 5-7 months to be issued.
Public Service Hall
2 Sanapiro Street, Tbilisi
Tel: (+995 32) 2 405 405
Website: Public Service Hall
Consular death registration
You do not need to register the death with the UK authorities. The local death certificate can usually be used in the UK for most purposes, including probate. If it is not in English, you will need to obtain and pay for an official translation.
Post mortem examinations (autopsies)
An autopsy, which is also known as a post-mortem, is generally performed when the death is not by natural causes or when the cause of death is unclear.
In general post mortem is conducted at the Levan Samkharauli National Forensic Bureau.
Levan Samkharauli National Forensic Bureau
84. Chavchavadze Avenue, Tbilisi, Georgia
Tel: (+995 32) 2 258 484
National Forensic Bureau
If the police decides that an autopsy must be carried out, the authorities do not require permission from the next of kin.
Burial, cremation, repatriation
Cremation is not possible in Georgia.
The funeral directors can arrange the viewing of the body; the repatriation or a burial in Georgia, a memorial service at home or in a church. There are no facilities available for cremation in Georgia.
If the next of kin is in the UK they may contact UK undertaker and ask their help in the arrangements for either repatriation or burial in Georgia. An inquest will not take place in the UK if a local burial takes place.
To repatriate body you need to contact international undertakers. There are no local equivalents of the UK standard funeral undertakers in Georgia. We are aware that the international undertakers based in the UK have contacts with local companies.
Return of personal belongings
Normally the next of kin may collect personal belongings from the hospital or police. However, this depends on the circumstances surrounding the death. In some case they will be returned directly to the family. In the case of a suspicious death, the investigative body may retain the personal effects which will be returned to the family on completion of the investigation. If you are in the UK, you may ask the funeral director to organise the delivery of the belongings.
Please note, the British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate cannot take responsibility for the personal belongings of the person who died.
Steps to take in the UK
You can find more information on the steps to take in the UK online. This includes information on arranging the funeral, telling the government about the death, UK pensions and benefits, and dealing with the estate of the person who died. There is a step-by-step guide on gov.uk.
British passport cancellation
In order to avoid identity fraud, the passport of the person who died should be cancelled with Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO). To do this, you will need to complete a “D1 form”.
The form and instructions on where to send it is available here
If you plan to repatriate the person who died to the UK, you may require their passport to do this. In these circumstances, you should cancel the passport after they have been repatriated.
There are no specific procedures for the death of a child. Cases are investigated similarly, as adults. If, based on the circumstances surrounding the death of a child there arises a reasonable doubt of death due to violence against a child, family abuse, child trafficking, or some other crime, social services together with the relevant investigation authority will be involved in the case.
In certain cases, the Public Defender’s Office may also be involved in the proceedings related to the possible abuse of child’s rights. Deaths of children within the ages 0-5 must immediately be notified by the medical facility to the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia. There is no specific authorization required for repatriation or burial of a child.
As to the cases of neonatal and still births, the deaths are reported by medical facilities directly to the agency responsible for registration of death of a person, LEPL Public Service Development Agency.
Lastly, Georgian legislation excludes registration of a surrogate mother or a donor as the parent of a child. The parents of a child born through surrogacy are a couple i.e. the intended parents of the child. Therefore, responsibility for the funeral of the child rests with the registered parents, in this case British parents.
Deaths in road traffic accidents
Police in Georgia will hold full investigation into any road death. There are no specific local procedures for deaths in road traffic accidents.
Deaths investigated as murder or manslaughter
If the local police have confirmed that they are investigating the death as a murder or manslaughter a dedicated team within the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office will be available to provide support, including by referring you to a specialised organisation. You can find more about what they can do here.
You should note that if the deceased is repatriated to parts of the UK a coroner or procurator fiscal may decide to hold an inquest. See the section on UK Coroners and inquests below.
Investigation authorities must commence investigation upon receiving the information of a possible criminal offence. This information can be obtained during an ongoing investigation, news outlets or through a notice of any person, natural or legal, including witnesses of death of an individual, hospitals, medical examiners, etc.
The decision on initiation of investigation can be made by a prosecutor or an investigator.
During the investigation of the case, relevant authorities will collect necessary evidence, including examination of the body of the deceased, collecting forensic evidence, obtaining testimonies, etc. Following collecting all relevant evidence, the body will be released to the next of kin of the individual. If the identity of an individual is unknown, or investigation authorities are unable to reach the relatives of an individual, the body may be released for medical research purposes based on the decision of the public prosecutor. If investigation authorities find the suspect of the crime, they may indict the later for an offence under the Criminal Code of Georgia and the case will proceed before the court.
Criminal cases in Georgia are led by public prosecutors of relevant law-enforcement institutions, such a of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, Public Prosecutors Office of Georgia or the Financial Investigation Services of the Ministry of Finance of Georgia, according to their jurisdiction.
Local authorities will not proactively reach out to the family of the deceased regarding the updates on the criminal case. For the next of kin of the deceased to be able to access information on the criminal investigation, they must be granted the status of the victim by the case prosecutor. Afterwards, they have the right to be informed on the status of the criminal case and can therefore reach out to relevant investigation authorities for the purposes of obtaining information.
If investigation authorities wish the relatives of an individual to participate in investigation activities, such as giving their testimony, identification of the body or others, they will summon them via a locally appointed representative if available, through international cooperation with UK law enforcement authorities or contact them directly, if possible.
A person who has been charged of a crime can be detained or released from detention on specific terms, such as bail, prior to the court judgment. Releasing the accused from the detention does not prevent prosecution authorities from pursuing case against the accused. If, however, the criminal prosecution against a person is terminated or the court acquits the individual of the crimes, such individual cannot be reinvestigated for the same offence.
Investigation authorities publish yearly statistical reports on crimes. According to these reports the total amount of crimes against life committed in Georgia in 2019 amounted to 2352.
Usually, it takes at least one year for the court of the first instance to pass a judgment on the case once it reaches the judicial stage. Please note, that the case can be reviewed by the courts of appeal and cassation, which may take up to three years until adoption of a final decision.
Public prosecutors supervise cases at all stages, including the investigation stage. Once the investigation is concluded the prosecutor may bring charges against the suspect and thus take the case to the court or terminate investigation proceedings on a number of grounds, including absence of the facts of a criminal offence.
UK coroners and inquests
If you repatriate the person who died to England and Wales, there may be an inquest. The decision on when to hold an inquest is made by Her Majesty’s Coroner. Please note, an inquest will usually only happen in certain situations, for example, when someone has died in suspicious, unnatural, and violent circumstances or whilst in detention. If the person who died is cremated and only their ashes are brought home, there will not be an inquest.
If you repatriate the person who died to Scotland, the Procurator Fiscal may decide to call for a Fatal Accidents or Injuries Inquiry.
If you repatriate the person who died to Northern Ireland, there will be no coronial inquest or further inquiry.
Please note, Procurators Fiscal and Coroners do not have jurisdiction in another country, nor do they seek to apportion blame to a named individual.
You can find more information on Coroners and the Procurator Fiscal in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office guide on death abroad
The Legal Aid Service of Georgia offers limited fee services to interested persons. It provides free legal consultations to anyone irrespective of their citizenship or legal status. However, if the person is not able to speak the Georgian language, it is most likely that they will need a translator to be present during the consultation.
The information can be found at the website: Legal Aid
You can find list of lawyers in Georgia here
There are no formal government compensation schemes available, although damages can be claimed from the accused. Decision on damages will be made by the judge when the case is heard.
You can find information on UK compensation for victims of terrorism overseas here
Translation and interpretation
Georgian is official language in the country, but English is widely spoken.
The authorities should provide translation or interpretation in English. You can find list of interpreters and translators here
Support organisations in the UK
In the UK, there are many organisations that can help bereaved families. Some of these are listed in the guide coping with death abroad
List of funeral directorates