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Death of a U.S. Citizen
March 28, 2020

Report the death of an American Citizen to the Embassy in Harare as soon as possible. Death reports are accepted 24 hours per day by telephone 0867-701-1000 from a Zimbabwean mobile phone or +263-867-701-1000 when dialing from the United States, or by e-mail to consularharare@state.gov (this e-mail is available 24 hours per day but only checked during business hours). The Embassy and the U.S. State Department can help with notification of next of kin, assist with making arrangements for shipment of the remains, provide the Consular Report of Death (used in place of a death certificate in the U.S.) and assist with the estate. Please note that the Embassy cannot pay to return remains to the United States nor to intern remains overseas, but can help receive and transfer funds to pay for these services.

CDC requirements for importing human remains depend upon if the body has been embalmed, cremated, or if the person died from a quarantinable communicable disease.

At this time, COVID-19 is a quarantinable communicable disease in the United States and the remains must meet the standards for importation found in 42 Code of Federal Regulations Part 71.55 and may be cleared, released, and authorized for entry into the United States only under the following conditions:

  • The remains are cremated; OR
  • The remains are properly embalmed and placed in a hermetically sealed casket; OR
  • The remains are accompanied by a permit issued by the CDC Director. The CDC permit (if applicable) must accompany the human remains at all times during shipment.

Permits for the importation of the remains of a person known or suspected to have died from a quarantinable communicable disease may be obtained through the CDC Division of Global Migration and Quarantine by calling the CDC Emergency Operations Center at 770-488-7100 or emailing dgmqpolicyoffice@cdc.gov.

The U.S. Embassy Harare, Zimbabwe 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, and 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. 

Nyaradzo Funeral Home
120 Herbert Chitepo Ave
Phone: +263-24-2796329/ 764309

Doves-Morgans Funeral Services
Olywn Crocker House, 157 Harare Street
Phone: +263-24-2772571/5, Cell: +263-772786183

Nuffield Funeral Home
49 Robert Mugabe Way
Between 3rd and 4th Ave
Phone: +263-29-272573/ +263 712955822

Nyaradzo Funeral Services Bulawayo
63 Main Street/ Joshua Nkomo Ave, Bulawayo
Phone: +263 773592757 or +263-29-265216

Nyaradzo Funeral Home
10392 Aerodrome Road, Mutare
Phone: +263-20-66851

Doves Morgans Funeral home
56/ 5th Street, Mutare
Phone: +263-20- 61673 or +263-772732098

Victoria Falls:
Doves Morgans Funeral Services
Stand 445 Industrial Sites
Close to Jaggers
Phone: +263-83-42321

(1) Maximum Period before Burial. Zimbabwe does not have a maximum or established period of before burial. Since freedom of religion is practiced in Zimbabwe, people are buried according to their religion as long as remains do not present a health hazard.  The burial process may be delayed due to an autopsy being required for sudden deaths with no traceable medical record leading to the death.  Autopsies may be delayed because they are only done at a government institution and the report has to be given by a government doctor.  Normally there is no adequate refrigerated storage facilities in government hospitals, so most people choose to use private mortuaries which are better equipped.  The average daily storage fee for remains is $20.  Most of the public mortuaries were built more than 35 years ago during the colonial era and their carrying capacity has been superseded by population growth.

(2) Embalming. All private mortuaries provide embalming services.  Embalming will preserve the body for approximately three months and the mortuary will prepare an embalming certificate.  Embalming in Zimbabwe is not permitted until the doctor has signed the death certificate.  The charges are $300 for a long term period.

(3) Cremation. Zimbabwean law permits cremation.  It is up to the family or agent to instruct the mortician, who then arranges for all required documentation for cremation.  This process may be delayed due to an autopsy being required before cremation.  Cremations are done countrywide with the established crematoriums located in Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare and these produce fine ash which can be transported in a hand-held urn and can be used for scattering ceremonies. Costs for cremation are approximately $4,200 and require a period of five to seven working days.  The prices include a standard flat lid coffin, cremation fees, doctors’ fees and all other services required to do a cremation.

(4) Caskets and Containers. If remains need to be repatriated to another country, the body must first be embalmed or cremated for shipment.  If shipped by air, the mortuary will facilitate the zinc-lining of caskets to meet International Air Transport Association (IATA) specifications.  The approximate cost for zinc-lining is $600. Both caskets and urns are available locally that meet IATA requirements for shipment. Hermetically sealed caskets are available in case of death from a communicable disease. Current prices for caskets are as given below:

White Dome Casket                –               $950.00
Executive Dome Casket         –             $1300.00
Standard Steel Casket             –               $950.00
Executive Steel Casket           –             $2500.00
Ash Urn                                  –               $100.00

(5) Exportation of remains.  Remains are exported according to IATA and local health regulations.  It normally takes plus or minus seven working days to complete all necessary documentation and embalming of the body, which is hermetically sealed and encased in a firm wooden coffin/casket in accordance with IATA and health regulations.  The approximate service fees for exporting human remains are $7,500 inclusive of the shipping casket or urn, embalming or cremation services, and freight charges which depend on the volumetric weight and final destination in the United States.  Freight charges are subject to change.  If  the remains are cremated, airlines will allow family members to travel with cremains as hand luggage as long as they are packed securely in an airtight urn and do not exceed the weight and volume restrictions for hand luggage.  Port regulatory authorities will need to be presented all the documentation for the cremains before check in.

When exporting human remains, the funeral service providers are responsible for complying with the shipper’s instructions, addressing the shipment, delivery to the airport, communicating with the next of kin, and the following documents:


(a)   Embalming certificate.

(b)   Non-infectious certificate, which is done by the doctor who last attended to the deceased person prior to the death.

(c)   Certificate of No-Objection from the country of destination authorities.

(d)   Repatriation permit which is issued by the Ministry of Health based on the non-infectious certificate.

(e)   Zimbabwean burial order.

(f)    Zimbabwean death certificate.

(g)   U.S. Passport


(a)   Official Death Certificate.

(b)   Authorization Certificate from Health Department.

(c)   Certificate of Cremation.

(6) Costs. Shipment of remains is estimated at $7,500 for a body going to the United States with slight variation depending on the volumetric weight, routing and final destination in the United States.  Local burial fees include collection and transportation of remains from home, hotel or hospital.  The costs for a wooden casket, funeral home charges, administrative fees, cost of burial plot in public cemetery, and burial service are also included in the burial fees.  Until burial, remains must be kept under prescribed conditions in the mortuary, which is responsible for complying with all laws for storage.  The cost for a local burial is approximately $4,000.  Local burial takes place at any one of the three cemeteries:  Granville Cemetery, Warren Hills Cemetery and Glen Forrest Cemetery.  Granville Cemetery and Warren Hills Cemetery are both municipal cemeteries within a 20 km radius of Harare. Graves are ordered and booked through the local municipal office.  Normally, a period of three to four working days is required to arrange burial.

(7) Exhumation and Shipment. Remains may not be exhumed for reburial for at least three years if the deceased died of natural causes.  If deceased died of some infectious disease, the remains may not be exhumed for reburial until five years after burial. The family must instruct the funeral home and provide the reason for exhumation (i.e. reburial in country of nationality, etc.) for disinterment.  The funeral home must, inter alia, obtain permission from the government of Zimbabwe authorities.  It takes between 8 to 20 weeks from receipt of family’s request to the time the body is ready for shipment.  Costs are approximately $6,000 plus shipping.

(8) Autopsies: Autopsies are mandatory for all sudden deaths with no traceable medical record leading to the death. Autopsies may be delayed because they are only done at government institutions and the report has to be given by a government medical practitioner.  Delays in obtaining an autopsy are normal due to the deteriorated government health infrastructure and a countrywide shortage of pathologists. If an autopsy is not required the mortuary will request a non-infectious certificate from the attending doctor.

Since Zimbabwe is predominantly a Christian nation, most morgues follow the Christian rites in their burial preparations.  Even in cases where someone’s religion is not established at the time of death, Christian rituals would be performed for the deceased by a Chaplin assigned by the Morgue.  It is culturally and socially taboo for one to be buried without any form of ritual performed hence it is essential for the morgue to know the religious affiliation of the deceased at the time of ‘admission’ of the deceased body. 

Updated: February 5, 2020