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Is it necessary to report the death of South African expats to Home Affairs?

By June 5, 2024FinGlobal

Is it necessary to report the death of South African expats to Home Affairs?

June 5, 2024


Many South Africans choose to build a life abroad, becoming expats in their new countries. But what happens when a South African expat passes away abroad? It’s not something that most people like to think about, but it’s essential to be prepared for the eventuality. With this in mind, let’s look at why you need to report an expat death to the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), even though the individual no longer resides in South Africa, and briefly outline the steps for obtaining a South African death certificate from overseas.

Do you need to report the death of a South African expat to Home Affairs?

Yes, reporting the death of a South African expat to Home Affairs is necessary. There are two main reasons for this:

  • Maintaining accurate records: The South African government can keep the population registry up-to-date.
  • Estate settlement: Financial institutions and the Master of the High Court typically require a South African death certificate to settle an expat’s deceased estate in South Africa.

What do you need a death certificate for in South Africa?

A death certificate has several essential functions –

  • Official record of death: Establishes a legal record of the person’s passing, used to maintain accurate population data.
  • Settling a deceased estate: Financial institutions and the Master of the High Court typically require a death certificate to finalise the distribution of the deceased’s assets (estate).
  • Accessing benefits: Survivors may need a death certificate to claim life insurance benefits or inheritances.
  • Cancelling accounts: Utilities, bank accounts, and other subscriptions may require a death certificate to close them.
  • Ownership transfer: Property or vehicles registered in the deceased’s name might require a death certificate for ownership transfer to rightful heirs.

How do you apply for a death certificate from overseas in South Africa?

If you’re overseas and must apply for a South African death certificate, you can do it at the nearest South African embassy, mission, or consulate. Here’s the process:

  1. Report the death: The first step is to report the death to the South African embassy or consulate. You’ll likely need to provide documents like a certified copy of the local death certificate issued by the country where the death occurred.
  2. Complete the application: You must fill out form BI-132, “Application for Death Certificate” DHA 132 Application for Death Certificate – South Africa. This form specifies whether you need an abridged or unabridged certificate.
    – Abridged death certificates are issued free when registering the death.
    – Unabridged death certificates are more detailed and require a fee.
  3. Submit the application and required documents: Along with the completed form, submit the certified copy of the local death certificate and any other documents requested by the embassy or consulate.
  4. Pay the fee: In South Africa, unabridged death certificates are charged a fee. The embassy or consulate will advise you on the amount and payment method.
  5. Receive your South African death certificate: Processing times can vary, so check with the embassy or consulate for an estimated timeframe. You can collect the certificate in person or arrange to mail it to you.

What you need to know about the process of registering a death in South Africa

Form BI-1663 (Notification of death/stillbirth) must be completed when reporting a death in South Africa. Different sections of this form will need to be completed by:

  1. The individual reporting the death
  2. A medical practitioner
  3. A Home Affairs official

After a death has been registered, a death report (Form BI-1680) will be issued. If the deceased is to be buried in South Africa, the embassy or mission will help with the paperwork and arrangements for the transportation of the body back home. A burial order must be authorised by way of Form BI-14.

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