Death of a U.S. Citizen

The American Citizen Services (ACS) Unit can assist family and friends in the event of the death of an American citizen in Panama.  The ACS Unit can notify the Next of Kin in the United States, can act as liaison in arranging the disposition of remains and help with the forwarding of personal effects.  When a death of an American Citizen occurs in Panama, it is important that the ACS Unit is notified as soon as possible.  An American Duty Officer can be contacted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 317-5000.

Next of Kin

The ACS Unit will work with the deceased’s Next of Kin to carry out the family’s wishes.  Often, family members wish to travel to Panama to make arrangements in person.  In that case, the Panamanian authorities typically require proof of the familial or legal relationship (birth or marriage certificates, Power of Attorney form) before releasing the remains.

If you choose not to travel to Panama, the ACS Unit can act in your name. In this case, the Next of Kin should prepare a Power of Attorney giving “the U.S. Embassy” the authority to represent him or her with the Panamanian authorities. Per Panamanian regulations, the original notarized document will have to have an “apostille stamp,” which can be obtained from the U.S. Department of State, before being sent to Panama. For instructions on how to receive an U.S. apostille stamp, contact the Authentications Office.

Disposition of Remains

Panamanian law requires the disposition of remains within one month after death.  The family of the deceased or their legal representative must pay all funeral home charges, as well as shipping costs for the remains and personal effects (if applicable).

The ACS Unit will work with the funeral home to ensure proper documentation for shipment of remains to the United States. We maintain a list of funeral homes that are familiar with international shipping requirements, although families may work with any funeral home they choose.  In some cases, the service level falls short of that expected in the U.S.  We recommend that you ask your hometown funeral director to help you determine the advisability of viewing the remains.

The following general information is provided to assist families in making initial decisions. Indicated costs are estimates, based on deaths with no unusual circumstances, and should be considered as guides only. These estimates also relate only to costs incurred in Panama (inclusive of shipping).  U.S. funeral home costs will be handled separately.

Approximate costs:
Preparation and burial in Panama – $1,500
Cremation and disposition of ashes in Panama – $850
Preparation and air shipment to the U.S. – $4,500
Cremation and air shipment of ashes to the U.S. – $2,500

*Please consider an additional cost of o/a $1,500 if the local funeral home needs to transfer the remains from the interior of the Republic of Panama to Panama City for cremation or final shipping of remains.*

Consular Report of Death of a U.S. Citizen Abroad.

Even if no assistance is needed in making funeral arrangements, the death of an American citizen, whether resident or tourist in Panama, should be reported to the ACS Unit so that a Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad can be issued. This document is usually necessary to settle legal and estate matters in the United States.  The Report provides the essential facts concerning the death of a U.S. citizen and is based on the Panamanian death certificate.

Additional Copies of a Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad

The ACS Unit can issue up to 20 copies of the Report to the Next of Kin, which is usually sufficient in number to settle matters in the United States. Should you need additional copies in the future, they may be obtained from the Vital Records Section of the Passport Services Bureau in Washington D.C.  For information on current costs and instructions regarding how to request certified copies of this report, please access the Department of State’s website for Copy of Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad

Funeral Homes in Panama

Funeraria Alvarado
Across the street from Hospital Santo Tomas or in Jardín de Paz Cemetery
Panama City, Panama
Tel. (507) 390-2552, 390-2727
Cellphone: (507) 6672-1074

Funeraria Da Silva, S.A. (Olivierre)
8th Street, Amador Guerrero Ave, #7114,
Colon Province, Republic of Panama
Tel. (507) 441-2263, 441-2855
Cellphone: (507) 6613-9054

Funerales Panameños La Auxiliadora
Calle 43, Bella Vista
Panama City, Panama
Tel. (507) 227-3117, 227-3018, 227-3458

Updated July 2017