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Disposition of Remains Report
 

Name of Country: Mexico

U.S. Consulate Address and contact information

Paseo de la Victoria #3650, Fracc. Partido Senecú, Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico.

Mailing address: P.O. Box 10545, El Paso, TX 79995

Phone: Country Code 52 Area Code 656-227-3000 (24 hr Switchboard)

American Citizen Services phone: Country Code 52 Area Code 656-227-3411 (business hours)

Fax: Country Code 52 Area Code 656-227-3264 (American Citizen Services)

State Department Country Specific Information

State Department Travel Information

Smart Travel Enrollment Program (STEP)

Country Profile

Visit the State Department's website “Background Note: Mexico”

Religions

Roman Catholicism is Mexico’s principal religion with around 76.5% of its total population adhering to its beliefs, 6.3% for Protestant, 0.3% other, 13.8 unspecified and 3.1% that don’t practice any religion.

Profile of services available in Chihuahua regarding preparation and shipment of remains

Burial and cremation is the norm in Chihuahua. Due to limited refrigerated storage facilities available at police stations and hospitals, prompt arrangements for transfer of the body to a funeral home are required soon after a death. 

Maximum period before burial/cremation

Article 348 of the Ley General de Salud (Health Law) states that the burial or cremation of a corpse can only be done with the authorization of the appropriate Civil Registry official, he will also require the Mexican Death Certificate, the burial or cremation should take place within 48 hours from the time of death, unless the appropriate authority approves otherwise. The scarcity of refrigerated storage facilities also dictates that the disposition of remains be completed as quickly as possible, particularly in the summer months. Lack of response from the family of the deceased could lead to the local authorities placing the decomposing remains in what is usually referred to as common grave.

Embalming

Embalming is common in the State of Chihuahua. Most, if not all, of the Funeral Services establishments will provide with embalming services.

Cremation

There are crematoria in most localities in the State of Chihuahua, and arrangements for cremation are handled by local Funeral Services. However, mexican law does not permit for the remains of a body that passed away from criminal action, suspicious circumstances or is part of an official investigation to be cremated.

Caskets and Containers

A casket containing a body or human ashes is treated as ordinary freight. Shipping companies, however, require that the body be placed in a metal lined casket which must also be put inside a transfer case. These must meet the requirements of the U.S. Public Health Service and U.S. port authorities and are provided by the funeral service. There are similar requirements for containers for human ashes.

Exportation of Remains

Procedures and documents for the exportation of human remains are as follows. Except as noted, all are shipping company or U.S. requirements:

Embalmed Body:

  1. Embalming of the remains
  2. Enclosure of the remains in a metal lined casket
  3. Death certificate from the local government authority (required by U.S. customs)
  4. Mortician's embalming certificate
  5. Mortician's statement of placement of remains in the coffin
  6. Copy of the deceased’s passport or proof of citizenship.

Human Ashes: (air freight):

  1. Cremation certificate
  2. Death certificate from local government authority (required by U.S. Customs)
  3. Affidavit from local funeral director concerning contents of urn
  4. Copy of the deceased’s passport or proof of citizenship.

Autopsies

Autopsies are not common in Mexico when someone died of medical or natural cause. It is, therefore, very difficult to make an arrangement when the family wishes to have one. Only when death occurred under unusual circumstances, for example, if someone died under suspicious circumstances, the police are involved to determine whether there was foul play involved or not. If foul play was involved or if the cause of death is not immediately known, the State Police will conduct a judicial autopsy. Once the police determine that a criminal act was not the cause of death, an autopsy is usually not performed. There is no cost for a judicial autopsy.

Local Customs Regarding Funerals, Disposition of Remains, Mourning, Memorial Services

Mexican funeral includes a wake, a funeral ceremony, the burial or cremation of the deceased and in some cases a periodic memorial service. At a wake, the family members, relatives and close friends often pray for the deceased’s rest.

The funeral is usually on the day after the wake. The procedure is similar to the wake, and in most cases a religious mass will be offered before the burial or cremation. A cremation usually takes about two hours, and the family members, relatives and close friends wait for the completion of the cremation at the crematorium.

Read our list of Funeral Services in the State of Chihuahua.