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Disposition of Remains
9 MINUTE READ
April 1, 2022

Embassy of the United States of America
Avenida Reforma 7-01, Zona 10
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Phone:  +502 2326-4000
Email:  AmCitsGuatemala@state.gov

Country Specific Information
State Department Travel Information
Register with the U.S. Embassy

Profile of Religions of the Host Country and Religious Services Available to Visitors

Please consult the Guatemala Country Profile on the State Department’s website.

Guatemala is a country of approximately 17 million people.  A multitude of ethnic groups populate the country, the majority being Mestizo (mixed Amerindian-Spanish – in local Spanish called Ladino) (56%), Maya (41.7%), Xinca (Indigenous, non-Maya) (1.8%), and several smaller groups (African descent, Garifuna, and foreign).  The majority of Guatemalans are Christian (87% total – Roman Catholic 45%, Protestant 42%), and the remainder of the population claim no religious affiliation (11%) or other (Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, and adherents of the Mayan, Xinca, and Afro-Indigenous Garifuna religions (2%)).

Guatemala City has many churches (Evangelical, Lutheran, Episcopal, Catholic, Union, Latter-Day Saints, among others), Jewish synagoges, Muslim mosques, and Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Halls.  Services are generally in Spanish, and some offer services in English.

Funeral Directors, Mortician and Related Services Available in the Host Country

DISCLAIMER:  The U.S. Embassy Guatemala City, Guatemala 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.

Funerales Reforma
www.funeralesreforma.com
6 Avenida 10-14, Zona 9
Phone:  +502 2334-0287
Fax:  +502 2331-5444
Email:  ecastillo@corporacionreforma.com

Profile of Services Available in the Host Country regarding Preparation and Shipment of Remains

All prices listed in this document are subject to change.  Please confirm prices with the service providers listed.

  1. Maximum Period before Burial of Remains

Guatemalan law generally requires burial within 24 hours when the body is not embalmed. If the person If the death was COVID-related, burial must be within six hours.  If the body is embalmed, burial is not required within any specific period.

  1. Embalming

Embalming is required to export non-cremated remains.  Funerales Reforma has embalming facilities that comply with U.S. standards.  Embalming is recommended to be done within 24 hours of the death.  Embalmed remains can be exported to the United States after the authorization from the Sanitary Authority within the Health Ministry and after confirmation that all requirements were satisfied.

  1. Cremation

In Guatemala, cremation requires a court order when there is reasonable cause to suspect it was an unnatural cause of death.  Funerales Reforma can assist with requesting the court order as well as cremation and ash collection.  When there are no relatives present in Guatemala, the next of kin may provide written authorization to the U.S. Embassy to request that the mortuary or crematorium carry out the cremation.  Note that a casket is often needed to transport the body to the crematorium, and there would be a fee charged for this casket.

  1. Caskets and Containers

Caskets and containers available locally meet the requirements for international shipment.

  1. Exporting Remains

Requirements for exporting human remains:

1. Embalming certificate, Death Certificate (from RENAP) and Guatemalan transit permit
2. 99% hermetically sealed metallic box
3. Shipping container if the body returns to the U.S. by plane or boat

Requirements for exporting cremains/ashes:

1. Transit permit
2. Cremation certificate issued by the Cemetery
3. Guatemalan death certificate (from RENAP)

All of documents must accompany the remains during travel.

  1. Costs

Note:  prices are estimates only and will depend on the specific circumstances.

Item or ServiceU.S. Dollar equivalent
Estimated cost to transport a body to the United States (varies – depends on the type of metallic casket selected)$6,000.00 to $8,000.00
Estimated cost of burial of remains in a Guatemalan public cemetery $2,000.00
Estimated cost of cremation (where the ashes remain in Guatemala) $2,100.00
Estimated cost of shipping ashes from Guatemala City to the United States. The price will vary depending on the destination in the United States$600.00
Estimated cost of shipping 200 kilograms (average weight of a casket and its container) from Guatemala City to the United States. The price will vary depending on the destination in the United States.$1,600.00
Estimated cost of transferring deceased bodies to Guatemala City (for embalming and shipment) from the following cities:
Flores, Peten
Puerto Barrios, Izabal
Huehuetenango
Coban, Alta Verapaz
Quetzaltenango
Retalhuleu
El Quiche
Escuintla

$500.00
$400.00
$400.00
$300.00
$300.00
$250.00
$400.00
$150.00

There is no perpetual care for remains buried in public cemeteries in Guatemala. If, after six years, the next of kin does not make financial arrangements through the funeral home or directly to the cemetery for continued care of the burial niche, remains will be transferred to a common grave.

  1. Exhumation and Shipment

The police, local government, and health authorities must authorize exhumation.  Guatemalan regulations state that remains buried in Guatemala may not be disinterred until after four or six years from the date of burial, depending on the specific case.  It may only be done in special circumstances, such as when a body was not identified at the time of burial, or with prior authorization from the Guatemalan government.

  1. Autopsies

An autopsy in Guatemala is done by the Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Forenses (INACIF) when there is reasonable cause to suspect that the deceased died of a violent or unnatural cause or does not have a previous medical record.  In these kinds of cases, a judicial authorization may be required for cremation and the process of waiting for a judge’s order can take 8 weeks or more.

Contact
INACIF, 14 Calle 5-49, Zone 1, Guatemala City,
Phone:  +502 2327-8100
Website:  http://inacif.gob.gt/index.php/inacif/ubicaciones

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

Local customs for funerals, disposition of remains, mourning, and memorial services may vary widely across the country depending on religious and ethnic traditions. However, there are some post-death practices that are shared regardless of religion or ethnicity.

Typically, the body of the deceased will remain at the morgue or in some cases the home of the deceased, for around two to three days. During this time family and friends will visit the body at the morgue or home. After this time, a funeral service will be held at a cemetery. Once the funeral service concludes, the body will either be buried or cremated at the cemetery.

Updated:  04-2022