Services and Support for the Bereaved

When someone close to you passes away, you will need all the support you can get to cope with the pain and the many changes in daily life. There are Government services that you may find useful during this difficult time, ranging from death registration, burial arrangement and estate management to financial assistance.

Registering a Death

For deaths resulting from natural causes, a relative or friend of the deceased is required to inform the Government within 24 hours of the death through the Death Registries. The person will have to bring along a Medical Certificate of the Cause of Death (Form 18) signed by the registered medical practitioner who attended the deceased during his or her last illness and the deceased's Hong Kong identity card or travel document to complete the death registration.

Registration of a Death from Natural CausesDeath RegistriesForms related to deaths registration

If the death is a result of unnatural or uncertain medical causes, it would be reported to the Coroner by a doctor or a police officer in-charge for further investigation. The Births and Deaths Registrar will complete the death registration within one week after the cause of death is determined by the Coroner and will notify the family members of the deceased in writing.

Arranging a Cremation or Coffin Burial

The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) provides services on cremation and burial of body and skeletal remains to the public. Information on cremation services can also be searched online.

Introduction of cemeteries and crematoria services managed by the FEHDInformation on booking of cremation serviceAvailable cremation sessions lookupAvailable niches lookupApplication for allocation of niches

The Government has proposed to introduce a licensing scheme for regulating private columbaria. The Government aims to introduce the Bill into the Legislative Council in the fourth quarter of 2013. Prior to the introduction of the licensing scheme, citizens who wish to purchase niches at private columbaria are advised to read the following tips and information, which may help them to make an informed choice.

Points to note when purchasing private columbarium niches (pdf file)Information on Private Columbaria

Regarding burials, citizens may refer to the links below for more information.

List of public cemeteries managed by the FEHDApplication procedures for burial and exhumation services provided by the FEHDList of licensed undertakers of burials

Scattering of Cremated Human Ashes

Scattering of cremated human ashes at sea or in FEHD’s Gardens of Remembrance is another alternative for disposal of cremains. These environmentally friendly ways for disposing of the ashes of the deceased have been gradually accepted by the public. Citizens may, with approval of the FEHD, scatter cremated human ashes in designated Hong Kong waters or in the eight Gardens of Remembrance of the FEHD.

More on the procedures for scattering ashes in Hong Kong watersMore on scattering ashes in Gardens of Remembrance

Importing and Exporting Human Remains

If the death occurs overseas and the family wishes to bring the deceased back to Hong Kong or import the exhumed remains for cremation or burial in an urn grave, the applications should be submitted to the Port Health Office of the Department of Health and the FEHD. For the exportation of exhumed remains, application should be made to the FEHD.  In the event of exportation of cremated ashes, some countries may require a certificate or permit of cremation. In this connection, families of the deceased can apply to the FEHD for the relevant documents.

Notes on importing and exporting human remainsApplication form for importing human remains

For exportation of bodies, a permit must be sought from the Deaths Registry.

More on applying for a permit to remove a body from Hong Kong

Estate Duties and Support Services for Estate Beneficiaries

Since the enactment of the Revenue (Abolition of Estate Duty) Ordinance 2005 on 11 February 2006, the bereaved are no longer required to pay duty on the estates of people who have passed away on or after that date. There is no need for the bereaved to file estate duty affidavits or accounts or to submit any estate duty clearance papers in their application for a grant of representation. However, estate duty is still chargeable on the estates of people who passed away before 11 February 2006.

Information about estate duty

To exercise the right to handle the deceased’s estate as provided by the law, estate beneficiaries of the deceased may apply for a Grant of Representation to the Probate Registry. The Grant may take the form of a grant of probate, a grant of letters of administration or a grant of letters of administration (with will annexed), depending on whether the deceased has left a will and appointed an executor.

More on Probate Registry

The Home Affairs Department provides support services for estate beneficiaries of persons who passed away on or after 11 February 2006. The services include:

  • issuing a Confirmation Notice to certify that the handling of a small estate wholly made up of money not exceeding $50,000 will be exempted from the relevant intermeddling provisions; and
  • issuing relevant certificates to authorise the release of money from the bank account of the deceased person to meet his funeral expenses or the maintenance of his former dependants, and inspection of bank deposit boxes of the deceased person.
Estate Beneficiaries Support Services

Financial Assistance

The Social Welfare Department (SWD) provides 3 Accident Compensation Schemes to help the families of the bereaved in cases of death as a result of road traffic accidents, natural disasters and crimes of violence or by law enforcement officers using weapons in the execution of their duties.

Information about the Traffic Accident Victims Assistance SchemeMore on the Criminal and Law Enforcement Injuries Compensation SchemeMore on the Emergency Relief Fund

The 4 major Charitable / Trust Funds administered by the SWD provide temporary cash grants for family members who are in financial distress due to death of a breadwinner or lack of fund for burial.

More on Charitable / Trust Funds

For patients who died of AIDS, their families may apply for the Support Fund for HIV / AIDS Patients and their Families, which provide burial grants for those in need.

More on the Support Fund for HIV / AIDS Patients and their Families

Bereavement Support

The loss of someone close to you can generate emotions you find hard to deal with. The Department of Health offers practical advice on the management of grief and loss as a result of bereavement.

Information about the management of grief and loss

Memorial Service

The FEHD provides online memorial service through the “memorial.gov.hk” website. Members of the public may create memorial webpages for their lost loved ones who had used the cemeteries and cremation services provided by the department, or had their cremated ashes kept in public columbaria, or scattered in Gardens of Remembrance or at designated Hong Kong waters. This service enables you to pay tribute and express condolences to your lost loved ones anytime, anywhere. Mobile version provides a simple and user-friendly interface to access the website with mobile device.

Internet Memorial ServiceInternet Memorial Service (Mobile Version)

If you want to know more about how to arrange for funerals, please refer to this leaflet.

A Guide to After-Death Arrangements (pdf file)
Last review date: March 2015