Foreigners in China face huge charges for body repatriation after death compared to Chinese nationals, according to a recent report by China Daily.
The report was inspired by the slightly morbid but seemingly unavoidable question: what happens to the remains of an expatriate who dies in China?
Normally, family members are left with the task of handling the paperwork and formalities. Help is also available through companies in China that specialize in the repatriation of deceased expats – but at a large cost.
China’s State-controlled funerary industry offers a fixed price for assisting Chinese nationals with deceased individuals. However, when it comes to foreigners – fees are much, much higher.
The official price for embalming in China is 300 yuan, yet foreigners pay an average of 8,000 yuan for the same service. Similarly, for body storage, the average Chinese tariff is 3 to 4 yuan per hour, but in the case of a foreigner it can jump to 20 yuan.
According to China’s National Funeral Association, there are about 1,800 bodies shipped out of China each year, with the main causes of death being heart attacks and respiratory problems.
In order to transport the body, preservation is first required. After this, a translated death certificate and a quarantine certificate are obtained. Once the paperwork is done, a flight is arranged to transport the remains.
One Beijing based body repatriation service named ‘Roseates’ has a fixed fee of 7,500 yuan ($1,200) for their services. However, total costs of the repatriation can amount to 80,000 yuan once the cost of local funeral homes is accounted for.
Foreigners also face restrictions when it comes to burial in China. In 2008, the Ministry of Civil Affairs released a regulation on the management of foreigners’ funerals and interment that largely banned non-Chinese from being buried in China. In the case of cremation, however, some provinces and regions allow ashes to be buried.
By Freya Twigden