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Singapore - Death

There are several steps that need to be taken when a death occurs in Singapore and some of these depend on where the death occurred. If it occurs in the hospital then hospital administration will be able to take care of some of the details for you.

The family must first obtain a Certificate of Cause of Death (CCOD). The death may be registered with this and it has to be done within the first 24 hours following the death. Once the death has been registered, a Death Certificate will be given. This will be used to record an obituary in the paper as well as when you make burial arrangements.

Should the death happen at a hospital, the attending physician can certify the cause of death. The physician will then give the CCOD to the nurse after he has signed it and filled it out. If the cause of death is not determinable at this time then the physician must refer the case to the coroner. The body will then go to Mortuary HAS at Block 9 Singapore General Hospital for review.

Family will generally be allowed to go to the mortuary on the following day. At this time, you should bring all of the deceased’s medical documents, all medication the deceased took, any identification, and any passports or immigration forms the deceased might have had. At the mortuary, the police investigator will have the family identify the deceased in front of the coroner. The coroner will then decide if an autopsy is necessary.

While you’re waiting for the coroner to release the body, you will want to engage the services of a funeral director. The funeral director collects the body, sends it for embalming (if necessary) and delivers the body or remains to the location of the wake.

Before deciding on whether or not you want the deceased to be cremated or buried you should register the death. The death must be registered at a neighborhood police post, any police divisional headquarters, the Registry of Births & Deaths, or a neighborhood police center. At this time, you should bring the Certificate of Cause of Death and identification papers.

If the death happens at home then you should contact the deceased’s family doctor. The neighborhood doctor can also be contacted if the deceased did not have a family doctor. The doctor can issue a CCOD if they are able to certify the cause of death on the spot.

A Permit to Cremate is necessary before cremation takes place. The funeral director should be able to do this for you. Although foreigners can be cremated in Singapore, they are not privy to purchase niches in government-operated columbaria although they can get niches at private columbaria. The only cemetery complex that is still accepting burials is the Choa Chu Kang Complex. Space is limited in Singapore and therefore many people get cremated. In fact, the NEA implemented a policy that states that burials only stay in place for 15 years. After that, the bodies are exhumed and the remains are either cremated and removed to the columbaria niches or relocated to a smaller plot.

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