What Happens If You Or A Loved One Die Overseas?

More Australians are dying overseas than ever before, according to the government's Smart Traveller website.

In 2016-17 there were 1,615 cases of Australians dying overseas , an increase of nine percent from the previous year.

Over the past few days, two Australians have tragically lost their lives in adventure-related incidences -- both, coincidentally, in Nepal.

Newcastle man Michael Davis, 33, plunged to his death while descending a peak in the Himalayas, while Tasmanian man Adrian Kiernan, 31, died during a white-water mishap while kayaking the Humla Karnali.

Davis' family members are travelling to Kathmandu to collect his body, mountain guide Tshering Pande Bhote told the Himalayan Times, but it is not known if Kiernan's loved ones will be making the same trip.

Michael Davis died in a climbing accident in Nepal. Photo: Facebook.
So what actually happens if you or a loved one dies overseas?

According to the  Smart Traveller website it is not necessary for family or next of kin to travel to the overseas country unless they wish to.

Under international law, the nearest Australian mission -- a.k.a. embassy, consulate or high commission -- should be informed of the death, either by police, a travel companion or a tour company.

From there, the Department of Foreign Affairs will coordinate the logistics: informing local police (if necessary), informing the relevant state or territory Australian police, and provide a list of local funeral directors and lawyers.

Part of that involves informing local funeral directors of Australia's strict quarantine regulations.

DFAT confirmed to 10 daily that they are providing consular assistance to the families of both David and Kiernan, but "owing to our privacy obligations" would not comment further.

It's important to note that one thing DFAT cannot do is pay for for the costs of getting a loved one home -- and that can add up.

The Exorbitant Price Of Getting Home

In 2017, the grieving husband of Sydney nurse Kelly Clarke was faced with a $61,000 bill to return his newlywed's body to Australia.

Clarke died from "severe bilateral pneumonia" while on her honeymoon in Fiji, yet due to her stomach bug and infection, her husband Chase was told he'd need to charter a private plane to return her body home.

Kelly and Chase Clarke on their wedding day. Photo: Facebook.

At the time, he told media he hoped their insurance would cover it, but otherwise he would have to turn fundraising in order to afford it.

Medical evacuations can cost anywhere from $60,000 to $300,000, according to comparison website Finder. DFAT urges Australians to get travel insurance before they head off overseas.

"If you don't have travel insurance and need to me medically evacuated, or in the most extreme circumstances, die, then your friends, family and loved ones are liable to pay costs," iSelect's Laura Crowden told 10 daily.

"It's an extraordinarily distressing situation anyway. Loved ones are devastated, without the extra hassle of having to find the funds to bring a body back -- or to fly internationally to attend their funeral overseas.

"It goes back to that old cliche: if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford travel."

Where are Australians dying overseas?

In 2016-17, the number of Australians dying overseas increased nine percent. They're usually a result of illness or natural causes, said DFAT, possibly due to an ageing population travelling more and retiring overseas.

Thailand -- 203 people

Philippines -- 126 people

Indonesia -- 107 people

United States -- 99 people

Vietnam -- 87 people

Contact the author: abrucesmith@networkten.com.au

Lead photo: Facebook