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Death and Dying in Malaysia

Information on how to proceed if you need to report the death of a family member in Malaysia. Also information on the repatriation of remains...

In the event of the death of a family member, friend or relative in Malaysia the first thing to do is to call an ambulance and the nearest police station. If the death has occurred at home it is important that the body is not moved. Malaysian law stipulates that the body of a person who did not die in hospital can only be moved by official personnel - the police or ambulance staff. A medical officer must also be present.
After the death has been recorded by the police, the body of the deceased is then taken to a hospital. If taken by the police this will be a government hospital, although the family can choose to take the body to a private hospital by ambulance if they prefer. A fee is charged for the ambulance.
The deceased's passport and any medical information should be taken to the hospital. Family members may collect the body from the hospital after the deceased has been examined by a doctor, and a Letter of Release and Burial (Surat Kebenaran Pengkebumian) has been issued. The body is prepared, and a funeral company can then be contacted. Note: An autopsy will normally be performed to certify the cause of death if a doctor was not in attendance.
Registering the Death
The following documents should be taken to the police station within seven days to register the death:
  • Deceased's passport
  • Next-of-kin's or appointed person's passport
  • Copy of Form JPN.LM09 or JPN.LM10 certifying the cause of death (post mortem report), issued by a medical practitioner
  • Fee
A police report and statement is drafted at the police station. A copy of the statement and the original police report will be ready within seven days. These documents should then be taken to the deceased's embassy to officially declare the death.
Obtaining a Death Certificate
Any death in Malaysia must also be reported to the National Registration Department - NRD (Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara), which issues the death certificate (sijil kematian).
Visa Status
In Malaysia, the deceased's visa status determines whether the body is cremated or buried. The cause of death has to be established because, according to Malaysian law, different procedures have to be carried out and regulations implemented. If the deceased held a work permit, the body is cremated and repatriated. Only in exceptional cases is the body not cremated. If the deceased held a Malaysia My Second Home visa (MM2H), the body may be buried in Malaysia. When a foreigner on a working visa dies in Malaysia, their employer must also be informed.

Funeral Procedures and Repatriation

Information on funeral procedures and funeral companies in Malasyia, as well as details on how to repatriate the deceased's body...

In Malaysia there are no regulations governing funeral procedures, either for Malaysians or non-Malaysians. There is also no set time frame for when a funeral has to be conducted, as the multiracial nature of the country means that there are many different beliefs and customs.

Venues for a funeral service

Malaysia has many possible venues for holding a funeral service. As the culture is very diverse and religious practices are respected, a funeral service can be held in the following places, depending on the religious denomination of the deceased:
  • Public funeral parlour
  • Municipal funeral parlour
  • Church (permission should be requested from the church's administrative office)
  • Funeral hall of a Chinese temple
  • Home - a house is preferable as the management of some apartment and condominium blocks do not permit funeral services on the premises
  • Certain community halls

Cemetery and cremation venues

Foreigners who held an MM2H visa (Malaysia My Second Home) can be buried in any designated cemetery in Malaysia.
Some venues for burial or cremation are:
  • Municipal funeral parlour and cremation centre
  • Municipal cemeteries for Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim faiths
  • Private cemeteries and cremation centres
  • Catholic church cemetery and cremation facility

Funeral companies

In Malaysia there are funeral companies that organise services for all denominations. The family can ask for a recommendation from the mortuary staff at the hospital. Most funeral companies have private cemeteries and cremation facilities, and the more established have a venue for funeral services.
Funeral parlours offer the following services:
  • Collection of the body from the mortuary
  • Completion of paperwork for the release and collection of the body
  • Embalming process
  • Supplying coffins
  • Setting up the funeral service area for all denominations
  • Catering during the funeral service
  • Providing a hearse and transportation to the burial and cremation grounds
  • Arrangements for cremation
  • Sale of burial plots, cremation urns and mausoleum slots for ashes
  • Arrangements for scattering ashes
  • Application for and collection of death certificate from the National Registration Department (Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara - NRD)
  • International repatriation
Repatriation
Malaysian law requires that foreigners who die in Malaysia without permanent residence status, who are not citizens, or do not have an MM2H visa, must be repatriated.
Aviation rules discourage or prohibit the repatriation of coffins onboard aircraft, with very few exceptions. Therefore the body must first be cremated, and health and transport certificates for the ashes must be issued prior to repatriation.
It is advisable to appoint a funeral company to make the following arrangements:
  • Issue the Funeral Director's Declaration - a document necessary for repatriation
  • Apply for and collect all other documents: for example, death certificate, health certificate, customs entry permit, customs clearance permit, x-rays of the urn, and embalming certificate
  • Seal the urn to conform with airline requirements for repatriation
  • Arrange flight trays for the transportation of human remains
  • Arranges delivery of the ashes to the airport
The deceased's embassy has to be informed of the intention to repatriate as certain documentation may be required. If no funeral company has been appointed, the embassy may be able to assist in locating either a funeral company or repatriation professional to make the arrangements.

Funeral service and repatriation costs

All expenses relating to a death in Malaysia have to be paid by the deceased's family or next-of-kin. A funeral service and repatriation can be very expensive; there are insurance policies available to cover these costs. Some funeral companies have to be paid in advance if there is no insurance policy already in place.
Euthanasia/Assisted Suicide
Euthanasia is prohibited in Malaysia. Malaysian law considers euthanasia as first degree murder and the penalty is the same: the death penalty.

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