What to do in case of a death

Reporting a death varies depending on whether the deceased died at home or in hospital

Reporting a death to the registry office varies depending on whether the deceased died at home or in a healthcare institution. The deceased or stillborn child may not be buried or cremated until it has been examined.

Death at home

If a person dies at home, this needs to be immediately reported. The death has to be reported by the deceased’s co-habitants, relatives or neighbours or, if there are no such persons, by any person who learns about the death.

The procedure is as follows:
  • Call for an ambulance (194) or call the police (192)
  • The officials will call a coroner
  • The coroner needs to be provided access to the deceased; prepare the medical records if the deceased was ill, as well as all of the deceased’s information from the public registers so that the coroner can issue a burial permit and organise transportation
  • After filling in a death report, the coroner will issue a burial permit
  • Contact an authorised funeral home, remains carrier or funeral assistance association (if the deceased has concluded an agreement on funeral assistance, take their ID card with you)
  • Take all of the documents required to report a death which are issued by a coroner to the registry office for the purpose of reporting and registering the deceased in the register of deaths.

The fact of death is to be reported to the registrar in whose jurisdiction the death occurred or the deceased was found within three days. You can find a list of registry offices on the website of the Ministry of Justice and Public Administration.

Death in a healthcare institution

If a death occurs in a healthcare institution in the territory of the Republic of Croatia, you need to: 
  • Contact the ward to which the deceased was admitted
  • Provide all of the deceased’s personal information so that the death can be reported to the registry office
  • Bring the clothes in which the deceased is to be buried to the appropriate hospital department (pathology department, not the ward to which the person was admitted)
  • Agree the details of transport, equipment and burial with an authorised funeral home, remains carrier or a funeral assistance association or contact an authorised funeral home, remains carrier or funeral assistance association.

If the deceased person’s body is not collected within 24 hours, the healthcare institution will charge a special fee for each subsequent day after the prescribed time limit.

An autopsy has to be carried out on persons who died in a healthcare institution to establish their cause of death.

At the request of immediate family and if so agreed with the head of the healthcare institution and the pathologist, it may be decided that an autopsy will not be carried out.

Required autopsy

An autopsy is required in the following cases:
  • Unnatural death or unknown cause of death
  • If the death occurred during a diagnostic or therapeutic procedure
  • If the death occurred within 24 hours from the deceased’s admission to the healthcare institution
  • If the deceased was a participant in a clinical trial for a medicine or medicinal product, that is, in other scientific research in a healthcare institution
  • In case of the death of a person whose body parts may transplanted for the purpose of treatment in accordance with a special act.

Sudden/violent death

If the coroner evaluates that the death occurred under suspicious circumstances; that is, that it is a violent death related to a criminal offence, the coroner has to inform the police.

In case of a sudden death, if the cause is unknown or unclear, the coroner has to request an autopsy and the deceased will be transported to the Department of Forensic Medicine, and the family will receive the death certificate from the hospital or the coroner. The medical doctor who carried out the autopsy has to inform the state administration body or the healthcare institution designated for supervision of the coroner’s work of the autopsy result and deliver a written autopsy report to it. 

Funeral for socially vulnerable persons

The Social Welfare Act provides for coverage of basic funeral expenses for socially vulnerable persons. These expenses cover the price of a coffin, grave marker, and burial in a dug-out grave at a special city cemetery lot.