Planning your visit
What happens when you’ve died?
“An International death Certificate will be necessary. Your ashes will be sent home later”
As soon as your death has been confirmed the Centre will, by telephone, notify the Swiss police that an assisted suicide has occurred. There will then be a brief official investigation.
There is an important procedural difference at this stage between Dignitas and Lifecircle. Having called the police, the Dignitas team will be happy for anyone accompanying the patient to leave as quickly as they want. Relatives and friends are unlikely to be required for the official investigation but, just in case, Dignitas asks them not to leave Switzerland until the following day. At Lifecircle, someone who has travelled with the patient will need to stay for the purposes of identification. This is, I think, because the Lifecircle self-administered suicide process is more of a medical process than at Dignitas. You should not expect to be able to get to the airport near Basel until at least three hours after the patient’s death.
The final act of the Centre will be to obtain the necessary International Death Certificate.
This can sometimes be somewhat bureaucratic.
The formalities and the cremation itself can take up to two weeks. Therefore relatives do not stay to bring the ashes back home with them. Some are happy for the ashes to remain permanently in Switzerland. In such cases, arrangements can be made accordingly, by the Centre, with a local funeral parlour.
The more usual arrangement is for the ashes to be sent on to the UK after everything has been completed. This will be handled by the Centre in co-operation with a Swiss funeral parlour, usually in conjunction with another undertaker based in Britain.
Occasionally, relatives really do want to bring the ashes back with them. In these cases, relatives usually fly back to Switzerland for the purpose. Anyone bringing ashes back must also have the death certificate, the cremation certificate and customs papers. Travelling with an urn on a plane is not a problem but it will need to be sealed and non-metallic. A few airlines will allow an urn to be carried in the hold but most (and this is also the wish of most relatives) will insist upon it being cabin baggage.Read Next Section >