This is a guide for foreigners resident in Egypt in the event of a death.
Unknown persons dying in Egypt.
Because of local custom, the deceased must be buried within 24 hours.
Egyptian Law states that every citizen must carry about their person an id card which hold information regarding name, address, and religion.
All citizens who reach the age of 16 MUST by law carry id.
Carrying the id ensures that should anyone be involved in an accident or death, the family can be notified immediately.
If an Egyptian child under 16, or any unidentified citizen dies without an id and no member of the family comes forward within a few days to claim it from a hospital mortuary, the body is then interred after a Muslim ceremony in the mosque, in a public paupers grave at the expense of the government.
The same rule applies to a foreigner dying in Egypt unknown.
Because the identity cannot be established the state will inter the body due to local custom in a paupers grave.
Foreign consulates would not be informed if there was no identifying marker, ie on a tour with a manifesto, holding a ticket with a name, some kind of identity marker about the person or surroundings.
It is for this reason that it is VITAL for a foreigner to keep about their person some form of id at all times. even a trip to the local shop.
In the event of the deceased resembling a foreign national, ( anyone with Arabic/African/ Middle Eastern features would presumably not) ie European, the body would be held for a longer period of time to allow relatives to come forward after noticing the deceased was missing. A few days at most.
If id is found then the police will alert the relevant embassy and the embassy will contact the next of kin. The body will be kept in a hospital mortuary till relatives arrive to conduct funeral proceedings.
Please note that embassy's merely advise and hand out numbers to call.
Known foreign persons dying in Egypt.
All foreigners wishing non repatriation should have an Egyptian grave.
All cemeteries have at the entrance 'grave sellers'.
A foreigner would approach one and purchase a grave.
The custom in Cairo is to be interred in a traditional 'house type' grave ( explained in the Dying in Egypt thread).
Elsewhere single graves are popular especially in Christian cemeteries.
It is not essential that an embassy is informed of a foreign nationals death. But it is possible to register the death and be given a foreign death certificate .
Relatives of the deceased must call the Ministry of Health immediately and report the death.
The MOH will then send out a doctor to certify cause of death. If there is no suspicious circumstance he will issue a document with time and cause of death.
This document is taken to the MOH and a death certificate issued for the deceased. This certificate allows burial at the cemetery.
Relatives then call the mosque and other relatives to attend funeral which will be held that day before sunset.
Relatives can then call the local undertaker ( number will be held at the mosque/church).
Relatives and the undertaker then prepare the body in the deceased's home for burial. This includes washing/ wrapping in shroud.
In Egypt a shroud is often called the coffin.
A traditional wooden coffin used to inter bodies abroad, in Egypt is only used to transfer a body to the grave where it is removed and placed on the sand in the grave, and wooden coffin removed.
Some Egyptians are buried in a wooden coffin, but this is not the norm.
Once the body is wrapped it is taken to the mosque/church for a service and from there taken in a truck, or microbus roof to the grave.
The death certificate is shown to the cemetery staff and the grave is opened, the deceased laid on the sand in the cubicle and the grave closed.
Sometimes a relative or relatives will sleep at the graveside within the walls of the 'house grave' for a few nights to protect the body from any mischief.
In Cairo there are two numbers I have for you. These are the only two numbers in the Yellow pages.
Emile Joseph Tawaf
31 El Zaher St.
El Zaher, Cairo
Tel: 02-25906753, 012-3260936, 012-2326708
18 Othman Ibn Affan St., Salah El Deen Sq.
Egypt is NOT Europe. The customs are very different and one should not expect a traditional style European investigation, or burial after death.