Death of a U.S. Citizen

Last updated: [05/31/22]

The U.S. Embassy can assist family and friends in the event of the death of a U.S. Citizen in Mauritania. We can act as liaison in arranging the disposition or repatriation of remains.  It is highly advised to read this page first

Even if no assistance is needed in making funeral arrangements, the death of a U.S. citizen, whether resident or tourist, should be reported to the Consular Section so that a “Consular Report of Death of an American Citizen Abroad” can be issued. This English language document is necessary to settle legal and estate matters in the United States.

Be advised that no Western-style mortuaries or funeral directors are available in Mauritania. There are no modern undertakers in Mauritania, and embalming is not widely available. There are two cold storage facilities in Nouakchott and none outside the capital. If a death occurs in the interior of the country, a rapid burial or transfer to Nouakchott is required due to Mauritania’s desert climate. There are no crematoria in Mauritania, and caskets suitable for flight are not generally available.

To report the death of a U.S. citizen abroad, contact us locally at 4525 2660 or from the United States at country code +222 4525 2660. You may also write to our E-mail box:

U.S. Embassy Nouakchott

288, rue 42-100 (Rue Abdallaye)

Nouakchott, Mauritania

Phone: +222 45 25 26 60

Fax: +222 45 25 39 45

After Hours Emergency Phone: +222 36 62 81 63

Country Specific Information

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Mauritania is an Islamic Republic, where Islamic religious law is in force.  For all Muslims, this law stipulates burial as soon as possible after death, and therefore limits the availability of Western-style services.

The Islamic Republic of Mauritania does not have local or national laws that regulate interment within a specific period.  In cases of natural death, interment is left to the family’s discretion.  In the event of an accident or crime requiring an investigation, the remains may be held by the judicial authorities pending resolution of the investigation.

No Western-style mortuaries or funeral directors are available in Mauritania.  There are no modern undertakers in Mauritania.  The common local practice is for family members to prepare the deceased for burial.

There are five Catholic churches in Mauritania, located in Nouakchott, Nouadhibou, Atar, Rosso, and Kaedi.  Services are held on Saturdays and Sundays.  The Protestant church in Nouakchott offers services on Sundays.

For Catholic burials, the Church can arrange the funeral and burial, but the washing of the body must be arranged by the family.  There are people at the local morgues that can be paid to wash the bodies; however there is no formal system for this, nor a set fee. The Catholic Church accepts a nominal donation that includes the plot and prayer service.  Families must pay, however, for the funeral plot to be dug. The Church can help these arrangements.  For mass to be held in honor of the deceased, the Church asks for a 2000 UM donation. The family should arrange for funeral services one day in advance, to ensure that any special requests from the family can be accommodated.  U.S. Embassy Nouakchott can provide the contact information for the duty officer at the Catholic Church in Nouakchott.

Protestant burials follow the same procedures as Catholic burials.  Arrangements can be made for Protestant burials by contacting the church.

DISCLAIMER:  The U.S. Embassy Nouakchott, Mauritania, assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the persons or firms cited in this report.  Names are listed alphabetically, and the order in which they appear has no other significance.  Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the service providers.

CDC requirements for importing human remains depend upon if the body has been embalmed, cremated, or if the person died from a quarantinable communicable disease.

At this time, COVID-19 is a quarantinable communicable disease in the United States and the remains must meet the standards for importation found in 42 Code of Federal Regulations Part 71.55 and may be cleared, released, and authorized for entry into the United States only under the following conditions:

  • The remains are cremated; OR
  • The remains are properly embalmed and placed in a hermetically sealed casket; OR
  • The remains are accompanied by a permit issued by the CDC Director. The CDC permit (if applicable) must accompany the human remains at all times during shipment.
    • Permits for the importation of the remains of a person known or suspected to have died from a quarantinable communicable disease may be obtained through the CDC Division of Global Migration and Quarantine by calling the CDC Emergency Operations Center at 770-488-7100 or emailing

Please see CDC’s guidance for additional information.