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Death of U.S. Citizens in Rwanda

The following information is provided in the format of a report submitted every three years by U.S. Embassy Kigali to the Department of State.  Please direct any questions about this report to the Consular Section of the Embassy at

Part I.  Name of Country


Part II.  U.S. Embassy or Consulate Information

US Embassy Kigali 
2657 Avenue de la Gendarmerie
B.P. 28
Kacyiru, Kigali

250-596-400 (phone)
250-596-591 (fax)
250-596-400 (emergencies after hours)

Part III.  Profile of Religions of the Host Country and Religious Services available to visitors.

Country Profile: See “Background Note: Rwanda”


The country has an area of 10,169 square miles and a population of approximately 9 million. The Government reported on November 1, 2006, that 56.5 percent of the population is Roman Catholic, 26 percent Protestant, 11.1 percent Seventh-day Adventist, 4.6 percent Muslim, 1.7 percent claims no religious affiliation, and 0.1 percent practice traditional indigenous beliefs. This study indicates a 6.9 percent increase in the number of Catholics and a 17.9 percent decline in the number of Protestants (which can in large part be explained by breaking out the growing Seventh-day Adventist church separately) from the 2001 survey figures. The figures for Protestants include the growing number of members of Jehovah's Witnesses (about 14,000) and evangelical Protestant groups. There is also a small population of Baha'is. There has been a proliferation of small, usually Christian-linked schismatic religious groups since the 1994 genocide.

Foreign missionaries and church-linked nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) of various religious groups operate in the country. Foreign missionaries openly promote their religious beliefs, and the Government welcomes their development assistance.  

Religious Activities for Visitors: 

DISCLAIMER: The following list is provided as a reference of available services. The Embassy in no way endorses any of these organizations. Interested individuals are encouraged to seek additional sources of assistance or references from friends and colleagues rather than relying exclusively on this list.

St. Michel Catholic Church, Kiyovu, opposite old US Embassy.
English mass available.  Offers Sunday School for kids. 

St. Etienne Anglican Church, Kiyovu, past former USAID compound.
English service available. Offers Sunday School for children. Lively Prince of Peace youth choir.  Sermons by Rwandan and European pastors, as well as frequent visitors.  Accompanying day care center. 

Christian Life Assemblies, Nyarutarama, off main road just before Green Hills Academy.
English service available. Sunday School for kids and adults.  Large, professional praise & worship band, sermons by Canadian and Rwandan pastors. Very lively body, with many childrens’ / youth activities, conferences and bible study / community service groups.  Accompanying school. 

Christ’s Church Rwanda, in Vision 2020 Gacuciliro Estate, Kigali International Community School
English service available.  Sunday School for kids.  Small worship team, teaching by American pastor.  Bible studies, youth group and other classes offered. 

Deliverance Church, Kicukiro, before the Sonatubes roundabout on the left hand side.
English service.  Young, growing body, mainly Rwandan. Lay-led teaching and worship.  Affiliated with center for street boys. 

Kigali Seventh Day Adventist Church, near Remera Stadium.
English service available.  Rousing “old school” hymns and choruses. Rwandan / Filipino community.

Presbyterian Church of Rwanda, Kiyovu, on the corner before La Bonne Source grocery
English service available (held in classroom behind the main church).  West African pastors, mixed missionary body. 

Part IV.  Funeral Directors, Mortician and Related Services Available in the Host Country

DISCLAIMER: The U.S. Embassy, Kigali, Rwanda, assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the following persons or firms. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the funeral directors, morticians and other service providers.

  • Rwanda Funeral Services Ltd. provides comprehensive embalming and post-mortem services and will eventually provide morgue space. Rwanda Funeral Services is located on the airport road opposite the Ministry of Commerce in Kicukiro; 250-(0)376-4455 or
  • Mortuary contact information:  Edith Rukuse, 250-(0)852-1664 (King Faisal Hospital) or Deo Kamurase 250-(0)831-2008 (King Faisal Hospital)
  • Local Burial contact information: Iwabo wa Twese/located in Remera, Kigali –

Languide Nyirababeruka (ph: 250-(0)842-0313) or Theophile Kayiranga (ph: 250-(0)884-6374)

Part V.  Profile of services available in the host country regarding preparation and shipment of remains:  

There are two primary options regarding the disposition of remains for a person who has died in Rwanda: burial in Rwanda or shipment to the U.S.  Cremation has been done in the past by the local Hindu community but the honorary Indian consul reports it has been suspended (as of 1/09) until new land is found that meets Rwandan zoning law requirements. 

1.Maximum period Before Burial of Remains 

Remains are required to be interred or placed in a hermetically sealed coffin within 24 hours of death, but the law has not been enforced.  An exception can be made on a doctor’s certification that the body can be properly stored without medical risk.  If the body is to be shipped out of the country, the sealed coffin must be removed from Rwanda within 10 days to avoid additional legal documentation.

2.  Embalming  

There are limited embalming facilities in Rwanda.  Rwanda Funeral Services Ltd. (R.F.S.) brings in an embalmer from Uganda at a cost of $500 for their embalming service.  Embalming through Rwanda Funeral Services is not to U.S. standards and involves only injection of a formalin solution into the descendant. 

Victoria Funeral Service in Kampala will embalm persons who have died in Rwanda.  The remains are transported out of Rwanda and embalmed in Kampala.   

The nearest established embalming facilities are located in Kampala, Nairobi, and Johannesburg.  The National University Hospital at Butare and King Faisal Hospital in Kigali can and provide cold storage and autopsies.   King Faisal hospital routinely injects corpses with formalin to stabilize them pending interment or repatriation.

If the remains are to be transported out of Rwanda, RFS provides the zinc-lined box and handles domestic transport and up to the airport, where they are transferred to the airlines’ possession.  The deceased is placed in a basic casket and that is placed in a zinc-lined air tray conforming to standards for international repatriation.   

A local doctor can be asked to stabilize the remains by injection of small amounts of formaldehyde.  A doctor with hospital privileges can arrange interim storage of the remains at the morgue of either of the two main hospitals in Kigali (King Faisal and Centre Hospitier de Kigali, or CHK).  King Faisal Hospital has capacity for 4 bodies while CHK has space for 3.  In the event of a large-scale tragedy, the military hospital at Kanombe may be able to provide further cold storage facilities.   

Key Contacts:

  • Rwanda Funeral Services Ltd. provides rudimentary embalming and post-mortem services. Rwanda Funeral Services is located opposite King Faisal Hospital; 250-(0)78-376-4455 or
  • Victoria Funeral Service in Kampala, Uganda, provides embalming, cremation, and preparations that meet international standards.  +256  (0)782 55 68 78 / 792 112 999 / +256 793 112 999 / +256 712 112 999 / 0712 200 388;
  • Mortuary contact information:  Edith Rukuse, 250-(0)78-852-1664 (King Faisal) or Deo Kamurase 250-(0)78-831-2008 (King Faisal)
  • Local Burial contact information: Iwabo wa Twese/located in Remera, Kigali –

Languide Nyirababeruka (ph: 250-(0)78-842-0313) or Theophile Kayiranga (ph: 250-(0)78-884-6374)

The Rwandan Ministry of Health is responsible for licensing funeral directors and morgues. 

3.  Cremation

As of fall, 2012, cremation in Rwanda is only authorized for limited populations and was executed in the traditional manner using ghee, a funeral pyre, and, in some cases, cow dung.   

Cremation is available through Victoria Funeral Service in Uganda. 

4.  Caskets and Containers 

Locally made wood caskets are available.  No metal-lined, hermetically sealable caskets are sold locally; however they can be obtained from neighboring Uganda and take 1 day to deliver.  The Embassy stocks a very limited number of basic caskets that are zinc-lined and can be hermetically sealed. 

5.  Exportation of Remains and Human Ashes

To export human remains, the following documents are required by Rwandan authorities:

1)      A doctor’s death certificate (certificat de décès) signed and stamped by an attending physician that includes a simple statement certifying name, date and place of birth of the deceased, date and place of death, and cause of death.

2)      Official death certificate (acte de décès) obtained from office of the district where the death occurred: this detailed death certificate can be obtained in half a day on a weekday.  It must be signed by two witnesses who saw the remains and by a district official.  When requesting the official death certificate, the district will require the following documents:

  • The deceased’s passport, or a certified true copy of the passport information page;
  • A doctor’s death certificate

Information required to fill out the official death certificate includes:

  • Name, date, and place of birth, and profession of deceased;
  • Name, profession and address of deceased’s mother and father;
  • Marital status of deceased;
  • Name of deceased’s spouse;
  • Name and address of physician who prepared death certificate.

3)      Letter of Permission from the Rwanda National Police CID to remove the body from Rwanda

There are direct flights to Europe on SN Brussels 2-3 times per week and daily flights to the hubs of Nairobi and Addis Ababa on Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines respectively.  East Africa Cargo is the principal shipper of air freight (, and can facilitate the repatriation of remains.  As Rwanda is a relatively small country, bodies can be transported by vehicle to Kigali within about 6 hours from any major town.  Alternatively, there is a private helicopter rental service available at:

Shipping Instructions

Give the shipper 4 sets of supporting documents.  One set (originals) in sealed envelope for NOK, marked for NOK and including a letter to the family.  Include deceased's passport (Consular Officer can cancel by hole punching).  One set in sealed envelope marked for US Customs, Port of Entry and for the funeral home; One set for the airline.  One set for Rwandan customs.

Once shipment is finalized and there is an airway bill, send the flight itinerary with intermediate stops included to the family and to the funeral home with the airway bill, so that they can track the return.  

Call the funeral home and alert them to the state the body will be in.  Explain that limited embalming is possible here, and that the body will only have been injected with enough formaldehyde to stabilize it.  The funeral director can then help the family to treat the body upon arrival in the U.S.

  • Key Contacts: 
  • Armin Weikl, German citizen running a local garage, has the capability to weld international-standard coffins closed. He charges around 40,000 Rwf, about $70,and can be reached at:+250-(0)8445580. 
  • An airport security agent needs to be present when the coffin is sealed shut.  Contact Egide, Airport Security at: +250 (0)831-1139.  Transport should be provided for the airport security guard to come and witness the closing of the coffin.
  • There is an undertaker located at Brussels International Airport of Zaventem; VANGRUNDERBEEK Tel : (24/24, English spoken), Fax : Email :
  • Koen Dewachter is a shipping agent based in Brussels who has experience sending coffins home to the US.  He can be reached at: Gryphon WL&FR, Ringlaan Building 49, B-1930 Zaventem Tel +3227514440 Fax +3227514441 E-mail: or
  • Daniel Robert, agent for SN Cargo / East Africa Cargo, also has experience shipping coffins out of Kigali and can be reached at: 250-(0)830-1513 / 587-573 or e-mail:

6.  Costs

Charges shown are based on the exchange rate of USD 1.00=635 Rwandan francs as of March 2013.  All fees are approximate and subject to change.

  • Local Burial: Fees including collection and transportation of remains, locally made casket, administrative fees, and cost of plot in public cemetery have increased significantly to around $2000.  The cost of the coffin varies from $250-1200. Possible graveyards include one found in Remera called Iwabo wa Twese – POCs: Languide Nyirababeruka (0842-0313), Theophile Kayiranga (0884-6374).
  • Cremation and Disposal of Ashes: approx. $5-600 including DHL shipping costs.  Please visit for exact weight-based costs and to arrange shipment from the Kigali office.
  • Embalming: $500+
  • Mortuary Fees: A local doctor can stabilize the remains with an injection of a small quantity of formaldehyde.  King Faisal’s morgue fees are as follows:

Ambulance services fees  15,000 Rwf , about $30

Medical reports  5,000 Rwf , about $9

Autopsy done by KFH Staff  100,000 Rwf, about $180

Autopsy done using KFH space but by outside person  50,000 Rwf , about $90

Mortuary charges (1st night free if death occurs at KFH)  20,000 Rwf / night  (about $40)

Please see for more information.

  • Autopsies (Post Mortems): Autopsies are not mandatory in Rwanda.  The victim's family can request one if they wish. King Faisal Hospital (KFH) in Kigali has a qualified pathologist who charges FRW 100,000 (approx. $180) per autopsy.
  • Shipment of Remains: The shipment cost is determined by the airline after the remains are accepted for shipment using a special cargo rate.  The approximate weight of a casket prepared for shipment is 200 kilos for an adult and 100 kilos for a child.  From Kigali, the least expensive method of shipment is via SN Brussels (twice weekly flights) to Brussels and on to a U.S. port of entry.  Fees include the collection and transportation of remains, administrative and doctor’s fees, and casket acceptable to international air carrier. 

Add to this the airfreight charges listed below, assuming transport Kigali-Brussels-U.S. Port of Entry:

                                          Per Kilo                       Est. for 200 Kilos + tax

New York                         USD 15.25                              3,410 USD

Chicago                             USD 15.47                              3,454 USD 

Families should expect the total fees for repatriation of non-cremated remains to be approximately $8,000-$13,000. 

7.  Exhumation and Shipment

Exhumation is permitted only with the permission and in the presence of civil and health authorities, and usually only after 12 months of burial.  Export shipment of the exhumed remains can be arranged with local authorities.

8.  Autopsies 

No autopsy is required by Rwandan authorities for death by natural causes or an accident, but it may be required for death by violent causes.  The Rwanda National Police can provide a referral to a hospital pathologist.  King Faisal Hospital can conduct an autopsy for Rwf 100,000, about $180.  Organs are not removed or retained in Rwanda; the pathologist takes a tissue sample, and performs a biopsy.   Autopsies can be performed immediately, subject to the pathologist's availability, but it can take between three days and a month to finalize the report (in difficult cases the samples must be sent abroad for analysis).  The Rwanda police do request autopsies in death cases involving suspicious circumstances.   In these cases the police pay for the autopsy but will make a copy available to the victim's Next of Kin (NOK).  

9.  Local Customs Regarding Funerals, Disposition of Remains, Mourning, Memorial Services   

Most Rwandans practice Catholic or Protestant burial services similar to those found in the U.S.  Rwanda Funeral Services provides comprehensive post-mortem services and can arrange local funerals. Rwanda Funeral Services is located on the airport road opposite the Ministry of Commerce in Kicukiro; 250-(0)78-376-4455 or at

10.  Remarks 

The Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Kigali will work closely with the family members and employer of a deceased American citizen to arrange local burial or export of the remains as quickly as possible.  While local facilities are very limited, the Rwandan authorities have been quick to help in any way they can. Contact information for consular officer is PH: 250-0830-0351 or 250-596-400, ext. 2631. Duty officer phone number is 250-596-400. 

Several official documents will need to be prepared. The Consular Officer will assist in this process. All official documents accompanying remains to the U.S. should be authenticated, translated, and notarized.  A complete set of supporting documents will be prepared along with the final Official Report of Death (OF-180) for the NOK and U.S. federal benefits agencies.

Consular Mortuary Certificate 

Republic of Rwanda   )
Prefecture of Kigali    )
City of Kigali              )
U.S. Embassy            ) 

I, [Your Name], Duty Officer of the United States of America in and for the consular district of Kigali, Republic of Rwanda, duly commissioned and qualified, hereby certify that the attached documents are to accompany the remains of [Name of Deceased], citizen of the United States, who died at Kigali on [Date of Death];  that the remains are to be shipped from the airport of Kanombe, Kigali on or about [Date of Shipment]; that the remains are encased in a container to which is affixed a transit permit; and that the remains are to enter the United States at the port of [Name of Port] by [Method of Shipment] on or about [Date Body Will Arrive in USA]. 

The following documents are attached and made a part of this certificate:

(1) Official Death Certificate.
(2) Affidavit of [Name of Bourgmestre], Bourgmestre, Commune of [Name of Commune], City of Kigali (Acte de Deces).
(3) Affidavit of the Local Funeral Director.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and official seal this ______ day of _______, 20___. 

Consular Officer, United States Embassy Kigali

Affidavit by the Local Funeral Director 

VENUE                       ) 
Republic of Rwanda   )
Prefecture of Kigali    )
City of Kigali              )
U.S. Embassy            ) 

Before me, [your name], Consular Officer/Duty Officer of the United States of America in and for the consular district of Kigali, Rwanda duly commissioned and qualified, appeared in person [Name of Affiant]] who stated under oath as follows:

My name is [Name of Affiant].  I am the [Title of Person] at [Name of Office] in Kigali, Rwanda.                      

I certify that I prepared by injection with formaldehyde the remains of [Name of Deceased], a citizen of the United States, who died at Kigali, on [Date of Death], that I witnessed the packing of the remains for the shipment to the United States; that the casket and case contains nothing but the remains of [Name of Deceased] together with the necessary clothing and packing; and that the outer container is marked and addressed to:

[Shipping Address]

Signature of Affiant

Typed/Printed Name of Affiant

Subscribed and sworn to before me this _______ day of ___________, 20___.

Consular Officer of the United States of America