DEATH: Disposition of Remains Report

DATE: September 21, 2017

TO: Department of State – CA/OCS/ACS/EAP

FROM: American Embassy, Majuro


SUBJECT: DEATH: Disposition of Remains Report

REF: 7 FAM 260

Part I. Name of Country

Marshall Islands

Part II. U.S. Embassy Information

U.S. Embassy, Majuro

Address: Mejen Weto, Long Island, Majuro 96960

Phone: (692) 247-4011

Fax: (692) 247-4012

State Department Country Specific Information

State Department Travel Information

Register with the U.S. Embassy with the Smart Travel Enrollment Program (STEP)

Part III. Profile of Religions of the Host Country and Religious Services Available to Visitors

Country Profile: Visit the State Department’s website, “Background Note: Marshall Islands

Religions: Christianity, primarily Protestant denominations. Other Christian denominations include Roman Catholic, Seventh-day Adventist, Mormon, Salvation Army, and Jehovah’s Witness. Small Jewish and Ahmadiyya Muslim communities also exist.

Religious Activities for Visitors: Some English-language services are available in the Majuro areas for members of most denominations.

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

DISCLAIMER: The U.S. Embassy, Majuro, Marshall Islands assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the following institutions. 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.

There are no funeral directors or private morticians available in the Marshall Islands. All preparation of remains is done by the Ministry of Health. The quality of care provided is substandard to the expectations of individuals using a reputable funeral company in the United States.

  • Majuro Public Hospital

Delap Island, adjacent to Capitol Building

Majuro Atoll

Mortician Point of Contact: Nexon Jablon

Tel: (692) 625-3355

Cell Phone: (692) 455-2244

Embalming Point of Contact: Nexon Jablon

Tel: (692) 625-3355

Cell Phone: (692) 455-2244

  • Ebeye Hospital

Kwajalein Atoll

Point of Contact: Mr. Johnny Choban

Tel: (692) 329-8030/9911

  • Pacific Islands International (Cremation Services only)

Long Island

Majuro Atoll

Point of Contact: Ms. Aiyako Schmidt

Tel: (692) 625-3122

  • Medi-Source Pacific Inc. (Hearse transportation service only)

Uliga, Majuro

Point of Contact: Mr. Sandy Alfred

Tel: (692) 625-3784

Part V. Profile of Services Available in the Marshall Islands Regarding Preparation and Shipment of Remains


RMI law does not place a time limit on burial, whether or not the remains are embalmed. However, local custom generally dictates that a body be buried or embalmed within seven days from death. If a body is embalmed, the body is usually buried after seven days. While burial is the most common way of disposing of remains, land is scarce and there are no public cemeteries.


All embalming is performed by the Ministry of Health, either in Majuro or Ebeye. Embalming is generally done as soon as possible but no later than 7 days after death.


Cremation is uncommon, due to cultural and religious taboos against the practice. There are no crematoria in the Marshall Islands. However, some have contracted with Pacific Island International to perform cremation services on an ad hoc basis. PII cremation procedures will not result in the same sized fine ash as it does in the United States. There are no defined legal requirements related to cremation.


There are no Marshallese laws governing the exportation of human remains. A casket containing a body or human ashes is treated as ordinary freight. The sole international airline servicing the Marshall Islands—United/Continental—requires that the body be placed in a metal lined casket. The casket is then placed in a freight carton. Some local companies have a few caskets in stock and can build a casket upon request. Casket can be requested from the Ministry of Health.

Ashes are placed in a sealed container suitable to pass through the x-ray machine as required by TSA when they are carried by an individual on board an aircraft or mailed overseas through the U.S. Postal Service.


Documentary requirements for exportation of human remains are as follows:


  1. Death Certificate from the Ministry of Health, issued and signed by a physician;
  2. Removal Form stating that the remains have no quarantined diseases issued and signed by a physician;
  3. Embalming certificate issued by the Ministry of Health;
  4. Memo from National police department documenting approval for remains to leave the island;
  5. Consular Report of Death issued by the Consular Officer.


  1. Death Certificate from the Ministry of Health, issued and signed by a physician;
  2. Consular Report of Death, issued by the Consular Officer.
  3. COSTS

Charges are based on the U.S. Dollar which is the currency of the Marshall Islands.

Local Burial:

Estimated costs including wood casket, certificates, embalming and burial at cemetery with service:


Local Cremation:

Estimated costs including transportation of remains to PII facilities and cremation fees:


Preparation and shipment of deceased to USA:

Estimated costs related to preparation of human remains for shipment (assuming 200KG) including embalming, metal casket, shipping container, legal documentation and certificates, and shipping costs by air from Majuro:

To Honolulu US$2,650

To Washington D.C. US$4,650

Preparation and shipment of cremated remains to USA:

Estimated costs including cremation fees and shipment costs:


Contact United Airlines Cargo for more information:  

    • Airport 247-3160 or 247-3092

NOTE: All prices quoted above are estimated shipping costs only and may be subject to change.


Exhumation of remains is extremely rare in the Marshall Islands. No officials at the Ministry of Health recall any exhumation occurring in recent history. There are no established protocols or laws regarding an exhumation. The Ministry of Health will address exhumation on an ad hoc basis.


Autopsies are rare in the Marshall Islands and generally are only performed upon request from the RMI National Court or the RMI Attorney General’s office. The costs and procedures vary according to the specific circumstances surrounding the death. The Ministry of Health is responsible for conducting the autopsy, however, there are currently no qualified coroners in country.


Marshallese funeral includes a wake, burial in a family grave, and a memorial ceremony. During the wake, known as the Ilomej, the embalmed body usually remains in the custody of the family for one week, during which time extended family and friends pay their respects and celebrate the life of the deceased. Mourners traditionally bring condolence money (usually one dollar per person) and surviving family members prepare a large quantity of food for those who pay their respects during the week. The Ilomej is frequently the most expensive part of a funeral and can cost over $5,000.

The burial ceremony usually occurs about one week after death. As the body is laid in the grave, remarks are given by the Iroij (paramount chief) and Alap (chief) who own the land where the dead is buried and the parents or immediate relatives of the deceased.

Three days after the burial, a memorial service, known as the Eorak, is conducted at the burial site. Family members place white pebbles or coral around the grave site, signifying that tensions among family members have been removed and the dead may rest in peace.