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Understanding the Funeral Process in Spain: What to Expect

Understanding the Funeral Process in Spain: What to Expect


In Spain, the funeral process has some unique characteristics that can be different from other countries, particularly for those who come from the UK or Ireland. Understanding the funeral process in Spain can help you better prepare for the loss of a loved one and ensure their final wishes are carried out. Here are some key aspects of the funeral process in Spain:

Grieving and Mourning


Funeral Process in Spain, Timeline:

Funerals in Spain typically take place much more quickly than in other countries. In most cases, the funeral or cremation is held within 24-72 hours after the person has passed away. This is due to a combination of factors, including cultural customs and the warm climate, which can affect the preservation of the body.


Grieving and Mourning:

Grieving and mourning customs can differ between cultures, and it is essential to respect the customs of the deceased and their family. In Spain, it is common for family and friends to gather at the funeral home for a wake (velatorio), where they can pay their respects and offer condolences to the family.



If the cause of death is not immediately apparent, an autopsy may be required by law. This is more common if the person passed away unexpectedly or if there is any suspicion of foul play. The local authorities will usually handle the autopsy process.


Registration of Death:

The death must be registered with the local Civil Registry (Registro Civil) within 24 hours. This is typically done by the funeral home or the hospital where the person passed away. The family will need to provide the deceased person’s passport and other identification documents.


Funeral Homes / Tanatorios:

Funeral homes (tanatorios) in Spain provide various services, including preparation of the body, arranging transportation, and organizing the funeral or cremation. It is essential to choose a funeral home that understands your family’s customs, beliefs, and language, as funeral traditions can vary significantly between countries.

tanatorio, Spanish funeral home


Religious and Cultural Customs:

Spain is predominantly a Catholic country, and many funeral customs reflect this. However, Spain has become more diverse over the years, and funeral homes are now more accommodating to different religious and cultural beliefs. It is essential to discuss your family’s customs and traditions with the funeral home to ensure that they can cater to your specific needs.

Spanish Funeral Customs


Cemeteries and Burials:

In Spain, cemeteries are usually managed by the local municipality. Burial plots can be purchased or rented, but it is essential to be aware that in some cases, the plots are rented for a specific number of years, after which the remains may be exhumed and placed in an ossuary if the lease is not renewed. Cremation is also an option and has become more popular in recent years.



If the deceased was a foreign national and the family wishes to repatriate the body to their home country, it is crucial to work with a funeral home experienced in international repatriation. The process can be complex, and there are specific legal and logistical requirements that must be met.

Understanding the funeral process in Spain can help you better prepare for the loss of a loved one and ensure their final wishes are carried out. It is essential to work with professionals who are familiar with the customs and legal requirements in Spain to ensure a smooth and respectful process.

If you’re in need of assistance with planning a memorial service or celebration of life for your loved one in Spain, please consider reaching out to me, Sally. As a professional celebrant, I understand the unique aspects of the funeral process in Spain and can help guide you through this difficult time. With my experience and compassionate approach, I can create a meaningful and personalised ceremony that honours the life and legacy of your loved one while respecting your family’s customs and beliefs. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me for any guidance, support, or questions you may have regarding memorial services or celebrations of life in Spain. For more information, please see my Celebration of Life services page.