Arranging a funeral

It is customary in Andorra for funerals to take place within 48 hours of death – but this is not necessary or required. Equally, almost all residents in Andorra are Catholics (even if not practicing ones) – but various different types of funerals and burials are possible. So – please take a little time to consider what the deceased would have liked to have happen and do not be rushed.

The funeral companies have experience of dealing with foreigners and the St. George’s Church has experience of helping the bereaved make appropriate decisions (if for a believer then through the churchwardens and for others through experienced members of the chaplaincy council.

It is recommended that unless a local catholic funeral service (in Catalan or Spanish – the languages spoken by the local parish priests), followed by burial or cremation locally, is the appropriate choice, contact be made via one of the churchwardens to find the most suitable arrangements.

Note that cremation is now common in Andorra – and may be a suitable alternative to local burial in a “niche” which is generally only reserved for a limited number of years (and then the remains are removed) as only Andorrans and certain long term residents may purchase a niche (nínxol).

The following are “normal” arrangements that have been made on various occasions for members of the English Speaking resident community:

  1. Church funeral service in English taken by a visiting Anglican chaplain – this type of service needs be arranged through the churchwardens (see above); the service itself may be held in the hospital chapel or a local parish church.
  2. Church funeral service mainly in English but with Spanish (or Catalan) spoken by the local parish priest – this type of service is essentially non denominational and can include a variety of hymns, music, readings, etc as required); members of the chaplaincy council have considerable experience of helping arrange these services; the service itself may be held in the hospital chapel or a local parish church.
  3. Non religious funeral ceremony at a local hotel; certain members of the chaplaincy council have experience of helping arrange these ceremonies.
  4. Memorial services in English conducted by a visiting Anglican chaplain – this type of service needs be arranged through the churchwardens (see above) and would normally be held in a local parish church.

Following the funeral service it is customary for the family to accompany the body to the cemetery for burial (in a “niche” rather than a grave – the opening and sealing of the niche is not an uplifting experience) or to the crematorium for cremation (as there is no ceremony here this again is not an uplifting experience – it is a very “mechanical” procedure as cremation takes place). Again, it is customary but the funeral company can do this without the presence of the family.

Receptions are commonly arranged after the funeral at local hotels. These can be simple or elaborate. It is possible to combine a non religious funeral ceremony and reception at the same location.

The “Official” Processes:

The funeral director will carry out the following (as part of the standard service provided) but will need both passport and residencia for some of the formalities:

  • Registry of the death at the Civil registry and obtaining of the death certificate (note – request at least two originals and some copies – many later processes require the production of the death certificate)
  • Notification to the Comu of the death (to remove the deceased from the register of inhabitants)
  • Arranging for the funeral (assuming a normal local catholic service and burial or cremation is required all costs are included except the fee for the parish priest)
  • Mechanical arrangements for any cemetery (obtaining of keys, opening and sealing of niches)

NOTES:

Costs – assuming rental of a niche in a lower priced parish, a simple coffin, mortuary fees, funeral company fees, some flowers, a local church funeral service with an organist and the a simple headstone, total funeral costs are likely to be in the region of  €3,000. With cremation (and an urn) instead of niche and headstone the funeral costs are likely to be in the region of €2,500.

Funeral companies –  Funeraria Sixto (Andorra la Vella) – 807180 (often used – they have somebody available who does speak English) – Pompes Funebres Andorranes (Andorra la Vella)– 822466/321466 (the biggest) – Pompes Funebres de las Valls (Andorra la Vella) – 866632 – P Marsenyach (Encamp) – 831236 (have somebody available who does speak English)

Flowers – are not obligatory or included in the funeral company pricing – they will buy for you though (wreaths start at close to €100) – it is normal for flowers from relatives and friends to be delivered to the funeral company (florists normally provide this service) – flowers for the chapel or church have to be separately purchased and arranged by the family.

Headstones – these are not obligatory in cemeteries but can be arranged for after the funeral via the funeral company, which will also advise on any specific parochial regulations about them.

Niches (nínxols) – the prices vary widely between the parishes and the normal rental period is only six years (eight in Escaldes); the range of prices for rental is from around €500 to well over €1,000 depending on the parish.

Scattering of ashes – there appears to be no local restriction on this being done; there are restrictions in other countries (eg France) that may need to be considered.

Transporting a body abroad – the funeral company is able to arrange this. Pricing varies significantly depending on distance, airline used, etc. It is never cheap and there are relevant formalities to consider here, in transportation and on reception. It is much easier to remove ashes after a cremation.