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Deaths of U.S. Citizens in Foreign Countries

Updated March 23, 2013

From the earliest days of the republic one of the duties of U.S. consular officers was to report to the Department of State the names of U.S. citizens who died within their consular districts. These death reports commonly provide acceptable documentation in the English language for cases in which satisfactory proof of an American death might be very difficult to obtain in any other form. Deaths of persons whose American citizenship is unknown or unasserted by registration are not reported.

Civilian Death Reports, 1975 to today

Deaths are reported to the Department of State. Contact Department of State, Passport Services, Vital Records Section, 1111 19th Street NW, Room 510, Washington, DC 20036.

Civilian Death Reports, 1789-1974

Records are in the National Archives. Read the information below for more information. To obtain copies of records, contact Civilian Records (Room 2600), National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001. Mail questions to this address, or to www.archives.gov/contact/inquire-form.html, or by fax to 301-837-1919. For information on copying charges please see our fee schedule. Do not send money until you receive an order form.

1789-1827. Death reports were filed among the Consular Despatches (Inventory 15, Entry 81), arranged by city and then chronologically. The Consular Despatches are all on microfilm. There are no finding aids.

1828-1870. Death reports were filed among the Consular Despatches (Inventory 15, Entry 81), arranged by city and then chronologically. The Consular Despatches are all on microfilm.

Finding Aids:

(1) 1828-1870. Registers of Consular Despatches in 38 volumes (Inventory 15, Entry 81), divided roughly into four time periods, 1828-53, 1853-64, 1864-66, and 1867-70. There is a Key to the Registers of Consular Despatches (Inventory 15, Entry 80) showing the city and country, dates, register volume, and page numbers for the Registers.

(2) 1835-1855. Record of Death Notices of U.S. Citizens Aboard (Inventory 15, Entry 848) in one volume, arranged chronologically, showing the date of a death notice sent by the Department of State to a U.S. newspaper for publication. Indexed with images online as part of the "Reports of Deaths of American Citizens Abroad, 1835-1974" database on Ancestry.com (available for a fee).

(3) 1857-1922. Notices of Deaths of U.S. Citizens Abroad (Inventory 15, Entry 849), arranged chronologically in 34 volumes. Copies of form notices sent by the Department of State to newspapers reporting the deaths of U.S. citizens in foreign countries. Each notice contains the name of the deceased, the place and date of death, the consul and the consulate reporting the death, and the number and date of the despatch reporting the death. Each volume, except that for 1865-66 (for which there is a separate index volume), contains an alphabetical index by name of deceased. Indexed with images online as part of the "Reports of Deaths of American Citizens Abroad, 1835-1974" database on Ancestry.com (available for a fee).

1870-1906. Death reports were filed among the Consular Despatches (Inventory 15, Entry 81), arranged by city and then chronologically. The Consular Despatches are all on microfilm.

Finding Aids:
(1) 1870-1906. Registers of Consular Despatches in 14 volumes (Inventory 15, Entry 82) are on rolls 19-32 of NARA microfilm publication M17, Registers of Correspondence of the Department of State, 1870-1906 (71 rolls).

(2) 1857-1922. Notices of Deaths of U.S. Citizens Abroad (Inventory 15, Entry 849), arranged chronologically in 34 volumes. Copies of form notices sent by the Department of State to newspapers reporting the deaths of U.S. citizens in foreign countries. Each notice contains the name of the deceased, the place and date of death, the consul and the consulate reporting the death, and the number and date of the despatch reporting the death. Each volume, except that for 1865-66 (for which there is a separate index volume), contains an alphabetical index by name of deceased. Indexed with images online as part of the "Reports of Deaths of American Citizens Abroad, 1835-1974" database on Ancestry.com (available for a fee).

1906-1910. Death reports were filed in the Numerical File (Inventory 15, Entry 192), available on microfilm as NARA microfilm publication M862, Numerical and Minor Files of the Department of State, 1906-1910 (1,241 rolls), with 25,892 separate case files.

Finding Aids:
(1) 1906-1910. There is a card index for the Numerical File (Inventory 15, Entry 188) with an index card for each deceased person for whom there is a death report showing the Numerical File case number.

(2) 1857-1922. Notices of Deaths of U.S. Citizens Abroad (Inventory 15, Entry 849), arranged chronologically in 34 volumes. Copies of form notices sent by the Department of State to newspapers reporting the deaths of U.S. citizens in foreign countries. Each notice contains the name of the deceased, the place and date of death, the consul and the consulate reporting the death, and the number and date of the despatch reporting the death. Each volume, except that for 1865-66 (for which there is a separate index volume), contains an alphabetical index by name of deceased. Indexed with images online as part of the "Reports of Deaths of American Citizens Abroad, 1835-1974" database on Ancestry.com (available for a fee).

1910-1962. Death reports were filed in the Decimal File (Inventory 15, Entry 205), arranged by time period, 1910-29, 1930-39, 1940-44, 1945-49, then by file number (3**.113) with ** representing the number for the country of death; or 1950-54, 1955-59, 1960-62, thereunder by file number (2**.113) with ** representing the number for the country of death. Indexed with report images online as part of the "Reports of Deaths of American Citizens Abroad, 1835-1974" database on Ancestry.com (available for a fee).

Finding Aids:
(1) 1910-1962. There is a Name Card index to the Decimal File (Inventory 15, Entry 199) that shows the name of the deceased person and the decimal file number of the report. If there is no name card, there is no death report.

(2) 1857-1922. Notices of Deaths of U.S. Citizens Abroad (Inventory 15, Entry 849), arranged chronologically in 34 volumes. Copies of form notices sent by the Department of State to newspapers reporting the deaths of U.S. citizens in foreign countries. Each notice contains the name of the deceased, the place and date of death, the consul and the consulate reporting the death, and the number and date of the despatch reporting the death. Each volume, except that for 1865-66 (for which there is a separate index volume), contains an alphabetical index by name of deceased. Indexed with images online as part of the "Reports of Deaths of American Citizens Abroad, 1835-1974" database on Ancestry.com (available for a fee).

1963-1974. Death reports were filed by year, then alphabetically by name. To use the original records, it is necessary for researchers to know the year as well as the name of the deceased. An index is available online as part of the "Reports of Deaths of American Citizens Abroad, 1835-1974" database on Ancestry.com (available for a fee).

Active Duty Military Personnel

Deaths of active duty military personnel are reported to the Defense Department. For information relating to individual casualty case files, call (800) 325-4988; email askhrc.army@us.army.mil; or write to U.S. AHRC, AHRC-PDC-P, 1600 Spearhead Div. Ave., Fort Knox, KY 41022-5405.

For information relating to American overseas cemeteries and to former military personnel buried overseas, please contact the American Battle Monuments Commission, Suite 500, 2300 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201-3367.

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