It is not at all unusual that cremated human ashes need to be transported across the country or even to another continent. Transporting ashes is not a difficult task but there are some things that you have to arrange prior transportation in order to ensure the process goes smoothly.
There is a growing need for the easy transportation of cremated remains, as the cremation rate increases. You may need to take the ashes on a air plane, mail them via post services, or even drive with them over country or state borders.
To help you during this difficult time of grief, we have selected some resources, explaining how to transport cremains, and to ensure that your loved one’s final journey is as confusion and stress-free as possible.
Transporting cremation ashes by air
Most airlines will allow you to transport cremation remains, either as air cargo, or as carry-on or checked luggage, but each airline’s policy differs, so you’ll need to check with your airline prior boarding.
Whether shipping the cremains as cargo or as checked luggage, consider all of the following:
- Check with the airline to determine their exact policies on either shipping or handling as luggage;
- Check the requirements of the Transportation Security Administration(TSA). This means for you is that you must ensure that the container holding the cremated remains of your loved one is "security friendly" as defined by the TSA. Generally, this means a thin-walled, lightweight urn constructed of plastic, wood or ceramic.
- Carry on the Death Certificate, Certificate of cremation or other needed documents, provided by the funeral agency prior the funeral arrangement.
- Arrive early so you can have time for security clearance;
Urns are the most commonly used vessels for cremation remains, but not all of them meet airline standards. Many are difficult to x-ray because they generate an opaque image, and the contents within cannot be determined by airline personnel.
Usually airport security employees are not allowed to open urns, and if the urn for ashes cannot be scanned on a x-ray it will not be allowed on the plane.
Transporting ashes on a International flights
This will for sure require some more planning, as each country has it's own specifics regarding this. When flying internationally it would be better to give yourself more time to plan ahead , we suggest at least a month prior if any documents need to be provided.
Your first action should be to contact the embassy of the destination country to ensure they accept cremation ashes and also to check what documents are required.
If you feel that making these arrangements yourself is not something you want to do, usually funeral directors can do it for. In addition, they frequently offer x-ray friendly containers for the ashes.
When in doubt, always ask the funeral director or crematory staff who are handling the cremation process.
Here is a list of Airlines requirements that we are aware of :
- United Airlines - They accept cremation ashes as carry-on or checked baggage but only if they can pass x-ray scanners.
- Southwest Airlines - If you are travelling with them the urns should be in a plastic or cardboard container and only in a carry-on.
- British Airways - Both as carry-on or checked baggage, however, you will need the death certificate, as well as the the certificate of cremation.
- Delta Airlines - Same as British Airways, you need to provide the death certificate and the one for cremation. Ashes can be transported as carry-on, checked luggage, or even as cargo.
- Air Canada - Same rules as United Airlines, carry-on baggage and x-ray friendly containers
Sending cremation ashes by post services
Shipping the ashes is usually not as widespread as travelling with the cremation urn for ashes. However, if you have to do this, please take into consideration the following:
- If you are based in The USA you can only use USPS as a courier company for this type of services. UPS, FedEx and DHL do not accommodate families wishing to transport cremains of their pets or loved ones.
- According to the USPS official guide to packaging and shipping cremated remains, customers must use Priority Mail Express services to ship cremains within the United States. Instructions are available on the USPS website (here) or you can download their publication #139, How to Pack and Ship Cremated Remains, for detailed information.
As mentioned before, the most best course of action is to have a funeral director handling all this for you.
The process of transporting, shipping or mailing an urn with cremains of a loved one can seem like a complicated list of procedures. If you are well prepared there is nothing to worry about. Your patience will be rewarded by a positive experience in getting your loved one to the chosen meaningful destination.
We hope this guide has been useful to you. If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org