How to Transport Cremains

Posted on July 06, 2016
We are often asked about transporting the cremated remains (cremains) of a loved one, especially during the summer months when families are often planning memorial services. 

Depending on where you live and how you wish to transport the cremains, it can be a simple process. Always make sure to check the laws and regulations in your state or country before transporting ashes anywhere. We are sharing some general guidelines for travel with cremains as well as some things to think about before establishing firm plans.

By Car

It is easy enough to travel cross-country with ashes in a car—there are no specific regulations regarding transporting ashes across state lines by car. We only suggest a heavy-duty urn that will not break in transport rather than those made of glass or ceramic. And always make sure the urn is wrapped up tight in protective materials!

It might be handy to have a certified death certificate with you or a copy, just in case. Or, the funeral home can provide you with a burial transit permit if you wish to have that with you, as well.

By Mail

If you need to mail cremains to a family member, it can be done, but only with the United States Postal Service (USPS). UPS and FedEx will not transport ashes.

Make sure that you follow the USPS rules regarding how to package cremains—there must be an inner and outer container for the cremains and it should be clearly marked. The inner container must be sealed so the ashes cannot sift though, and the postal service recommends a barrier of some sort between the inner and outer container. If you need help choosing a proper container to hold the ashes, please give your funeral home a call.

Any USPS branch can help you with how to package the cremated remains. If you have questions, visit your local branch or check out this guide.

By Plane

It should come as no surprise that traveling with cremains by plane is, by far, the most complicated. With regulations changing frequently, you must check with your airline before flying. Some airlines will allow you to carry on cremains, and others won’t. Know the policy of your particular airline before you travel to avoid headaches while at the airport!

If you are allowed to carry on, you will need to pass them through TSA. Agents will never open the urn, even if you ask them to do so. You will need to make sure the urn has no lead in it so that it will be able to pass through the x-ray. If TSA cannot definitively prove that there are no foreign objects in the urn, they will be forced to hold the urn off the plane. Again, the funeral home can provide a burial transit permit to you when traveling by air (it might make it a bit easier going through security if you have one with you).

Traveling by plane with cremains requires planning and a lot of double checking with airlines! Do your homework, check out this blog by the TSA, and follow the rules—you should be fine if you follow protocol.

Of course, if you have questions, or if you find that you need a permit to travel with the cremains, call your funeral home. We can certainly help you sort out what you may need to travel with your loved one.


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