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Transporting a Body to Another Country


1. What are the rules associated with transporting a body to another country after a person has passed away? 2. What is the recommended method of transporting a body to another country, in a casket or cremation? 3. Can an urn be carried on both international and domestic flights? I appreciate your assistance. Thank you.

Thanks for the question. This one is kind of complex but I think I can give you a bit of help.

Answer to question 1: The first requirement comes from the airlines, and that would be the requirement for the remains to be embalmed. I do not know of any airline that will ship an unembalmed body. Also, the airlines require that the body be shipped in an approved container or "air-tray." Additionally, each foreign country has different rules and regulations regarding the shipping of human remains. Some of the more common requirements would be for the following documents to accompany the body: death certificate, embalming report, passport, burial permit, and a letter from the physician stating that the deceased did not die from a communicable disease.

Some countries require that the remains be shipped in a sealed casket along with the air-tray. A company that specializes in foreign shipments that could give you all the specifics is Bergen Funeral Service. Their toll-free number is 800.262.7901. You can also get the information through the consulate's office in that particular country. To obtain the number for any foreign consulate, call Inman Nationwide Shipping at 800.321.0566.

Answer to question 2: I don't know that there is a "recommended" method for transportation. I think you first have to evaluate what's important for you and what the deceased may have wanted. There may be less restriction on the shipping of cremated remains but it's not all that difficult to ship casketed remains if you get some assistance from someone who has experience in that area.

Answer to question 3: For a domestic flight, most of the major airlines have no restrictions for carrying on cremains. It might be a good idea to carry a certified copy of the death certificate with you at all times in case there is any question about your carry-on package. I would strongly suggest that you leave the cremains in the plastic temporary container that most cremains are placed in at the crematory rather than placing them in the urn.

Why? Because all carry on parcels have to go through the x-ray machine and metal detector and if the urn has any metal in it it may trigger the alarm, resulting in a security person inquiring about the urn's contents, and possibly asking you to open the urn for a visual inspection. Also, the plastic container is pretty durable and poses less risk of breakage if you should accidentally drop it. It probably wouldn't hurt to check with the consulate in the country you will be visiting to see what their rules are about cremated remains. -- Kevin Stockham


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