Shipping Human Remains

Shipping Cremains

National Shipping

Shipping Human (Cremains /  Remains) Nationally

Since many families are geographically seperated it is not uncommon to ship either a love one’s cremains (ashes) or transport their entire body (remains) to another location, either Nationally or Internationally.

It is not a difficult task, it is a matter of proper preparation and having the appropriate legal paperwork.  In this section, we will deal with traveling with cremains, shipping cremains and shipping full body remains across the United States.

Family Traveling with Cremains (Ashes)

When taking cremains within via plane within the United States it is best to just carry them as part of your hand luggage.  This is our recommended way, as checked items do, on occasion, get lost by airlines.

When cremains are carried on the plane, urn muct be X-rayable. The standard plastic container supplied by the crematory or funeral home is good for this and complies with TSA guidlines. Note that the urn will never be opened by security personal – even when asked to do so to verify contents.

Cremation Container for Shipping Cremains

If the urn cannot be X-Rayed, it must be taken as check luggage. If this is the case, it will be tested for explosive residue and carried in the luggage compartment of the plane.

In either of the cases above you should have the following documentation with you.

  • Certificate of cremation from the crematory
  • Certified copy of the death certifiate
  • Disposition or Transit permit from the funeral home


Shipping Cremated Human Remains

In the case of shipping cremains all that is required is the disposition permit / transit permit.

The urn should be placed in either a special cardboard shipping box designed especially to ship the standard plastic urn or a cremains shipping box provided by the post office. The port office boxes may be ordered from the post office at no charge.

Box for Mailing Cremains

Shipping Human Remains – Full Body

In the case of shipping human remains (full body shipping) the funeral home will need a standard permit if shipping within the state and a transit permit it the deceased is leaving the state. There are a few options to consider such as the weight of the deceased and if the deceased is going to be embalmed.  Embalming may not be required but if not the deceased is preserved by using ice (probably dry ice). A zeigler case may be required – a steel case that can be hermetically sealed.

Shipping Human Remains – Combo-Unit

Most of the time the deceased is placed in an “combo-unit“. It has a wooden base and a heavy cardboard enclosure. The deceased is almost always embalmed and is fastened to the wooden tray and the cardboat enclosure is then fastened to the tray.

The deceased is usually not dressed. At least not dressed in the cloths they will be wearing for the funeral. They are often wrapped in a sheet and placed in a standard body bag.

Shipping Human Remains – AirTray

If the deceased is heavier or if a casket is being shipped, the funeral home will need to use an airtray. It is very similiar to a combo-unit but designed to hold more weight.  The deceased is almost always embalmed and  placed in the casket. 

The deceased in this case is usually dressed but not always.

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