Following the rules...
There are a number of issues involved in transporting cremated human remains. Getting from point A to point B may require a lot of decisions and will be best achieved by planning well in advance. A variety of documents (death certificate, certificate of cremation, various authorization forms, etc.) will be required, and you may need to involve a licensed funeral director in sending and/or receiving the cremated remains.
The following is intended only as an overview of the process...a place to get you started...and not as a comprehensive documentation of all requirements.
Shipping by U.S. Postal Service...
Effective December 26, 2013, the Postal Service revised Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) 601.12 to require mailers to use only Priority Mail Express service when shipping cremated remains. The Postal Service will no longer authorize cremated remains to be sent using Registered Mail service. Although these revisions will not be published in the DMM until January 26, 2014, these standards are effective immediately.
During this transition time, CANA advises that you review your policies and procedures on shipping cremated remains domestically and internationally. You may need to adjust your procedures regarding tracking packages and obtaining a copy of the return receipt. Remember that it is also advisable to communicate these changes in your policies and the USPS procedures to the families you serve. Another important consideration is to require a signature for delivery.
CANA is monitoring this situation and will share further information as it becomes available. Please firstname.lastname@example.org. with your thoughts and experiences with the new standards so that we may all benefit from your insight.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) now places a special sticker (at left) on any cremated remains being mailed domestically or internationally. According to the USPS, the label will not be required but it is highly recommended to increase visibility during USPS processing and transportation.
Previously cremated remains were not identifiable in the mail stream. If a package containing cremated remains cannot be located while in the Postal Service's possession, it can be upsetting to families. The Label 139, Cremated Remains, will allow USPS to identify these packages during processing and transportation and ensure they are handled with care.The label will only be applied by a USPS employee when a postal customer indicates the package contains cremated remains.
The Cremated Remains label is available for customers through the Postal Store at usps.com, enabling you to apply it prior to taking it to the post office.
If you have any questions, contact CANA at 312-245-1077 or get in touch with your local post office.
Transporting by Air...
Most airlines will allow you to transport cremated remains, either as air cargo, or as carry-on or checked luggage (traveling with you). Whether shipping as air cargo or as carry-on/checked luggage, consider all of the following steps:
- Check with the airline to determine their exact policies on either shipping or handling as luggage. You can find this information by searching the airline website for "cremated remains". To see two policies, click Southwest or American. NOTE: some airlines will not accept cremated remains in checked luggage, while others may only accept it as checked luggage; some airlines require seven days notice before shipping if handled as air cargo, and in all cases the contents should be identified as cremated human remains.
- Review the Transportation Security Administration requirements -- click here (and use their Can I Bring app to search cremated human remains)-- which require that the container must be scannable (a container returning an opaque image will not be permitted through security ... either for checked luggage or for carry-on luggage).
- Arrive early to ensure adequate time for security clearance.
- Carry the Death certificate, Certificate of Cremation or other appropriate documentation with you (and consider attaching copies to the container), and
- Make sure to check with a licensed funeral director both at your origin of travel and destination to determine if there are local laws to be considered.
There are even more issues involved in bringing cremated remains from...or taking them to...another country. For example, Germany requires that a licensed cemetery receive cremated remains sent to Germany...and that a licensed funeral director be involved in sending them to Germany. In addition to the steps outlined above, you should start by:
- Contacting the Embassy(ies) for the country you are taking cremated remains to or from; identify their specific rules and legal requirements. NOTE: you can often find this information on the website for the country...but it may also require a call.
- Some countries will have additional authorizations that are required. Your contact with the Embassy should be able to provide you with the forms, although you may need to involve a licensed funeral director or even legal counsel in order to complete the information required.
- Allow even more time for the process -- two weeks at a minimum -- as there can be a number of steps involved.
We hope this guide has been useful to you. It can be a frustrating process to try to transport the cremated remains of a loved one, but it is useful to understand that the rules and requirements often have a basis in ensuring proper care for your loved ones remains as well as abiding by local customs and traditions. Be patient, and your patience can be rewarded by a positive experience in getting your loved one to the proper destination.