According to the CANA (Cremation Association of North America) website, the following are the rules for transporting cremated remains.
Use of the term CREMATED REMAINS here refers to both human and pet cremated remains. Considerations listed also apply to either the entire collected remains or smaller, divided portions thereof.
There are a number of issues involved in transporting cremated human remains that require advance planning and informed decisions. You may need a variety of documents (death certificate, certificate of cremation, various authorization forms, etc.) and the assistance of a licensed funeral director to send and/or receive the cremated remains.
The following is intended only as an overview of the process and not as a comprehensive documentation of all requirements.
Effective December 26, 2013, the Postal Service revised its 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. The revision to the manual reads as follows:
12.9.3 Cremated Remains
Mail pieces sent to domestic addresses must be sent using Priority Mail Express service.
Label 139 (indicating CREMATED REMAINS) is not required but it is highly recommended to increase visibility during USPS processing and transportation. Previously, cremated remains were not identifiable in the mail stream. Label 139 will allow USPS to identify these packages during processing and transportation and ensure they are handled with care. The label is available through the USPS store here.
A benefit of the new Priority Mail Express service requirement is the assurance that the package is tracked online via the USPS website.
To read or download the USPS pamphlet on shipping cremated remains, click here.
If you have any questions, get in touch with your local post office or contact CANA at 312-245-1077.
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:
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:
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.