Many individuals make specific requests regarding where they’d like to have their ashes be scattered or distributed.  Alternatively, close family members may decide where to scatter the ashes.  The location may be within the community, within the district, within the state, within the country, or in another country altogether.  The funeral director typically handles the shipment of human remains for burial in another country but it is usually a close family member who takes on the task of transporting the ashes for scattering in a different country.

International Shipping Policies

Transporting human ashes internationally by plane, as air cargo, in checked baggage, or as a carry-on item, is more involved than transporting the ashes domestically. This is due to the fact that each country has their own set of rules and regulations regarding transporting ashes into their country that you need to abide by.  In addition, the United States has its own set of rules for transporting ashes out of the country, which you also need to abide by.  Consequently, the planning process will take longer, possibly weeks rather than days.

Be sure to check with the airline that you are flying to determine what their regulations are regarding transporting human ashes.  Some airlines need seven days notice as well as certain documentation. They will require the death certificate and cremation permit.  It is also useful to get an Affidavit of Non-Contraband from the funeral home or cremation provider written on their letterhead.  Many major airlines will carry ashes as cargo, in baggage, or carried on board, but it is important to confirm this in order to avoid any possible delays.  If the information is not available on the airline’s website then you need contact them by phone or email in order to determine what exactly their guidelines are regarding transporting human ashes.

Contact the embassy of the country to which the ashes are travelling by email or phone. Each country has their own set of regulations regarding receiving cremated remains and additional import documentation that needs to be filled out.  Working with the funeral home, cremation provider, or another company that specializes in shipping human ashes internationally helps minimize any delays and reduces any possible frustration from dealing with the rules and guidelines of both the United States and the foreign country.  These individuals are able to provide guidance and help in this area in order to make the process as easy and smooth as possible.

What Type of Container can be used for Transporting Ashes?

Security and safety for all travellers is the responsibility of the Transportation Security Administration.  According to the TSA’s guidelines, all human remains must be transported in containers that are security friendly and made with lightweight materials like wood or plastic.  This means that you need to make sure that the temporary container or cremation urn holding the ashes is able to go through the x-ray machine.  Many manufacturers of cremation urns now indicate if their products are TSA friendly.  If you are not sure, contact the funeral home or manufacturer from which you bought the urn.  If required, the funeral home can transfer the ashes into a security-friendly temporary cremation container for the trip.  Some funeral homes provide this service at no cost while others may charge a fee.  Check with your funeral home to determine what their policy is.

Transportation Security Administration personnel are not allowed to open up an urn to check its contents, so if the urn will not go through the x-ray machine, you won’t be permitted to bring it on the airplane.  This rule is in place out of respect for the deceased.


We offer our condolences on the loss of your loved one, and wish you safe travels in transporting your loved one’s ashes out of the country.