Transporting your loved one’s body after he or she passes away may mean a short ride across the city to a funeral home or it may mean a trip across the world.  Transporting human remains is becoming more commonplace in our global society.  Many individuals want to be buried in their hometown but live elsewhere in the world.  It then becomes a matter of determining how to best get your deceased loved one’s body back home.

Here is a list of some helpful information.

First, you cannot arrange for your loved one’s body to be transported by plane on your own; you are required to obtain the help of a funeral director.  You can also consult with a transport company that specializes in transporting human remains.  Whomever you choose to ship the remains must have a TSA designation of a designated ‘known shipper.’

Your loved one’s body will be carried in the cargo hold of the plane.  The deceased is placed in a specialized container for transport.  When the plane arrives at its destination, a funeral director will look after transporting the container with the remains to the funeral home.

You will need to work with two funeral directors, or a ‘known shipper’ and a funeral director, one on the shipping end and one on the receiving end.

You need to be aware that the process of shipping your loved one’s body can be quite expensive, depending on how you decide to ship the body, the distance travelled and the weight.  Prices can range anywhere from $1,500 to $15,000.  The higher costs are typically for international travel.

If you want to save some money, and are not traveling internationally, you might want to consider having the body driven to the destination.  Funeral homes typically charge for any distances greater than 25 miles.  You can transport the body yourself, but be sure to check into any state regulations before heading out.  Confirm the regulations of each state through which you will be traveling.  Some states require that a body is embalmed or refrigerated before entering the state.

Another alternative to consider is using the train to transport your loved one’s remains.  It is less expensive than flying the body.  However, you need the services of a funeral director at the departure and arrival points.  Be sure to check for any specific regulations of the train line.

Shipping your loved one’s remains internationally is definitely more expensive and involves additional paperwork.  You need to consult a ‘known shipper’ such as a funeral director for assistance.  You also must consult with the consulate or embassy of the country to which you are shipping the body.

If your loved one chooses to be cremated, the shipping is cheaper and less complicated.  While there are still regulations for shipping cremated remains, it is definitely more straightforward.  If you are flying with the remains, you will need an urn approved for shipping.  Human cremated remains can also be shipped using the US Postal Service.

If you are traveling, you can actually buy a travel plan that ensures your body will be shipped home if you pass away.

When you contact a funeral home to make arrangements to ship your loved one’s body, you will need to have the following information available:

  • Your loved one’s name, address, and social security number;
  • The date and time of the death;
  • Where your loved one is currently located;
  • The name of your loved one’s physician and his or her phone number;
  • Your name, address, and telephone number(s); and
  • Your relationship with the deceased.

Remember, if you have any questions, the funeral home director is an excellent resource.  Do not hesitate to ask any questions you may have; an experienced funeral home director will have heard it all before.  He or she is there to help you through this process.