Trains, Planes and Automobiles – Transporting Human Remains

By M. Kotch

Filing paperwork, making phone calls, sending notices—the logistics of planning a funeral involve official and often mundane tasks. Mourners have to balance these responsibilities with the overwhelming emotional toll planning a funeral takes. The added stress of dealing with the transport of a loved one’s remains from one place to another can make the planning process seem daunting. Fortunately, various companies are experts when it comes to this type of service.

When transporting a loved one’s remains to the final resting place, a local funeral director can provide much needed help in procuring the death certificate, preparing the remains for transportation (either through cremation, embalming or placing in an appropriate container for travel) and other services. However, it is not illegal for family members to forego a funeral home and deal with transporting the remains themselves. Start by contacting the state mortuary, finalizing the death certificate then deciding on how to transport the remains.

1. By Airplane
-Various airlines offer specific phone numbers to plan travel arrangements for transporting a loved one’s remains and have experience in dealing with funeral directors.
- All remains must be accompanied with an official death certificate and any other legal documents required in a specific state or country.
- Remains can be transported in a container, or in a casket. You’re not obliged to buy a casket for transportation.
- Airlines require the casket to be at the airport three hours before departure for international travel, and two hours prior to most continental flights.
- Typically, caskets can be picked two hours after a flight’s arrival.
- The cost of transporting human remains in a casket varies depending on how far it’s traveling. Prices range from $65 for a small casket to over $1000 for a flight from Puerto Rico to Alaska, for example. International rates range depending on country of origin and final destination.
- Some airlines allow cremated remains with checked baggage while others don’t; be sure to check with your specific airline before arriving for your flight with a loved one’s cremated remains.
- To pass through security, all cremated remains must be placed in an urn or container that allows the X-ray screening.

2. By Train
-Just as with transporting the remains by plane, contact the rail company and specify what you’re transporting.
-Most rail companies deal with this separately and require additional assistance in loading and unloading a casket.
- Rail companies may not offer transportation at all stations, so check with your local company about acceptable origin and final destination stations.
- The cost of shipment depends on the distance that’s to be traveled, as well as weight and size of casket.

3. By Car
-If dealing with a funeral director, he or she can arrange for remains to be forwarded to another funeral home or final resting place through driving services that specifically deal with this type of transportation.
- Most driving companies that transport human remains directly work with funeral homes only.
- It is legal for family members to transport the remains themselves across most states as long as all paperwork has been filed and death certificate has been obtained.

Transporting Human Remains


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