Direct Cremate

Can Cremains Be Shipped Internationally?

Do you need to ship cremated remains internationally? Use this quick guide to learn the steps you need to take to ship cremains out of the country.
How to Ship Cremains to Another Country
How to Ship Cremains to Another Country

We live in an increasingly global world, which means more people are traveling abroad and living in other countries. It also means more people are dying in other countries. However, that doesn’t mean their cremated remains are going to stay there. 

If a loved one dies in another country, can you have their cremains shipped back to the U.S.? And if someone from another country dies in America, can their cremains be shipped back to their home country? 

The short answer is yes, but as with many things in death care there are caveats that could come into play. You also have to follow the proper shipping procedures if you want the cremated remains to arrive as expected. Below is what you need to know to safely and legally ship cremated remains internationally. 

First, Make Sure Cremains Are Accepted by the Receiving Country

Mailing cremains to another country is slightly different from shipping cremated remains within the U.S. starting with where the cremains can be shipped. Some countries prohibit the mailing of cremated remains while others simply don’t have the Priority Mail Express International services available for receiving and processing packages with human cremains. 

Before packaging up the urn and cremains, check the United States Postal Service (USPS) International Mail Manual (IMM). The manual has an Index of Countries and Localities that lists the mailing conditions for each one. Click on the country where you plan to mail the cremains and the first thing you’ll see is shipping prohibitions. If cremains aren’t accepted “human remains” will be on the Prohibitions list. 

How to Ship Cremated Remains to Another Country

You checked and the country where you want to mail the cremains will accept packages containing human remains. Now what?

Ship Through USPS

If you’ve ever shipped cremains domestically, then you’ll be glad to know the process isn’t that different when you’re shipping internationally. No matter where you ship human cremains, only the USPS can act as the carrier. You also have to use the Priority Mail Express International service if you’re shipping human remains. 

Receiving cremated remains through the mail may require a signature if requested by the sender. The mailing process is very secure, but requiring a signature provides extra assurance.

Use Label 139

Just as with domestic shipments, the Label 139 needs to be included on the package. The USPS offers the labels for free online. There are also two different cremated remains kits you can pick up for free:

Cremated Remains Kit 1 – Includes a box with the Label 139 and Priority Mail Express tape.

Cremated Remains Kit 2 – Includes a box with the Label 139, Priority Mail Express tape, bubble wrap, self-sealing bag and Publication 139 that tells you how to securely pack up the cremains.

Documents That May Need to be Included

Shipping cremated remains requires documentation. The documents verify what is in the package and that the cremation was legally performed. Be prepared to provide:

  • A signed death certificate
  • Cremation permit
  • Cremation certificate
  • Transit documents
  • Letter of non-contagious disease 
  • Statement from the funeral home noting what is in the container
  • Deceased’s passport

Calling the embassy for the country where the cremains are to be sent is the best way to know what documents are necessary. 

Direct Cremate can help families figure out how to get the cremated remains of a loved one where they need to go. Give us a call or text anytime to arrange direct cremation services or ask us about shipping services for cremains.