Traveling with Cremated Remains


Cremation Association of North America                                        


We understand it can be a frustrating process to transport the cremated remains of a loved one. It is useful to realize that the rules and requirements often have a basis in ensuring proper care for your loved one's remains.


Traveling with Cremated Remains

Following the Rules...

There are a number of issues involved in transporting cremated human remains. Advance planning is key. A variety of documents (death certificate, certificate of cremation, various authorization forms, etc.) may be required, and you may need to involve a licensed funeral director in the process.

Transporting by Air...

Most airlines will allow you to transport cremated remains, either as air cargo or as carry-on or as checked luggage.

  1. Check with the airline to determine its particular policies. (Search the airline's website for "cremated remains.") Some airlines will not accept cremated remains in checked luggage, while others may only accept it as checked luggage. Some airlines require seven-days’ notice before shipping. In all cases, the contents should be identified as cremated human remains.
  2. Review the Transportation Security Administration requirements (see below), which specify that the container must be scannable (less dense like wood or plastic), whether for checked luggage or as carry-on.
  3. Arrive early to ensure adequate time for security clearance.
  4. Carry the death certificate, certificate of cremation, or other appropriate documentation with you (and also consider attaching copies to the container).
  5. Make sure to check with a licensed funeral director at your origin of travel and your destination to determine if there are local laws to be considered.

Transporting Internationally...

There are additional issues involved in transporting cremated remains to or from another country.

  1. Contact the Embassy(ies) for the country you are taking cremated remains to or from to identify specific rules and legal requirements. (You may find this information on the country's website, but it might require a phone call or email query.)
  2. Some countries will require additional authorizations. The embassy should be able to provide you with forms, but you may need a licensed funeral director or legal counsel to complete the required information.
  3. Allow two weeks at a minimum for the process as there can be a number of steps involved.

The information above is intended only as an overview of the process, and not as a comprehensive documentation of all requirements.


Excerpt from the Transportation Administration Website

We understand how painful losing a loved one is and we treat cremated remains with respect. Some airlines do not allow cremated remains as checked baggage, so please check with your airline to learn more about possible restrictions.  

Under no circumstances will a Transportation Security Officer open a crematory cremation container. To facilitate screening, we suggest that you purchase a temporary or permanent crematory container made of a scannable material. If the container is made of a material that generates an opaque image, the Transportation Security Officer will not be able to clearly determine what is inside the container, and will not be permitted.

Even if an item is generally permitted, it may be subject to additional screening or not allowed through the checkpoint if it triggers an alarm during the screening process, appears to have been tampered with, or poses other security concerns. The final decision rests with Transportation Safety Administration on whether to allow any items on the plane.