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Transporting Ashes

With cremation being so popular, there’s an increasing need for people to transport cremated ashes from one point to another. There are several reasons why you might need to transport ashes; from sending them to another family member, scattering them at a meaningful location, or to repatriate a loved one’s remains back home after a cremation abroad. There are a number of issues involved in transporting ashes, but with some planning you can ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible. Although some carriers are unwilling to handle such priceless belongings, there are many who will ensure the safe arrival of your loved one’s remains to your destination of choice. There are a few options for transporting ashes: air travel, mail or even driving over borders. We also offer a transport service for you, for peace of mind and ease.
To help you avoid any mishaps in your time of grief, we have provided a guide on how you can transport cremated ashes both domestically (within the UK) and internationally.

Air Travel

As a general rule, you can transport ashes by air as cargo or travel with them on the plane as carry-on or checked-in baggage. These modes of air transport are permitted only if certain guidelines are adhered to.

The Urn

The container holding the ashes must be made of scannable material to provide a clear view of the contents during security checks. Some of the recommended materials include wood, plastic, and biodegradable material. Avoid stone, metal, or granite containers. The container/urn will not be allowed through the checkpoint if its contents cannot be viewed clearly. And out of respect for the deceased, airport security officers will not (they are legally not allowed to) open the urn even if you ask them to.

We advise you to check your in flight hand luggage allowance. Most cabin luggage must not exceed 55 cm x 35 cm x 25 cm / 21 in x 13 in x 9 in. You should always ensure the urn is tightly sealed to avoid potential spillages.

E airline has its own policies when it comes to transporting cremated ashes. Some airlines do require advance notice to accept ashes, others require special labelling of the urn and documentation such as the death and cremation certificates may be required. Be sure to find out such information from the airline direct.

Depending on where you are travelling to (domestically or internationally) you may need to get export paperwork from your consulate/embassy.
Flying ashes internationally can prove trickier since each destination country has its own set of rules and regulations about receiving cremated remains, which you must adhere to.

As a general rule, you should have at the least the following documentation:

  • The Official Death Certificate
  • Cremation Certificate
  • A letter from the crematorium/funeral home stating that the special container/urn contains only the cremated remains of the deceased

For a more detailed guide, please read our Taking Ashes Abroad article

Sending Ashes Internationally

If you are shipping ashes abroad, the process may be further complicated by unfamiliar international rules and regulations. For instance, some countries don’t allow posting of human remains, others allow a specific carrier, while others require you to send ashes to specific institutions. For that reason, be sure to contact your destination country’s Consulate/Embassy to see if there’re any additional requirements with regard to shipping cremated ashes. For more information, check with the International Destination Listing about prohibited and restricted items within your destination country.
If you are planning to travel with the ashes, read our guide on taking ashes abroad with you.

Costs

The cost of transporting ashes internationally will depend on the country you need to send to. Below is an estimated guide, please note for an accurate price, please contact us.

  • Delivering ashes within the EU – £295 (country depending)
  • Transporting ashes to the rest of the world start from £700 and can only be delivered to the airport, where alternative arrangements can be made for you.

Delivery from an international country back to the UK can also be arranged for you. Extra charges may apply due to the added liaising with a funeral director in a foreign country. Please read our Repatriation of ashes guide for more information.

  • Repatriation of ashes from Europe – £400
  • Repatriation of ashes from rest of the world starts at £800

Please note this service is provided by a third party, we simply connect you with our trusted partner. If you have any more questions, please feel free to contact us.

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Sending Ashes by post – Inside the UK

We are happy to be able to provide a service for sending ashes within the UK. Our estimated costs are below, please do contact us for an accurate price and to arrange the collection.

Cost

Mainland England and Wales collection and Delivery – £120
Scotland, Northern Ireland and islands – £180

Courier Services

Moat courier services forbid the sending of ashes. There are a few general guidelines that apply across all carriers with regard to the nature of urn and the way one must ship ashes if you opt for this route:

  • The urn/container holding the ashes should be sealed tightly to avoid spillage
  • It should be carefully padded and placed inside a suitable box
  • It’s best to place the inner urn inside a sealed plastic bag for extra protection
  • The package should always include your name, contact information, not forgetting complete and correct destination and return addresses.
  • Always transport cremated ashes using a track-able parcel service
  • Ensure the ashes are accompanied by the relevant paperwork such as the cremation certificate.

Royal Mail

Royal Mail can ship cremated ashes within the UK as well as internationally, but under certain restrictions and guidelines. First, the package must not exceed 50g. This means that you cannot send the whole amount of cremated ashes, only a token. This offers an efficient and cost-effective way to send a token of the ashes to another family member. As for packaging and urn requirements, the general guidelines discussed earlier apply here as well.
The best way to ensure your loved one’s ashes get to your intended destination safely is to use the Royal Mail tracked service. You will be able to track the package yourself via the courier’s website by tracking its movements on your computer. This will give you the ultimate piece of mind.
Depending on the distance, Royal Mail can guarantee same day parcel delivery across the UK.
We would avoid using Royal Mail for international delivery as there are better options available.

United Parcel Service (UPS)

Cremated ashes are classified as prohibited items by UPS, which means yu cannot send them via UPS. Families have been known to package them up and use the service without stating the contents of the packages, but this is a dangerous thing to do.
Although a better service than Royal Mail, we still wouldn’t recommend sending ashes via UPS due to the small chance your parcel could go missing.

TNT

Human remains are classified as restricted items under TNT Express services. TNT will not accept carriage of or any liability against loss or damage of your package.

Using TNT’s express service will get your package delivered the next day within the UK or within 3 days internationally.

Conclusion

Transporting a loved one’s ashes can be a frustrating process, but if you take the time to understand the rules and regulations of your carrier, your destination country, as well as local policies and customs, you’ll ensure proper care and safe arrival of a loved one’s remains. Hopefully, this guide has been useful. One very important thing to keep during all this is patience. It will ensure a positive experience in getting your loved one’s ashes to the proper resting place.

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