How to Travel by Air with Your Loved One’s Ashes


After your loved one has been cremated, you may need to travel with their ashes by plane if you live in a different state or country, or if your loved one has requested to have their ashes scattered at a specific location. When traveling by air, you must adhere to the guidelines enforced by your airport and airline regarding the transport of cremains to ensure that you have a seamless traveling experience.


Traveling by air in the United States

Most domestic airlines are understanding when it comes to traveling with cremains, but certain rules will vary from airline to airline. For example, some airlines will require you to register cremains as baggage, whereas others may allow you to bring cremains as a carry-on item.

Here are some tips you can follow when making traveling arrangements with domestic airlines in the United States:

  • Before booking tickets with an airline, make sure you contact the airline directly to learn more about their rules and regulations regarding the transportation of cremains.
  • Make sure that you notify the airline of your plans to travel with cremains in advance. Some airlines may require at least a 7-day advanced notice.
  • Consult with licensed funeral directors in your current area and at your destination to determine whether you must follow any specific local regulations regarding the transport of cremains.
  • Review up-to-date Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requirements to find out which containers are acceptable for transporting cremains by air. Some containers are considered unscannable, and may not be cleared by the TSA.
  • Bring all formal documentation associated with the cremains with you to the airport, including the Death Certificate, Certificate of Cremation, etc.


Traveling by air internationally

Before traveling internationally to another country, you must contact the U.S. Embassy at your destination to learn more about the rules and regulations regarding traveling with cremains. For example, some countries, such as Germany, only allow licensed funeral directors to handle cremains. Therefore, you’ll be required to have a licensed funeral director in the United States send the cremains to a licensed cemetery or funeral director in Germany.

Here are some tips you can follow when preparing to travel with cremains internationally:

  • Contact the U.S. embassy at your destination directly to learn more about the policies for traveling with cremains. In most cases, direct contact is more reliable than websites since policies change on a regular basis.
  • Ask the embassy if you will be required to fill out any specific authorization forms regarding the transport of cremains. If forms are involved, request to have the forms sent to you, or download them from the Internet.
  • Prepare for international travel at least two weeks prior to your travel date. In some cases, international countries may need extra time to process and authorize your paperwork.


Whether you’re traveling by air domestically or internationally, it’s important to make sure that you’ve met all the laws and requirements so that you and the cremains of your loved one are able to travel and arrive at your destination safely.

Heartland Cremation has four generations of experience in cremation and  funeral care, and serves the greater Kansas City region, including Columbia, Boonville, Macon, and Jefferson City, Missouri. Please contact us today to learn more about the cremation services we can provide for your loved one.

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