A Guide to Flying With Cremated Ashes and Urns

Losing a loved one and coordinating funeral arrangements and memorial services for them is emotionally demanding enough. Now, add to that having to travel to transport their cremation remains and it adds a whole new level of complexity and difficulty to an already challenging situation. 

If you do need to fly to transport or retrieve cremated remains, you may be wondering what the TSA regulations and rules are regarding flying with cremated ashes. We have put together a guide offering you helpful information you need to know with important tips on how to travel with cremated remains.

1. You may transport cremated ashes in bags or checked bags

You should always check with your airline to review their rules and regulations regarding traveling with cremated ashes. The TSA does allow cremation urns to be checked or taken in your carry on luggage. However, not every airline accepts cremated remains to be taken aboard in checked luggage, so you should always check with your airlines to review their particular rules and regulations regarding travelling with cremated remains. Regardless of regulations, it is not advised to take cremation urns on board in checked luggage, anyway as you run the risk that your luggage may get damaged or lost. And the last thing you want is anything happening to your loved one’s remains. Therefore, it is better to just keep your urn in your carry on bag for peace of mind during your travels. 

2. Prepare documentation for review by TSA Agents

Whatever your airlines’ rules are for flying with cremations remains, make sure your travels are a little smoother and easier by having official documentation ready to show your TSA agents. The TSA advises that you prepare the following documents: 

  • Death certificate and/or certificate of cremation
  • Documents to validate your relationship with the decedent such as a birth certificate, a copy of the obituary, etc. 
  • Document from the funeral home to support your transporting the cremated ashes such as a Certificate of Cremation 

3. Consult a licensed funeral director first

Take advantage of the resources of knowledge you have in the funeral director you used to arrange memorial services for your loved one. If they are not familiar with the rules and regulation of flying or traveling with cremation remains, maybe they can direct you to someone who does have more expertise. Again, as every country will differ in their particular laws governing flying or travelling with cremated ashes, it is also advised to check with the embassy of the country you will be visiting. You may have to complete certain documents or attain specific forms of authorization as part of their legal requirements for flying with cremated remains. 

4. Transport cremated remains in a travel urn 

As you will need to pass through airport security, it is encouraged to temporarily transfer the cremated remains into a travel urn or container. This type of container will enable TSA to more easily and efficiently identify the contents inside as cremated remains, which will help you pass through security screening. A travel urn is a small investment that adheres to TSA regulations that will ultimately help you more easily navigate the security screening process with less of a hassle. 

5. It is required for TSA to determine the contents inside your cremation container, but illegal for them to open it themselves

Keep in mind that the TSA will need to clearly identify the contents inside your cremation container to pass you through security. If they cannot determine what it is inside the container they may resort to secondary measures and ask you to remove the cremated ashes from the travel urn. However, you should know that it is against the law for an airline personnel to open a container holding cremated remains.  

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