The Best (And Only) Way To Ship Cremated Remains

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If you want them to arrive in a specific location at a specific time, scattering them to the winds won’t be the most efficient method.

It’s so common for commercial airline flights to transport dead bodies that they even have a codename for them -- over radio communication, pilots and ground crew use the term “HR,” which in this case stands for Human Remains (and not Human Resources). But what do you do if the deceased has been cremated and you’re not exactly comfortable shoving an urn into the overhead bin? You can’t mail someone’s ashes, can you?

Well, yes, you can.

It’s not as simple as covering an urn in bubble wrap and tossing it into a FedEx box, however. The United States Postal Service is the only service that can legally ship cremated remains, and they have a long, detailed list of protocols that must be adhered to before the ashes can be sent. Here are the key facts:

  • You must store the remains in a tightly-sealed and sturdy container, ideally one chosen in consultation with a licensed funeral director.
  • Just in case, you are advised to place the container in a sealable plastic bag to prevent spillage.
  • The USPS also suggests lining a box (or external container) with bubble wrap or inflatable packaging material to ensure the container does not move in transit.
  • If you are hoping to ship internationally, you have to first check with the destination country to ensure that they will allow cremated remains to enter the country. Most countries allow it, but some do not.

The final bit of advice has to do with properly identifying and labeling your package because, well, it’s still the USPS and accidents can still happen. It’s one thing if they lose your Zappos returns...quite another when it’s Nana.

Related: How To Travel With Cremated Remains

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