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Shipping Remains from the United States to a Foreign Country

Following is a list of steps your firms should generally take when arranging transportation for a body (either embalmed or cremated) from the United States to a foreign country. While applicable in most cases, requirements for shipping a body or cremated remains may vary by country. NFDA maintains a list of country-specific requirements on its website; this information will be updated when new information made available to the association.

Questions regarding country-specific requirements are usually best answered by officials at the receiving country's embassy. Contact information can be found on the Embassy.org website. You can also call NFDA at 800-228-6332 for assistance.

To ship a body from the United States to a foreign country:

  1. The family you're serving should provide the name of the funeral home in the receiving country, but always contact that firm personally to verify that it will receive the body and that no other requirements are needed.
  2. Embalm the remains according to U. S. standards.
  3. Include the following:
    1. Communicable Disease Affidavit.
    2. Embalmers Affidavit (on your funeral home's letterhead). This item explains the embalming procedure, provides the name of the embalmer and his or her license number, and verifies that the body was prepared according to international regulations and the caskets contains no foreign contraband.
    3. At least two certified copies of the death certificate.
    4. The Burial/Transfer Permit.
    5. Appropriate authorization forms.(NFDA member log-in required)
  4. Include notarized versions of all original documents (and keep copies for your files).
  5. Ship the passport of the deceased.
  6. List the complete name, address and phone number of the person or funeral home receiving the remains abroad.
  7. Ship the remains in a hermetically sealed casket or Ziegler case.
  8. Factors to verify regarding the outer shipping containers: Some countries will accept Air Trays, others require all-wood boxes and still others require zinc-lined wood boxes. Many countries now also require all outer shipping containers to bear the "No Bug" stamp.
  9. Include paperwork showing the complete flight itinerary of the remains.
  10. Note that some consulates require an inspection, so make sure you allow time for this based on the arrival deadline.
  11. Some countries, including Spain and Mexico, require translation of all documents into their language, so be sure to build in time for this as well. NFDA has resources to assist with the translation of documents; click here or call 800-228-6332.

To ship cremated remains from the United States to a foreign country:

  1. The family you're serving should provide the name of the funeral home in the receiving country, but always contact that firm personally to verify that it will receive the body and that no other requirements are needed.
  2. Pack the urn in a wooden box.
  3. Include the following paperwork:
    1. At least two certified copies of the death certificate.
    2. At least two certified copies of the cremation certificate.
    3. The Non-contraband Affidavit (on your funeral home's letterhead).
  4. List the complete name, address and phone number of the person or funeral home receiving the cremated remains abroad.

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