NFDA Home > Additional Tools > Frequently Asked Shipping Questions
Join our Linked In Group! Follow NFDA on Twitter! Find us on Facebook! Connect with NFDA on Google+ View NFDA's YouTube Channel! View NFDA's Flickr Photostream!

Frequently Asked Shipping Questions

  1. What documents are needed to send to another country?           
  2. What documents and procedures are needed to ship a body on an airline?
  3. What is the Known Shipper Program?
  4. Must I be a Known Shipper with each airline?
  5. What is needed to ship cremated remains?
  6. May I ship created remains through the mail?
  7. What do I do if I need documents translated?
  8. I need to speak to a funeral home in the destination country and they do not speak English, what should I do?
  9. What do I do if the body exceeds the airline weight limit?
  10. Is there a place to locate a countries embassy/consulate?
  11. I can not get in touch with the consulate, what should I do?
  12. What is an apostille?

1) What documents are needed to send to another country?

This varies country by country. Each country has its own guidelines on what documents must be presented along with the body. NFDA has compiled a comprehensive list of the documentation needed for each country.

NFDA recommends that you contact the included Consulate/Embassy to verify that nothing has changed from their requested documentation, as countries will occasionally change their requirements. If you find that a country's requirements are different from what is listed on NFDA's website, we ask that you inform NFDA of the changes (contact Corey Eggers at ceggers@nfda.org or 800-228-6332 or +1-262-789-1880).

If a country has not specified any shipping requirements, NFDA recommends the following items:

  • Death Certificate
  • Burial/Transit
  • Permit Letter of Non-contagious Disease
  • Embalmers Affidavit
  • Passport of Deceased (if obtainable)
  • Letter on funeral home letterhead stating: that only human remains are inside the casket; the flight itinerary; consignee's name, address, and telephone number

Back To Top

2) What documents and procedures are needed to ship a body on an airline?

This varies airline to airline. Each airline has its own documentation needed as well as procedures for transporting a body to another country. NFDA has compiled a list of the major airlines around the world and their requirements. A reminder that in order to ship with each airline you must be a known shipper with them or they will not accept the body.

Back To Top

3) What is the Known Shipper program

TSA originally developed the "known shipper" policy in 2004 as a way to "impose significant barriers to terrorists seeking to use the air cargo transportation system for malicious purposes." As this policy was being developed five years ago, NFDA Advocacy Division staff met with TSA representatives to discuss the potential security threat presented by the shipment of human remains by air. NFDA staff outlined the typical procedures and chain of custody involved in preparing human remains for air shipment. At that time, TSA agreed that the "known" status of the funeral homes that ship by air, the limited access to the preparation room and the transportation procedures used created a minimal security risk.

Congress and TSA have revised their assessment, however, and have identified the shipment of human remains as a potentially serious security risk requiring stricter security measures.

Back To Top

4) Must I be a known shipper with each airline?

Funeral homes are required to register as a "known shipper" with each airline they use to ship bodies; the application process might include an inspection and payment of an inspection fee. While registering with multiple airlines can create an administrative burden on funeral homes, TSA and the airlines have told NFDA that it must be done.

Each airline has their own procedures for both the application and inspection process and may charge a nominal fee to cover their costs. According to TSA and the airlines, no inspection will be necessary if the applicant is already in the TSA "known shipper" database; however, even if a funeral home is a "known shipper," owners might still be required to submit an application with each airline the firm uses.

Most C corporations are in the TSA database, making the application process relatively simple; other funeral homes that are not C corporations may also be in the TSA database. If a funeral home is not in the TSA database, the airline might be required to conduct an inspection to ensure the legitimacy of the business. NFDA will continue to work with TSA and the airlines to refine the process to reduce the potential compliance costs and administration burdens for its members.

Back To Top

5) What is needed to ship cremated remains?

This once again varies country to country. You can find each country's required documentation on the NFDA website.

If a country has not specified the documentation it requires, NFDA recommends the following:

  • Death Certificate
  • Cremation Certificate
  • Passport of the deceased (if obtainable)
  • Letter on funeral home letterhead stating that the urn/container contains only the cremated remains of the individual

NFDA also recommends that you check with the consulate or embassy of the country to verify whether any additional documentation is required.

Procedures for shipping cremated remains may vary by airline. The NFDA website has a list of the various procedures for each airline. Generally, cremated remains may be hand carried on most airlines so long as the proper documentation is brought and the urn/container is able to be x-rayed at security. The airline should always be contacted first to make certain there are no special documents required.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is the only mail carrier that will accept cremated remains; no other carrier (UPS, Fed-Ex, DHL, etc.) will ship cremated remains. In order to ship cremated remains through the mail, the following conditions must be met:

452.2 Cremated Remains
Human ashes are permitted to be mailed provided they are packaged as required in 453b. The identity of the contents should be marked on the address side. Mailpieces sent to domestic addresses may be sent via Express Mail or Registered Mail service. Mailpieces sent to an international address must be sent via Registered Mail service, and the country listing in the IMM must show that cremated remains are permitted and Registered Mail service must be available for that country.

453 Packaging and Marking
b. Powders. Dry materials that could cause damage, discomfort, destruction, or soiling upon escape (leakage) must be packed in siftproof containers or other containers that are sealed in durable siftproof outer containers.

Back To Top

6) May I ship cremated remains through the mail?

You can send cremated remains through the mail (i.e., United States Postal Service). No other carrier (e.g., UPS, Fed-Ex, DHL, etc.) will accept the cremated remains. Recently some post office branches have not been accepting cremated remains, in spite of USPS policy to accept them. Should you run into this issue, assuming you are following proper procedures, you may show them their policy

452.2 Cremated Remains
Human ashes are permitted to be mailed provided they are packaged as required in 453b. The identity of the contents should be marked on the address side. Mailpieces sent to domestic addresses may be sent via Express Mail or Registered Mail service. Mailpieces sent to an international address must be sent via Registered Mail service, and the country listing in the IMM must show that cremated remains are permitted and Registered Mail service must be available for that country.

453 Packaging and Marking
b. Powders. Dry materials that could cause damage, discomfort, destruction, or soiling upon escape (leakage) must be packed in siftproof containers or other containers that are sealed in durable siftproof outer containers.

Back To Top

7) What do I do if I need documents translated?

If there is no one at your funeral home who can translate your documents, NFDA offers members a discount on translation services through MTM Linguasoft. NFDA members receive a 15% discount. Translation is available in any language and is done by highly-trained professionals. Free quotes are available.

Back To Top

8) I need to speak to a funeral home in the destination country and they do not speak English, what should I do?

If there is no one at your funeral home who is fluent in the language you need, NFDA offers members discounted telephone interpretation services through CLI (Certified Languages International). Member receive a 15% discount on interpretation services, which is available in more than 150 languages. CLI is available 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.

Back To Top

9) What do I do if the body exceeds the airline weight limit?

First, speak with a funeral director at the receiving funeral home to make sure they are able to supply a casket to the family. Next, inform the family that due to airline weight restrictions, you will need to use a bio seal bag to transport the body and that the receiving funeral home will help them select a casket

Back To Top

10) Is there a place to locate a countries embassy/consulate?

The contact information for consulates and embassies, along with shipping requirements, can be found on the NFDA website.

You may also find contact information at the websites listed below:

Back To Top

11) I can not get in touch with the consulate, what should I do?

The offices for many consulates, especially for smaller countries, often have limited hours, making it difficult to reach someone. NFDA recommends that you try calling on multiple days at approximately 12 p.m. If you are not able to reach someone, and the country required a consul inspection, call the country's embassy in Washington, D.C., and ask how you should proceed.

Back To Top

12) What is an apostille?

An apostille is a documentary device by which a government department, usually the State Department, Justice Ministry or Foreign Ministry, authenticates a document as genuine, thereby legalizing it for use in another member country. The following is needed on an apostille:

  • The name of country from which the document emanates
  • The name of person signing the document
  • The capacity in which the person signing the document has acted
  • In the case of unsigned documents, the name of the authority which has affixed the seal or stamp
  • Place of certification
  • Date of certification
  • The authority issuing the certificate
  • The number of certificate
  • Seal or stamp of authority issuing certificate
  • Signature of authority issuing certificate

Back To Top