There are a number of steps your firm should generally follow when arranging transportation for a body (either embalmed or cremated) whether across your state, across the country or even around the world.
Below are a series of Frequently Asked Questions regarding shipping remains.
Questions regarding country-specific requirements are best answered by officials at the receiving country’s embassy. Contact information can be found on the Embassy.org website.
If a country has not specified any shipping requirements, NFDA recommends the following items:
- Death Certificate
- 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
This varies airline to airline. Each airline has its own documentation needed as well as procedures for transporting a body to another country. NFDA recommends you check with the airline to understand their procedures and required documentation. 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.
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.
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 administrative burdens for its members.
If there is no one at your funeral home who can translate your documents, NFDA offers members a discount on translation services through Certified Languages International. NFDA members receive a 15% discount. Translation is available in any language and is done by highly-trained professionals. Free quotes are available.
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). Members 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.
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.
Contact information for consulates and embassies can be found at the websites listed below:
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.
>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