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After a cremation, you might choose to keep the ashes or scatter them in a meaningful location. This could be a family garden, a favourite park or even a football stadium. But what if that special place is in another country? Can you take ashes abroad? 

Although scattering ashes in the UK is often the easiest option, taking ashes abroad is possible. Whether you’d like to take ashes on a plane to scatter in another country, or post them overseas, it’s important to have all the information you need to help the process go as smoothly as possible. 


Do you need permission to scatter ashes abroad? 

Each country has its own guidelines on transporting and spreading ashes. Some are very strict, so be sure to do your research. You may find that scattering ashes is allowed in some locations within a country, but not others. It’s always best to get in touch with local authorities before planning your trip. This will make sure you have the right information and can request permission if needed.  

How to take ashes abroad 

Documents you’ll need 

To travel with ashes, you’ll need: 

  • Death certificate 
  • Certificate of cremation 

It’s also wise to carry proof of your relationship with the person who has died, plus a letter from your funeral director or the crematorium. This letter should explain that the urn contains human remains. 


Choosing the right container 

Different modes of transport will require different types of containers to hold ashes. Key focuses tend to be making sure the ashes can pass security checks and making sure that they’re packaged safely and securely. Keep in mind that you might be searched at customs – especially if you’ve protected the ashes using multiple containers. 

Here are a few tips to help you keep the ashes safe and avoid security issues: 

  • Make sure the container is secure and tightly sealed. 
  • Make sure the container can be X-rayed – some ceramic or stone urns can’t. 
  • Consider layering a few containers using bubble wrap for added safety. 
  • Label the container(s) clearly with your name, address and contact details. 


Can you take ashes on a plane? 

If you’re planning on taking ashes on a plane, you should contact the airline you plan to travel with and ask about their rules. 

In most cases, the airline will advise: 

  • Arrive early at the airport to avoid delays at airport security 
  • You can take the ashes on the plane as hand luggage 
  • You may have to declare the ashes at customs (with appropriate paperwork) 

You should also contact your destination’s British consulate, embassy or high commission. It’s important to ask about their rules and requirements, as all countries will vary. 


Can you take ashes on a cruise ship or ferry? 

More people are becoming interested in throwing ashes off a cruise ship or ferry into the sea. Some cruises and ferries have specific areas of the boat dedicated to scattering ashes, offering privacy and somewhere to reflect.  

Different cruise and ferry lines have different rules, so it’s important to check these before booking or boarding the ship. You may find that your chosen cruise requires ashes to be in an urn made from specific materials, which will mean ordering the right type of urn in advance. You may also need to throw the whole urn into the sea, rather than scattering ashes from the urn. 


How much does it cost to take ashes abroad? 

The total cost of taking ashes abroad will depend on what kind of trip you’re taking. Factors such as distance, how long you decide to stay and whether you decide to do any other activities at the destination can all impact the total cost of scattering ashes overseas. 

It’s good to know that most travel providers don’t charge an extra fee specifically for travelling with ashes. Though if you’re taking ashes abroad in your hand luggage, you might need to pay extra for more weight or space – it will depend on the luggage limits set by the service you’re travelling with. Keep in mind that rules and charges are different for each mode of transport, so it’s always worth checking about extra costs before you book.


Can you post ashes overseas? 

There are several reasons you might want to post ashes overseas. You might want to send them to a loved one who lives in another country. Or you might want to post them to be made into some sort of memorial, like memorial jewellery. Unfortunately, you can’t post ashes abroad like a normal package. To make sure the ashes reach their destination safely, use a courier that specialises in transporting human remains. Learn more about specialist repatriation courier services

More info on what to do with ashes 

If you’re considering taking ashes abroad, it’s a good idea to speak to your chosen funeral director about your options. They’ll be able to make recommendations and guide you through the process.


Photo by Rendy Novantino on Unsplash.