Can you take human ashes abroad?

person sits alone in an airport departure lounge. They are looking out of the window at an aeroplane

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? Although scattering ashes in the UK is often the easiest option, taking human ashes overseas is possible. If you’d like to do this, there are a few things you need to be aware of before you travel.

Do you need permission to scatter ashes overseas?

Each country has its own guidelines on transporting and spreading ashes. Some are very strict, so be sure to do your research. The advice will vary depending on where you’re going and how you’re travelling. This guide assumes you’ll be carrying human ashes on a plane.

How to transport ashes to another country

Documents you’ll need

To travel with ashes, you’ll need the death certificate and the 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.

Taking ashes on a plane

Once you have the relevant paperwork, you should contact the airline you plan to travel with and ask about their rules.

In most cases, the airline will advise:

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.

Choosing the right container

You can take some kinds of urns on a plane, or use another type of non-metal container. Either way, it must be 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:

Sending human ashes abroad by post

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.

 

We hope we answered your questions about taking human ashes abroad. You can find more advice about planning a funeral or a memorial in our advice hub.

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  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

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A Direct Cremation is an alternative to the traditional funeral. This involves the cremation of the deceased without a funeral service. A Direct Cremation is generally the most economic option because costs of the coffin, preparation of the body, funeral service and expensive transportation are not included. However, many people choose Direct Cremations for reasons other than expense, for example:

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  • - Expressed desire from the deceased to not have a ceremony
  • - Individuals with relatives who face big physical or geographical challenges in coming together for a ceremony

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  • A simple coffin and urn for the ashes
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This is Funeral Choice’s best estimate of this Funeral Director’s fees and the crematorium fee for an Unattended Funeral, which is where family and friends may choose to have a ceremony, event or service for the deceased person, but they do not attend the burial or cremation itself. This is also known as a Direct Cremation.

This price includes the following:

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In addition to this fee, there might be additional third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to explain these for you.

If you wish to attend the funeral, you should view the “Attended Funeral” price instead.

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Why is this price Estimated?

We work hard to ensure the Funeral Director Fees we display are accurate and up to date. However, unlike with our partners, we cannot guarantee this price is correct today.

Funeral Director fees

The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
  • Hearse or appropriate vehicle for transport to the funeral
  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

  • Funeral flowers
  • Memorial (venue hire, catering etc)
  • Memorial headstone
  • Orders of service
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