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Transporting a Body Across State Lines: How Do I Do It?

transporting a body across state lines

The loss of a loved one comes with an array of emotions and responsibilities. Aside from facing your own emotions and helping to support those around you, the role of finding a final resting place for the recently deceased can feel like another burden altogether.

When finding a final and special place for your loved one, you might recognize transporting their remains over state lines is necessary. That’s common. Many families are scattered throughout the country. According to the Pew Research Center, about 40% of American families have lived in two or more states throughout their life. These families often find themselves either having to send their loved one’s remains back to a hometown, to a specific resting ground or bring the burial closer to a new home.

Initially, transporting the remains of a loved one over state lines may seem like a daunting task — especially with an influx of emotions and legal steps required for you to follow. But learning more about the transportation process will only help to make your loved one’s final passage as easy as possible.

What do I do first?

The first thing to do is contact the funeral home at your selected destination. The funeral home in your destination state will contact your local funeral home and coordinate to prepare your loved one for transport. In most cases, your local funeral home is required to embalm your loved one for burial before transport within 48 hours following a death. The destination funeral home will complete funeral preparations. Depending on the distance between both funeral homes, the body will likely be transported by vehicle or plane to the final destination.

Next, obtain a burial transit permit. This is a record of the deceased’s cause of death, their personal information, your contact information, and the release documentation needed to transport your loved one’s remains. Laws from each state may vary, so researching your home state’s burial and transport requirements is recommended. You can find some state’s funeral laws by visiting the this link.

Can I transport by car? By air? 

Funeral homes may be able to transport your loved one’s remains a short distance by vehicle. Ask the funeral home you plan on working with if this is a service they provide, and if so, the mileage rate for your travel distance.

For greater distances that require transport by air, working with a funeral home that is a “known shipper” is suggested. This means these funeral homes adhere to the TSA’s guidelines for shipping human remains. Airlines like American Airlines, Southwest and more usually only provide transport services for known shippers.

Can I transport the body myself?

If you want to transport your loved one’s remains yourself, there are still rules and regulations you must follow. In order to transport the body in your own vehicle, it must be properly sealed in the right kind of shipping container. Additionally, depending on each state, embalming the body may be required upon leaving or entering another state.

How much does it cost?

Distance, the shipping method you choose, and weight of the shipping container usually affect the costs associated with transporting human remains. You will likely have to pay for shipping and receiving services at both funeral homes, which typically add up to around $5,000.

Can I transport ashes?

If the costs of shipping your loved one’s remains after embalming are too costly, you may want to consider cremating their remains. You can carry a loved one’s ashes where ever you need to go via vehicle, or travel by air with them after following the TSA’s and your selected airline guidelines.

As you decide which transport option is best for your passed loved one, remember Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care is always here to help you and your family. If you find yourself in need of some extra support, please feel free to reach out to us by visiting our website or calling us at 1-888-564-3405.


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