Shipping Cremated Remains

There are times when you may need to mail the cremated remains of a loved one in order to honor their final requests. Shipping human ashes to another location, sometimes even internationally, is possible and can be a fast and affordable way to respect their last wishes. Since immediate family members usually assume possession of their loved one’s cremains, it’s useful to know what the options are for mailing them elsewhere.

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There are several reasons why you might need to send cremains in the mail. Rules and regulations for flying with cremated ashes can be an added stress during this difficult time. Shipping cremated remains via the USPS can be a safe and stress-free way to send the ashes of a loved one to other family members. If your loved one chose a final resting place elsewhere, like the small town where they grew up, shipping their ashes can be a smart way to get them there quickly. Other times, mailing cremated remains is necessary for them to be incorporated into jewelry or works of art.

Can You Ship Cremated Human Remains?

When it is not convenient or possible to deliver your loved one’s ashes by hand, finding an alternative method of transportation may become a challenge you face. Can you send cremated remains in the mail? Yes, you can. Many families choose to ship a small portion or all of their loved one’s ashes to their final resting place when it is not nearby.

Is It Illegal To Send Cremated Ashes In The Mail?

No, it is not illegal to mail a loved one’s cremated ashes to a domestic or international address. As long as you follow the rules and regulations for shipping cremains with an eligible carrier, it is perfectly legal to send cremated ashes in the mail. 

Can You Ship Cremated Remains Internationally?

Yes, however, there may be extra rules and regulations for sending cremated ashes overseas. Some countries, like Belgium, Ireland, Kyrgyzstan, Portugal, and the United Kingdom, do not allow entry of cremated remains. Others may not accommodate Priority Mail Express International service, which is required by the USPS when shipping the ashes of a human or pet. Always check the rules and regulations for each country when sending human ashes abroad.

Which delivery services legally ship cremated remains?

Can you FedEx human remains? Unfortunately not. When it comes to mailing cremated remains, shipping companies like UPS, DHL, and FedEx will not knowingly accept or transport them. The USPS offers the only legal way to ship cremated ashes to a domestic or international address from the United States. 

If you choose USPS, shipping human remains must be sent with a Priority Mail Express postage which includes tracking. To ensure that these irreplaceable and sentimental shipments are safe and visible throughout their journeys, the U.S. Postal Service can provide special supplies and labels. 

How To Package And Ship Cremated Remains

If you choose to mail your loved one’s cremated remains there will be specific requirements for packaging and labeling the shipment. Not only is the USPS the only legal option for mailing cremains domestically or internationally, but choosing Priority Mail Express service is also required. With this service, your package should be delivered within 1 to 2-days. 

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When it comes to packaging your loved one’s ashes, the USPS offers special supplies and services to improve the ease of shipping, visibility of the shipment, and peace of mind when shipping cremated remains internationally or domestically. 

How To Package Ashes For Shipping 

Whether you are sending the cremated remains of a loved one or a pet, the United States Postal Service has specific instructions for preparing a package that contains ashes. These rules and regulations are designed to keep your precious package protected in transit. 

There are 3 essential components when packaging cremated remains for shipment. They include an inner sift-proof container, cushioning material, and an outer shipping package. 

Inner Primary Container 

The ashes must be safe and contained in transit. This is why the innermost container must be sift-proof to prevent any loose power from leaking out. The inner packaging may be decorative or plain, from a simple wooden box to an ornate funeral urn, as long as it is strong, durable, sift-proof, properly sealed, and designed to protect its contents. 

  • Strong 
  • Durable
  • Sift-proof 
  • Seals properly
  • Designed to protect contents

For international shipments, the inner container must be sealed and sift-proof funeral urn. The USPS recommends that you put the sift-proof container in a sealed and labeled plastic bag for added peace of mind. This way, your loved one’s cremated ashes can be identified if the shipping label were to become detached from the outer container. 

Cushioning Material

Once the cremated ashes are sealed in a sift-proof inner container and labeled, you will want to make sure it is protected from any shock or impact in transit. Prevent the inner container from shifting inside the package by wrapping it with bubble wrap, foam peanuts, or an air pillow. It’s important to be sure that there is enough room to secure the top, bottom, and sides for maximum protection. 

  • Bubble wrap
  • Foam peanuts
  • Air pillows

Outer Shipping Package

For both domestic and international shipping, the outer package can be a USPS-produced or customer-supplied as long as it is strong and durable to withstand handling in transport. For convenience, the Postal Service offers a specific Priority Mail Express Cremated Remains Box which can be ordered online as part of a kit and is included in the cost of the service. It’s a good idea to include a slip of paper with the sender’s and recipient’s address and contact information on it for extra peace of mind. 

  • Strong 
  • Durable
  • Shipped via USPS Priority Mail Express 

Labels and Markings

All packages containing cremated remains must be marked with Label 139, Cremated Remains, on the top, bottom, and each side. This 4” by 6” label and other shipping labels are available online at USPS.com or can be obtained at a retail US Post Office location. It is recommended to include the sender’s and recipient’s addresses and contact information on both the inner package and outer package.

New USPS Supplies For Shipping Cremated Remains

The United States Postal Service has introduced three shipping supply options, including Label 139, Cremated Remains, which is mandatory for customer-supplied packaging. Label 139 should always be included with packages containing human ashes since it has bright orange marking and a bar code that can be used for tracking. 

The other 2 new options from the USPS are kits. These two kits include extra supplies to accompany each Cremated Remains Box, and can only be ordered through the Postal Store on USPS.com. 

USPS Cremated Remains Kit 1 

  • USPS Cremated Remains Box 
  • A small roll of Priority Mail Express tape

USPS Cremated Remains Kit 2

  • USPS Cremated Remains Box 
  • A small roll of Priority Mail Express tape
  • Self-sealing plastic bag
  • Roll of bubble cushioning 
  • How to Package and Ship Cremated Remains Guide (USPS Publication 139). If you do not know how to ship ashes, this document can be another helpful resource. 

How Much Does It Cost To Ship Cremated Remains?

Because cremated remains must be shipped with the USPS via Priority Mail Express, options for pricing are very limited. Parcels containing cremated remains may typically cost around $25 to $30 for a domestic address, depending on the weight of the package. A benefit to this service is that it is quick and usually arrives within 2-days. 

How Much Does It Cost To Ship Cremated Remains Internationally?

Some counties do not support Priority Mail Express International, which is required for all packages containing human ashes that are sent abroad. This service can cost closer to $50 or $80 and as much as $130. However, packaging supplies and tracking capabilities can be included at no extra cost. 

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