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Travelling with ashes

Travelling with ashes: it is usually possible to travel with a loved one’s ashes.

Some countries are easier than others. As Brian Parson expert on cremation from the Funeral Services Journal says: ‘it can be problematic, not so much the UK end, but countries like the Philippines treat the cremated remains the same as a body. Even in some European countries such as Italy and Poland it can be problematic, France and Germany can present issues too.

If you choose to carry ashes with you when travelling, then following is what we consider to be the best approach:

You will need:

  • a certified copy of the death certificate, and
  • the cremation certificate.
  • to carry the cremated remains in a non-metallic urn to allow screening.

You should:

  • speak to airline operator in advance – this is the first thing you should do as it will solve most issues.  We have contacted a number of airlines, have a look to see if yours is covered and what they say – Airline Policy
  • expect to take it on as hand luggage.
  • obtain a statement from the crematorium or the funeral home confirming the urn contains only the ashes of the deceased.

Depending on the country it may be necessary to:

  • notify customs.
  •  contact the embassy of the country where the ashes are destined and they should be able to help you with what needs to happen at their end.

Don’t just turn up at the departure gate and aim for the sympathy vote – you could well be turned away.

Unaccompanied cremation ashes can be sent by air freight under certain circumstances. We can help deal with for you, see our page on Transporting cremated remains


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14 thoughts on “Travelling with ashes

  1. Reply
    Aimie Geraghty - 2nd January 2019


    I am planning to take some of my Dads ashes with me to NYC to scatter them, I have read your advice above but I don’t have the following information (death certificate my dad was killed in an accident and confirmation from the funeral directors as I am currently in a legal dispute with them) what other information can I take?
    Thank you,

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 4th January 2019

      Dear Aimie
      It may be possible if you have the cremation certificate, it should be fine but obviously I can’t offer any guarantees. I suggest you contact the airline you are travelling with.
      I hope this of use.
      Kind regards

  2. Reply
    Tanya - 2nd January 2019

    Hi I would like to take my dads ashes to Cyprus would this be a problem

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 4th January 2019

      Hi Tanya
      That should not be a problem if the above advice is followed.

  3. Reply
    bill smith - 28th November 2018

    hi I am returning to Soth africa tomorrow
    can I take my brothers sealed ashes with me

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 28th November 2018

      That should be no problem if you follow the advice above. I would urge you to contact the airline to see if they have specific requirements.

  4. Reply
    Fran clegg - 26th October 2018

    I want to take my father’s ashes to France via ferry.
    What are rulings on this form of transport.

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 29th October 2018

      It present no problems at all take a copy of the cremation / death certificate in case of questions from customs.
      Hope this helps

  5. Reply
    JT - 23rd October 2018

    Hi – I am wondering about bringing ashes into England from Canada to be scattered on a private cemetery of land I once owned. I was given permission to scatter them. I am unclear of how to bring the into the country by air, I have not yet booked my flight but what regulations do I need to follow to bring them into the UK? The ashes are of my father a UK citizen. Any help would be greatly appreciated, have had issues finding a clear answer. Thank you.

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 24th October 2018

      It should be fairly straightforward. It is legal to bring the ashes into the UK and scatter them if you have permission from the the land owner. As for the travelling with them please read the above guidance it should contain all the information you need.
      Kind regards

  6. Reply
    Colette Macko - 17th October 2018

    I only want to take a small amount of my mums ashes to Bali, to have them put I to jewellery, I’m having made. Taking a small bag of power is going going to go down well? Any advice? I have certificates of death and cremation and will contact airline first but not sure as I’m only taking a small amount? Or want to, if possible

    1. Reply
      Ammon Enterprises Ltd - 18th October 2018

      Dear Colette
      Even to take a small amount of ashes with you, you will still need to follow the steps above. You will also require the ashes to be placed into a scannable container – we do offer a keepsake size in most scatter tube designs which would be suitable for in-cabin air travel.
      We would never recommend taking ashes with you without informing the airline.
      Best wishes

  7. Reply
    Liz - 29th September 2018

    Is it possible to take ashes to Spain to scatter ashes in the sea?

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 3rd October 2018

      Dear Liz

      Many people do this and it wont have any environmental impact. Regrettably, I have not been able to get a uniform position from the spanish authorities, so I can’t give a categorical answer, Sorry.

      Kind regards

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