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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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61 thoughts on “Travelling with ashes

  1. Reply
    Tony Eccles - 15th May 2019

    Hi, I want to take a few of my brothers ashes to Cuba, do I need permission, it will just be a few in as clear sealed bag, I have a death certificate If needed.

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 20th May 2019

      Dear Tony
      I am unaware if Cuba has any certain rules around ashes. I would recommend that you follow the guidance on the page concerning an appropriate container for the ashes and the certification.
      Kind regards
      Richard

  2. Reply
    Graham - 11th May 2019

    Can i scatter mums ashes on her brothers gravesite in hong kong

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 13th May 2019

      It depends on the rules of the individual cemetery, you would need to contact the organisation that runs the cemetery where your uncle’s grave is.

  3. Reply
    Nansi White - 26th April 2019

    Friends in the USA are travelling to the UK this summer and wish to bring a portion of the ashes to scatter in their parent’s home area. Having read your advise re certificates and container is there any other formality that they may encounter.

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 29th April 2019

      No, it should be fairly straightforward. Regards Richard

  4. Reply
    Karen - 24th April 2019

    We want to take our Mum & Dads ashes to Jersey to scatter them, as this is where they got engaged and had their honeymoon, from above I see that to travel on a plane we need the Death Certificates, and Cremation Certificates and that the ashes need to be in Scatter tubes, who would i need to contact in Jersey as to where and if we can scatter the ashes there

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 24th April 2019

      Dear Karen
      I found this on the Jersey’s government website:
      Scattering of ashes
      Ashes may be brought over to Jersey for scattering. No permit or permission is required but out of courtesy the Constable of the Parish should be advised by letter. Ashes may not be scattered within limits of a cemetery, they have to be placed in a wooden casket and buried. The church minister, priest or a funeral director can advise.

      At this time every cremation needs to have the permission of the Medical Officer of Health but this is currently being put before the States.

      Here is the link https://www.cab.org.je/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=355:cremations-cemeteries-graves-84512l6&catid=85&Itemid=104

      I hope this helps
      Regards
      Richard

  5. Reply
    karen - 16th April 2019

    I have my pets ashes sealed inside a heart pendant. is this ok to wear and take on a plane??

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 16th April 2019

      Yes absolutely fine

  6. Reply
    Sonia - 13th April 2019

    We are hoping to take some of our Sons ashes to Mykonos this summer to scatter some of his ashes in the place he loved. How easy would this be to do? Would I need permission to take them on the plane? We are flying EasyJet. Who do I contact about taking them into Mykonos. I don’t want to incur a problem.

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 15th April 2019

      Hi
      You are able travel with cremation and a death certificate. You would need a the right urn. This is what Easyjet say: https://scattering-ashes.co.uk/transporting-ashes/travelling-with-ashes-on-an-easyjet-flight. As for permission scatter that might be more tricker. Most Greece is Orthodox Catholic country and do not generally allow the scattering of ashes, you may choose to do this without asking permission, but obviously we can’t advise that course of action.
      Kind Regards
      Richard

  7. Reply
    Barry - 12th April 2019

    How does my wife transport her Fathers ashes from Poland to South Africa?

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 12th April 2019

      This is the link page to our courier service I am not sure if they are to do this route. https://scattering-ashes.co.uk/services/transporting/
      Regards
      Richard

  8. Reply
    Cat Wiener - 10th April 2019

    We plan to scatter my father’s ashes in Venice, Italy this summer as he wished. We have permission from the Comune di Venezia (the local authority) to do so in one of three nominated places, with a council official present, and all the paper work for transporting the ashes out of the country. However, they are asking for an additional form making it clear that under UK law it is legal to dispose of remains in this way – I think this is a local requirement as we can’t find anything under Italian regulations that requires this – and the Home Office automated response says it will take three weeks to get back to us. No one at the local London council seems to know what we are talking about when we ask for this form/stamp on existing form… I wondered if anyone else had experience of this and could advise.

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 12th April 2019

      Hi Cat
      Please email us directly – info@scttering-ashes.co.uk – think we can help.
      Kind regards
      Richard

  9. Reply
    Sarah - 9th April 2019

    Hi. I have been reading your advice. We are in the midst of organising a trip from UK to France to scatter my parents in law. We have contacted the French consulate to have the ashes sealed by them with death and cremation certificates. We have also made arrangements with the mairie Town Hall. Today the consulate have asked us for our parents passports too. We don’t have these. Have you heard of this extra hurdle?

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 9th April 2019

      Dear Sarah
      No I haven’t, I think I might be missing a piece of information. Are your parents in law French? Are the authorities wanting to check they have a ‘right’ to be scattered in the location desired. If we know what they wanted them for (other than unnecessary bureaucracy) it would be easier to understand if there is a document that could be substituted?
      Kind regards
      Richard

  10. Reply
    Sam - 6th April 2019

    Hi there,

    I am currently in the UK and am wanting to takes my Dad’s ashes to Sicily. EasyJet the airline have advised that carry on baggage with a death certificate and cremation certificate is fine, but I am unclear if this communication from Easyjet means that I would be okay getting the ashes into Catania in my scattertube? Is there any other required documentation for this?

    Thanks

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 9th April 2019

      Their communication relates to carrying ashes on their plane, they don’t advise on the requirements for the country you are visiting. You should be able to pass through customs on the Italian side with what you have, through the green/blue channel.
      Regards
      Richard

  11. Reply
    Kathryn Watson - 4th April 2019

    I am bringing the ashes of my parents from Canada to the UK to scatter into the Sea. I have the appropriate documentation and container to board my flight. Do I need to declare them at customs in the UK? Is there any additional documentation that I need?
    Thank you

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 5th April 2019

      Hi
      No you don’t need to declare them and the death and cremation certificate is perfectly adequate.
      Regards
      Richard

  12. Reply
    Peter Groome - 4th April 2019

    My mother in law has been cremated and wishes for some of her ashes to be scattered in the river in Szczecin in Poland where she was born. I have covered off the airline issues but I am unsure re customs going into Poland and the issue re scattering the ashes. I would be grateful for advice please.

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 5th April 2019

      Hi
      You are able travel with the documentation you have I would not anticipate any issues at Customs and I would not seek to declare them, as for permission scatter that might be more tricker. Most Catholic countries do not allow the scattering of ashes, as I understand it Poland is quite strict, you may choose to do this but obviously we can’t advise that course of action.
      Kind Regards
      Richard

  13. Reply
    Jacqueline - 2nd April 2019

    Hi
    I am hoping to scatter my Mother’s cremation ashes in Mexico, as this is where she lived for a few years, and where I was born.
    However I was wondering what documentation would be needed?
    I have the death certificate and cremation certificate, both in English. Will this be enough?
    I was not sure if I would need the documents translating into Spanish?
    Thank you very much

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 5th April 2019

      Hi
      You are able travel with the documentation you have, as for permission scatter that might be more tricker. Most Catholic countries do not allow the scattering of ashes, you may choose to do this but obviously we can’t advise that course of action.
      Kind Regards
      Richard

  14. Reply
    daya - 28th March 2019

    hello, i am looking to split my mums ashes, some here in the UK and the rest in Belgium, am I able to take open ashes to Belgium??? Currently in a sealed clear bag in a box. thanks for any help and advice.

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 29th March 2019

      Well yes, but not “open” unless you are driving. If you are flying I would suggest that the proportion you are taking with you are placed/sealed in an scannable urn such as a scatter tube.

  15. Reply
    Megan - 27th March 2019

    Can anyone help me please
    We are travelling from the UK to gran canaria one Sunday and our daughter who was cremated we have inside a memory bear. We don’t go anywhere without her and want to take her with us. I have contacted the funeral directors and airlines and they said we will be OK as long as we have the cremation certificate and death certificate and also we have a letter from the funeral directors saying what is inside the bear. We are more worried about when we come home from gran canaria to the UK and if we might face a problem as we don’t speak Spanish and don’t want her took off of us?

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 28th March 2019

      This is very tricky and strictly speaking this would be noncompliant, I understand your plight as an English speaker you could explain to the airline and customs what the bear contains and show documentation and this would be fine. Your concern is that spanish customs would be less sympathetic, this is a possibility although unlikely (although how unlikely is impossible to say as it will depend on the individual officer). If you were committed to take the bear then I would ask the help of the airline staff at the spanish end and as representatives of the airline and bilingual speakers they should help you pass the obstacle. I would say one thing, no matter what the bear is likely to be scanned. Sorry I can’t give you the absolute certainty you are after, I hope everything goes well.
      Kind regards
      Richard

  16. Reply
    Kim - 26th March 2019

    I am bringing my uncle’s ashes home from leeds to ireland , l have death and cremation cert , will this be ok

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 28th March 2019

      Yes that will be fine, make sure they are in a suitable container – please see advice above.
      Regards
      Richard

  17. Reply
    Ian marsh - 16th March 2019

    Hi I am traveling to Canada and want to take just a small amount of my wife’s ashes with me to scatter. About an egg cup amount.
    What do I need to do?

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 18th March 2019

      Dear Ian
      The rules are the same regardless of the quantity, I would take them in an x rayable container that is sealed and take a copy of the cremation certificate.

  18. Reply
    Pauline Prior - 14th March 2019

    Can I bring ashes from Cornwall to Oxford without getting permission from each county council on the way

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 18th March 2019

      Yes that is right – you do not need permission.

  19. Reply
    Joan - 11th February 2019

    Do I need a death certificate to bring my daughters ashes to the UK from the US?? She is an US citizen, but I still do not have a death certificate…. I do have the cremations certificate and a certificate from the funeral home….. I have a ticket to fly on the 11th of this month….. Will customs accept those certificates?????

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 11th February 2019

      I am fairly certain that they will, we have no recorded incidents whether they have not been. And whilst I am not able to say categorically because we are not a statutory authority I would think you should have no problems whatsoever.

      Kind regards
      Richard

    2. Reply
      joyce gatland - 27th February 2019

      I want to bring my husband’s cremains, a British citizen, with me on a flight to London on April 27th. The container is of a metallic material….what is the protocol. Please help. Regards Joyce Gatland

      1. Reply
        Richard Martin - 27th February 2019

        The ashes will need to be in a non metallic container so they can be scanned, I would suggest a plastic urn or scatter tube. I hope this helps.

  20. Reply
    susan trevallion - 6th February 2019

    My father is a british subject but resided and died in California, USA. I want to mail his ashes home to England for scattering at family home there. I’m experiencing problems with the USPS who states they are the service who can mail cremated remains. The main problem is it keeps rejecting the parcel which is properly secured/labeled for being over 50grams. The package is approx. 14lbs or less. This is rediculos to me 50grams converts to 0.11 lbs not even 2ozs. How can this be possible it makes no sense to me? How do I resolve this or can it be resolved?
    Susan (daugther)

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 7th February 2019

      Dear Susan
      UK and US mail allow a very small amount of ashes to be transported for putting into keepsake jewellery. For a full set of ashes it is different UPS wont carry them in the UK and I presume the same is in the US. There are specialist courier services. They are quite expensive from the US this is a link to the our partner page https://scattering-ashes.co.uk/services/transporting/ I hope this helps.
      Regards
      Richard

  21. Reply
    Julie - 2nd February 2019

    Hi. The airline I’m flying with say the ashes must be in a hermetically sealed container. They are in a scatter tube. Does this count as hermetically sealed? If not, is it possible to have them transferred to something suitable? If so, will this cause problems as the number on the certificate of cremation won’t match the label on the scatter tube. Thank you.

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 4th February 2019

      Hermetically sealed just means air-tight, scatter tubes are effectively air-tight. We recommend people to use them for traveling. We can’t offer any guarantees as to what airline say, but we have never had one person told they are unsuitable. I hope that helps

      1. Reply
        Julie wigglesworth - 18th February 2019

        Thanks you very much Richard. I’m very relieved to hear this information. Thank you.

        Julie

  22. Reply
    Lucy - 19th January 2019

    My Grandma recently died and we will be having her cremated shortly. We have kept my grandads ashes as they wanted to be scattered together.
    Their favourite place was Sorrento in Italy and we would love to scatter them together there. However it doesn’t look as simple as I thought it would be to organise.
    Do you have any advice about how to go about organising this if possible? We live in the UK.
    Thank you for any information you can provide.

    1. Reply
      Richard Martin - 28th January 2019

      Dear Lucy
      Scattering law in most European countries is quite restrictive, there is presumption that families will inter ashes at a cemetery. It is unlikely that you will get explicit agreement from any statutory authorities. Sorry.
      Kind regards
      Richard

  23. Reply
    Aimie Geraghty - 2nd January 2019

    Hi,

    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
      Richard

  24. 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.
      Regards
      Richard

  25. 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.
      Regards
      Richard

  26. 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
      Regards
      Richard

  27. 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

      Hi
      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
      Richard

  28. 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

  29. 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
      Richard

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