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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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29 thoughts on “Travelling with ashes

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

    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.

  4. 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 I hope this helps.

  5. 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.


  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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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