How much does it cost to transport a dead body? How to do it?

When someone passes away from home, transporting the remains is possible but costly. You can expect to pay between $1,000 and $15,000 – depending on whether the body is moved between cities or internationally. Transporting remains is quite a bit cheaper and easier. Check out the rest of this guide to find out everything you need to know about transporting a body or ashes within or to the United States.

How to transport a dead body

Whether you are transporting a body across cities, state lines or internationally some things are constant. First, you will likely need to employ the services of one or more funeral homes.

If the body is being shipped, you cannot do this on your own.  The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requires anyone shipping a body to be a “known shipper” – most funeral homes will have this designation. Furthermore, you will need a known shipper to also accept the body at its final destination. That’s why you need to coordinate with funeral homes at both locations to fully arrange the transportation.

Furthermore, bodies that will be flown need to be placed in specialized containers. You may purchase these from the funeral home.

If the body is to be transported via train or automobile, you will need to be aware of different state requirements for bodies entering the territory. Some may require the body to be embalmed or refrigerated.

Shipping a dead body internationally can typically cost between $1,000 and $15,000 (though you can expect to pay more or less, depending on the funeral home you decide to work with).

Body transportation embalming requirements by state

StateRequires embalming for interstate transport?Requires embalming for air travel?
AlabamaYesN/A
AlaskaYesNo
ArizonaYesNo
ArkansasNoYes
CaliforniaNoYes
ColoradoNoYes
ConnecticutNoNo
DelawareNoNo
District of ColumbiaNoNo
FloridaNoNo
GeorgiaNoNo
HawaiiNoNo
IdahoNoYes
IllinoisNoNo
IndianaNoNo
IowaNoYes
KansasNoYes
KentuckyNoNo
LouisianaNoNo
MaineNoNo
MarylandNoNo
MassachusettsNoNo
MichiganNoNo
MinnesotaNoYes
MississippiYesYes
MissouriNoNo
MontanaNoNo
NebraskaNoNo
NevadaNoNo
New HampshireNoNo
New JerseyNoYes*
New MexicoNoNo
New YorkNoNo
North CarolinaNoNo
North DakotaNoNo
OhioNoNo
OklahomaNoNo
OregonNoNo
PennsylvaniaNoNo
Rhode IslandNoNo
South CarolinaNoNo
South DakotaNoNo
TennesseeNoNo
TexasNoNo
UtahNoNo
VermontNoNo
VirginiaNoNo
WashingtonNoNo
West VirginiaNoNo
WisconsinNoNo
WyomingNoYes

*Embalming is required if the ultimate destination of the corpse is not reached in 24 hours or if final disposition does not take place within 48 hours.

How to transport cremated remains

Transporting cremated remains is significantly simpler and less expensive than moving a body.

If you want to ship the body, you can only do it through the United States Postal Service (USPS). Private companies, like FedEx and UPS, do not ship human ashes. The USPS has specific guidelines that you just follow when shipping. If you want to read everything the USPS has to say about it, you can check out their website here. Here is the summary:

  • You must ship cremated remains using either Priority Mail Express® or a Priority Mail Express International® service
  • You may use the package of your choice, though you must use Label 139 – this clearly identifies the contents of the package. It can be purchased at the Postal Store.

If you want to transport remains with you on a plane, the TSA does allow for it. However, the cremated remains must be contained in an enclosure that can be X-Rayed, as the officials are not allowed to open the container to inspect it.