Can You Bring Ashes On A Plane?

Travel often involves not just the transit of the living, but also of precious memories and tokens from those who have passed on. One such token is cremated ashes, often transported by individuals wishing to honor a deceased loved one’s final wishes to be scattered in a place of special significance, or to rest with family in a distant location.

The practice of transporting cremains – a term synonymous with cremated remains – is not new; people have been moving ashes long before air travel became common. However, the introduction of modern aviation has brought with it the need to regulate this process with sensitivity to various cultural norms and legal requirements. Airlines and security agencies around the world have thus implemented specific guidelines to ensure that the transportation of ashes adheres to safety standards while respecting the emotional significance of the task. Today, the ability to bring ashes on a plane is recognized as an important consideration for many travelers, subject to the adherence of strict rules and regulations that differ by airline and country. These protocols have evolved over time, reflecting changes in security measures, air travel protocols, and societal attitudes towards death and memorialization.

can you bring ashes on a plane

Can You Take Ashes On A Plane?

Transporting the ashes of a loved one can be an important part of the grieving process, and many people wish to do so while traveling by air. The answer to whether you can take ashes on a plane is yes, but there are specific guidelines and regulations that must be followed. Airlines and security agencies like the TSA have clear policies regarding the transport of cremated remains. These typically require the ashes to be stored in a container that can be scanned by X-ray machines, and it’s advisable to carry the death certificate and cremation certificate during your travels. Additionally, it’s important to check with the airline beforehand as they may have their own requirements. Understanding these rules ensures that you can travel with your loved one’s ashes with respect and without any complications. For a detailed discussion on the procedures and tips for flying with cremated remains, continue to the next section where we delve into the subject comprehensively.

Transporting Ashes on Domestic Flights in the USA

Travelers wishing to transport cremated remains, often referred to as ashes, on domestic flights in the United States need to comply with specific guidelines provided by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) as well as the airline policies. Ensuring awareness of these regulations can help ease the process and prevent delays or complications during security screenings or boarding.

TSA Guidelines for Carrying Ashes

The TSA has established clear instructions for passengers carrying ashes onboard domestic flights. The following points highlight these guidelines:

  • Ashes are permitted as carry-on items or as checked baggage.
  • The container holding the ashes must pass through the x-ray machine.
  • The container must be made of a material that allows the x-ray to clearly see what is inside. If the screener cannot clear the ashes, they will not be permitted.
  • Out of respect for the deceased, screeners are not permitted to open the container under any circumstances.
  • Travelers should ensure the container is securely closed and meets carry-on size and weight restrictions.

For the most current TSA guidelines on transporting ashes, visitors are encouraged to consult the official TSA website page dedicated to this topic.

Airline Policies Regarding Travel with Ashes

While TSA provides general guidelines applicable to all flights, airlines may have their own additional requirements. The following considerations should be taken into account:

  • Always check with the airline ahead of time as policies can vary between carriers.
  • Some airlines may require a copy of the death certificate and the cremation certificate.
  • Others may have specific dimensions of the urn or container that can be brought on board.
  • Passengers might need to declare the transportation of ashes at check-in.

Compliance with airline-specific regulations is critical to ensure that ashes can be transported without any issues.

Packaging and Containers for Ashes

Selecting the appropriate container for transporting ashes is crucial in adhering to TSA requirements and ensuring a smooth screening process:

  • Use a container that can be easily scanned, such as wood or plastic.
  • Many funeral homes provide containers designed to meet TSA guidelines.
  • Avoid materials such as ceramic or metal which may obstruct the view of the x-ray machine.
  • It is advisable to carry documentation relating to the ashes. While not a TSA requirement, it can be helpful during screening.

Preparation Before the Flight

Taking steps to prepare before arriving at the airport can help reduce the stress involved in traveling with cremated remains:

  • Review all TSA and airline regulations well in advance.
  • Ensure that the container is TSA-compliant and fits within the airline’s carry-on policy.
  • Consider contacting the airline to confirm any specific requirements or to notify them of your intent to transport ashes.
  • Arrive at the airport earlier than usual to allow time for any additional screening procedures.

Travelers carrying ashes should be prepared for potential additional screening and be cooperative with TSA agents and airline staff throughout the process. Patience and understanding that the procedures are in place for the safety and respect of all passengers, including those who are no longer with us, are paramount.

✔ Pro’s ✘ Con’s
Allows for transportation of a loved one’s remains to a significant place. Potential emotional discomfort or stress while carrying the ashes.
Can be part of fulfilling the deceased’s last wishes or family traditions. Varied airline policies and regulations may result in complications or confusion.
Many airlines offer clear guidelines for transporting ashes, ensuring safe passage. Ashes must be in TSA-approved containers, sometimes necessitating additional expenses.
Opportunity to have a ceremony or tribute in a different location. Risk of loss or damage during transit if not handled properly.
International travel with ashes may facilitate internment in a meaningful country. Some countries have strict customs rules and regulations about importing human remains, including ashes.

International Air Transport Association (IATA) Guidelines

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) provides guidelines for passengers traveling with cremated remains. These guidelines are designed to help travelers understand the general requirements and prepare for their journey:

  • Cremated remains should be carried in a container that can be screened. Materials such as wood or plastic are preferable, as metal containers may prevent security personnel from being able to properly screen the contents.
  • Travelers should carry a copy of the death certificate and the cremation certificate.
  • It is recommended to check with the airline regarding any additional requirements they may have.
  • Passengers should also check the destination country’s regulations on importing human remains, as these can vary significantly.

For more detailed information, passengers should refer to the IATA website or contact their chosen airline directly.

Citation: IATA Website

Country Specific Regulations

When flying internationally with ashes, it is crucial to be aware of the specific regulations that apply to the country you are traveling to or through. Each country has its own set of rules regarding the importation of human remains, including ashes. These regulations can include the type of container required, documentation, customs processes, and any other formalities that must be observed.

United Kingdom

  • A death certificate and a certificate of cremation are typically required.
  • Some airlines may have additional requirements, so it’s important to check with them in advance.

Citation: UK Government Website


  • European countries may have varying requirements; it’s advisable to check with the embassy or consulate of the destination country.

Citation: European Union Website


  • Transportation of ashes into Canada requires documentation such as a death certificate and cremation certificate.

Citation: Government of Canada Website


  • Travelers must declare the ashes to customs and may need to present a death certificate and a cremation certificate.

Citation: Australian Government Website

New Zealand

  • Similar to Australia, New Zealand requires a declaration to customs and the appropriate certificates.

Citation: New Zealand Government Website


  • Regulations in Asian countries can vary widely; it is essential to check with local authorities or the airline.

Citation: Specific Asian country government websites should be consulted.


  • A permit may be required, and travelers should have all necessary documentation.

Citation: Singapore Government Website

10 Airline-Specific Regulations for Flying with Ashes

Airlines may have their own specific regulations when it comes to flying with cremated remains. It is important for passengers to review and comply with these regulations to ensure a smooth journey. Here are the regulations from 10 different airlines:

American Airlines

  • Requires the cremated remains to be in a container that can be scanned.
  • Documentation such as a death certificate may be required.

Citation: American Airlines Website

Delta Air Lines

  • Accepts cremated remains as carry-on or checked baggage, but they must pass through an X-ray machine.

Citation: Delta Air Lines Website

United Airlines

  • Requires a death certificate and the container to be scannable.

Citation: United Airlines Website

British Airways

  • Requires that you carry the ashes in a suitable container and have all necessary documentation.

Citation: British Airways Website

Air Canada

  • Requires a copy of the death certificate and the cremation certificate.

Citation: Air Canada Website


  • Requires the ashes to be carried in a leak-proof, sealed container.

Citation: Qantas Website

Air New Zealand

  • Allows for the transport of ashes either as carry-on or checked in, but requires a copy of the death and cremation certificates.

Citation: Air New Zealand Website


  • Requires the urn to be sealed and not made of metal to ensure it can be X-rayed.

Citation: Lufthansa Website


  • Requires passengers to have all necessary documentation and comply with the destination country’s regulations.

Citation: Emirates Website

Singapore Airlines

  • Requires travelers to meet both the airline’s and the destination country’s requirements.

Citation: Singapore Airlines Website

Please note that the information provided here is for general guidance and passengers should always check with the relevant authorities and airlines for the most current and specific information regarding the transportation of cremated remains.

Understanding Airline Policies for Ashes

Before packing ashes in your luggage, it is crucial to check with the airline for their specific policies regarding the transport of cremated remains. Most airlines allow you to carry ashes either as carry-on luggage or in checked baggage, but they often require them to be in a container that can be securely closed and is x-ray transparent.

Packing Ashes in Carry-On Luggage

When taking ashes on board as carry-on luggage, you need to ensure that the process goes smoothly at security checkpoints. Here are some steps to follow:

  • Use a temporary plastic or wood urn that can easily pass through the x-ray machine as metal containers might prevent security from seeing the contents clearly.
  • Keep the certificate of cremation and death certificate with you at all times, as security agents might request them for verification.
  • Notify a TSA agent at the beginning of the security screening process that you are carrying cremated remains.
  • Ensure the urn or container is securely closed and cannot spill its contents during transit.

taking ashes through airport security

Packing Ashes in Checked Baggage

If you opt to pack ashes in your checked luggage, the preparation is slightly different, and additional precautions should be taken to ensure the remains are respected and arrive intact.

  • Select an appropriate container, preferably one provided by the crematory, that’s sturdy and has a tight-fitting lid. Furthermore, it should be placed within a secondary container that provides additional protection.
  • Surround the urn with soft materials such as clothes or bubble wrap to cushion any impact during handling.
  • Seal the secondary container with a heavy-duty adhesive tape and label it “Cremated Remains.”
  • Include the same legal documentation—certificate of cremation and death certificate—inside the top layer of your suitcase for quick access if required for verification.
  • Consider using a GPS tracker in your checked luggage to keep track of its location for added peace of mind.

International Travel Considerations

When traveling internationally with ashes, extra planning is necessary due to varying country regulations:

  • Consult with the consulate or embassy of your destination country regarding any specific requirements for carrying or shipping cremated remains.
  • Depending on the destination, you may need to have the cremation and death certificates translated and notarized.
  • Some countries require the container of ashes to be sealed by the crematorium and not opened afterward.
  • It is advisable to use a funeral director or professional service that specializes in transporting human remains internationally to avoid complications.

Similar Items to Ashes for Air Travel

When traveling by plane, passengers often wish to bring items of sentimental value or importance, akin to ashes. These can include religious artifacts such as a small statue or a rosary, keepsake urns containing pet hair or fur, lockets with a loved one’s photograph or a small clipping of their hair, and even soil or sand from a significant location. Additionally, travelers may carry jewelry that holds sentimental value, such as wedding rings or family heirlooms. It’s essential to check with the airline for their specific policies regarding these items, as they may require them to be stored in carry-on luggage and could be subject to security screening.

FAQ’s About Can You Bring Ashes On A Plane?

Traveling with the ashes of a loved one can be an important step in the grieving process, and many individuals wish to know how they can do so while flying. There are many questions surrounding the regulations and requirements for transporting cremated remains on an aircraft, and this FAQ section aims to address common concerns and provide guidance to help ensure that you can bring ashes on a plane with minimal stress and in compliance with the rules set by airlines and security agencies.

Is it legal to carry human ashes on an airplane?

Yes, it is legal to carry human ashes on an airplane. However, each airline might have its own policy regarding the transport of ashes, so it is important to check with the airline before traveling.

Do I need any special documentation to travel with ashes?

You may need a death certificate, a cremation certificate, and possibly additional documentation depending on the airline’s policy or the destination’s regulations. Check with the airline and relevant authorities in both the departing and arriving locations for specific requirements.

How should the ashes be packaged for transport?

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the United States requires that ashes be transported in a container that can be X-rayed. The container should be made of a material that allows the security equipment to clearly view its contents, such as wood or plastic. Metal is not recommended as it often obstructs the view of the X-ray machines.

Can I bring ashes as a carry-on item?

Yes, you can bring ashes as a carry-on item. The urn or container holding the ashes will need to pass through the security checkpoint, so it is imperative that it is scan-able.

Is it possible to check in ashes as baggage?

While you can check in ashes as baggage, it is generally recommended to carry them with you in the cabin to ensure their safe handling. Be sure to check the airline’s policy regarding ashes in checked luggage.

Do airlines have weight limitations for the urn or container?

Carry-on restrictions concerning the size and weight of the urn or container would apply, but there is no specific weight limitation just for ashes. Check with your airline for their standard carry-on baggage restrictions.

Will I have to open the urn or container for security inspection?

No, you are not required to open the urn or container during the security inspection. If the container is not X-ray transparent, security personnel may need to use alternative screening methods.

What happens if my urn cannot be screened through an X-ray machine?

If the urn cannot be screened, TSA agents may use other non-intrusive methods to clear the item. If the urn is not cleared, it may be denied passage through the security checkpoint. To avoid this, make sure your urn is made of a material that can be easily X-rayed.

Can I travel internationally with ashes?

Yes, you can travel internationally with ashes, but you must be aware of the specific entry requirements for the country you are traveling to, as regulations vary from country to country. It is crucial to research and contact the embassy or consulate ahead of time.

Are there any specific airlines that do not allow the transport of ashes?

Most airlines permit the transport of ashes, but policies can vary, and it’s possible that certain airlines might have restrictions. It is essential to check with the airline directly before booking your flight.

Packing It All Up

Transporting the ashes of a loved one by plane is possible, but it requires careful adherence to airline regulations and security measures. It is vital for travelers to verify the specific policies of the airline they plan to use, as these can vary significantly. In general, passengers are allowed to carry cremated remains as part of their carry-on or checked luggage. It is crucial to ensure that the container holding the ashes is x-ray transparent, as security personnel must be able to clearly see its contents during the screening process. Containers made from materials such as wood or plastic are often recommended to avoid complications.

In addition to airline policies, travelers should be mindful of the legal requirements for transporting human remains, particularly when flying internationally. This often entails possessing the appropriate documentation, such as a death certificate and a cremation certificate. Some countries may have specific import regulations or require additional documentation for the ashes. Before embarking on the journey, it’s essential to conduct thorough research or consult with the consulate of the destination country to avoid any legal issues or delays. By paying close attention to these key points and preparing accordingly, passengers can ensure that they honor their loved ones’ ashes with dignity and respect throughout their travels.