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Helpful Information On Shipping Cremation Ashes

Author Jeri K. Augustus  / Category Information Center. Last Updated: March 23, 2024

Reviewed by John Conor. Reading time 35 mins.


The loss of a family member is often devastating, and deciding how to handle the burial can be stressful for the family and friends left behind. Cremation is a common method of preparing the deceased for burial. This process involves the incineration of the individual that has passed away. The remaining ashes can then be distributed or placed in an urn to bury. This process is generally less expensive than purchasing a more traditional casket.

It is becoming increasingly common for older people to begin planning their decisions regarding their after-death care before passing away2. Some might even finalize their cremation plans and carry information cards regarding their wishes in a wallet or bag. This advanced planning can help alleviate the stress that grieving families may feel after the passing of a loved one.

Why Would You Need To Ship Cremation Ashes?

There are a variety of reasons as to why the ashes of a deceased person may need to be shipped through the mail.


It is not uncommon for people to pass away when they are away from home. For example, a person may pass while away on a trip or serving in the military. In these instances, it may be necessary for their remains to be shipped from the place of death to the home of the deceased's family. When shipping ashes, all mail carriers and individuals handling the ashes have proper training to treat the remains with the utmost respect.


Many people may choose to be buried within a family plot of their ancestors. These plots are not always located in close proximity to where the deceased lived. Therefore, the remains of the deceased may need to be shipped to another state or country in order to reach their designated burial plot.


Cremains may also need to be shipped if the funeral rites are to be performed and carried out in a different location than the place of death. If this is the case, the family of the deceased may need the cremains to be shipped to a different country or state in order to carry out the burial and funeral process for their lost loved one.

Who Can You Ship Cremation Ashes Through?

USPS is the only legal mail carrier in the United States that can handle the deceased's ashes. The United States Postal Service handles the ashes with extreme care and has experience with shipping cremains across vast distances. The United States Postal Service can ship cremated ashes internationally and domestically. If you have any questions regarding shipping cremated ashes that are not covered in this article, please get in touch with your local branch of the United States Postal Service. Their trained employees can help to answer any questions you may have regarding the process.

Tips For Packaging Ashes & How To Send Human Ashes


It is important to note a few requirements when shipping loved ones ashes within the United States1. If you plan to ship cremains to other states in the United States, please adhere to the following checklist.

  • Requires an inner sift-proof container          
  • Requires packaging material to protect the inner container
  • Requires a strong and sturdy outer box to fully protect the contents when shipping


It is possible to ship cremated ashes internationally. However, some stipulations may apply. Cremated remains can only be shipped to countries that allow human remains to enter their country from abroad. Some countries, such as the United Kingdom, do not currently allow for the shipment of human cremated remains from outside their borders. This may limit some people's ability to ship the ashes of a deceased loved one. Please check with nation-specific guidelines if you plan to ship cremated ashes internationally.

Shipping cremated ashes internationally differs slightly from the process described above regarding domestic shipping of cremains. Please consider the following stipulations before attempting to ship cremated ashes internationally.

  • A funeral urn is required to act as the inner primary container for the ashes
  • The funeral urn needs to be sealed properly to avoid movement during transit
  • It is advised to have the urn itself in a plastic-sealed bag          
  • The plastic bag containing the urn should be labeled with the complete return address and delivery address as a safety measure**
  • Label the plastic bag containing the funeral urn as “Cremated Remains"
  • You must include a customs declaration form and state the contents of the package as Cremated Remains

** This step is advised in case the outer label on the package is damaged or missing during the shipping process. You can also add contact information for the individual sending or receiving ashes in case of an emergency.


Cremains must be shipped domestically and internationally through USPS Express Mail. The USPS also has a special Cremated Remains box for your convenience when shipping cremated ashes through the mail. It comes as a part of a kit for shipping cremains. Inquire at your local post office for more details regarding this kit. The cremation remains shipping box must have a Label 139 attached on each side, including the top and the bottom.

Label 139 is a specific tag that the USPS requires to be posted on any package containing the cremated remains of a human. This label can help other postal workers handle the package containing the deceased's ashes, ensuring that the package is handled with the utmost care and respect when moving it to its final resting location.

How Much Does It Cost To Ship Cremains?

There is no true standard price for the shipping of cremated remains. While this may seem strange, there are a variety of reasons why the price of shipping can vary for those who are managing the shipment of cremated ashes. The United States Postal Service does state that the cost of shipping most cremains falls between 25 and 35 dollars. However, this number may fluctuate due to variances in weight between different cremains packages. Check with your local post office for additional information regarding how they determine the cost of shipping for cremated remains.


Cremated remains can differ in size greatly. This is primarily dependent on the height and weight of the deceased. Therefore, a taller individual will likely have more ashes than a smaller individual. This weight of the cremated ashes can cause the shipping price to fluctuate depending on the scenario. As a general rule of thumb, more ashes will cost more to ship. Your local USPS store will be able to help you determine the weight of the ashes before shipping them to the desired location.


Another factor that can influence the cost of shipping cremated remains is the shipping insurance of the remains themselves. For obvious reasons, the shipping of cremated ashes is very important and must be taken seriously. For some grieving families, it may be advantageous to purchase shipping insurance for the package of cremains. They can help offer peace of mind to those who are waiting for the arrival of cremated remains. While the United States Postal Service prides itself on its ability to deliver cremated remains with the utmost respect, the additional insurance to ensure the safe arrival of the remains may be helpful for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one. If you are interested in purchasing additional shipping insurance for the cremated remains of a loved one, please check with your local branch of the Post Service for more details.


Another reason that the price may differ when shipping cremains involves using a return receipt3. If you choose to utilize the safety of a return receipt when shipping cremated remains, the shipping cost may increase slightly. However, the peace of mind that this service can offer is often deemed worthwhile for many grieving families and friends.


This additional service requires a signature upon delivering the cremated remains to their proper destination. This additional security measure can help to ensure that the cremated remains are delivered to the proper location. This also means that they will be handed directly to an individual who will treat the remains properly. This can help to prevent a situation where the cremated ashes may be left on a doorstep in danger of inclement weather or misplacement. This additional service can truly help the family of the deceased feel more at ease with the proper shipping and handling of their loved one's ashes.


As with many shipped packages, the destination of the cremated remains can impact the cost of shipping as well. If cremated ashes are shipped a short distance, the shipping cost will be significantly less than if they need to be shipped across a long distance. This means that international shipping of cremated remains can often be more expensive than shipping cremains within the United States. Depending on the destination, your post office branch will be able to help you determine how expensive the shipping fee will be.

Additional Services Offered By Funeral Homes Regarding Handling Of Ashes

For many people, the shipping of their loved one's ashes can be a stressful and overwhelming process following the death of their loved one. Many people might feel as though they are unable to handle some of those tasks following the passing of their beloved family member. In those instances, the task of shipping cremated remains may need to be delegated to another person. Some funeral homes can assist with this process in order to alleviate some of the burden that the grieving family must handle during this difficult time. Funeral homes often offer different service packages when it comes to handling the death and burial of a loved one. In some cases, they may even offer to help oversee the handling and shipping of cremated remains to the specified burial place of the deceased.

It is not uncommon for funeral rites to be performed in a different location than the final resting place of the deceased's remains. This may mean that cremated remains will need to be shipped to a final burial plot after the funeral process takes place. Please inquire with your specific funeral director for additional insight into whether they can ship cremated remains for you. This fairly common practice can help the grieving family navigate through this difficult time.

How To Select An Urn To Ship Cremated Ashes Inside

As mentioned above, shipping cremated ashes out of the country requires that the ashes be transported within an urn in order to protect them during transit. This means shipping father or mother ashes internationally requires transportation within a special urn. Selecting the proper urn for shipping the ashes of the deceased can seem daunting, but some companies can help to make this process seamless and stress-free. Their selection of burial urns is expansive and, with such a variety available, you are sure to find an urn that meets your specific needs.

Burial urns come in a variety of sizes, and it is important to note how much ashes you will need to ship in order to determine the appropriate size of burial urn. A larger amount of ashes may require a bigger urn, which can also impact the cost of shipping. When shipping multiple sets of cremated remains, it is advised to keep them in separate urns and ship them in different boxes in order to avoid any confusion with handling.

Exceptions may apply for those who intend to combine ashes within a couple urn or larger urn intended to hold the remains of multiple individuals. See your local post office branch in order to learn more about this situation.

You may be shipping spouses' ashes and interested in a couple's urn larger than a standard urn. These urns can then be used to hold multiple sets of ashes in the future so that couples' remains can be buried together.

How Long Does It Take For Cremated Ashes To Arrive At The Destination?

Many people wonder how long it takes to pack cremated ashes and ship them to their designated location. The United States Postal Service works to deliver all human cremated ashes promptly to ensure that they are treated with proper respect. However, the time that it takes to receive cremated remains can differ depending on the intended destination. Internationally shipped cremains will take longer to arrive than cremated remains that are shipped within the United States. The shipment of the ashes can be tracked to inform you their whereabouts while in transit.

All human cremation remains are shipped using Priority Express Mail and this often means that the cremation remains can arrive at their destination within 1 to 2 days. The postal service takes the prompt delivery of cremation remains very seriously; therefore they try their best to deliver the ashes promptly and safely.

Safety Of Packaging Human Ashes And Shipping Them Through The Mail

Many people may worry about the safety of shipping cremated remains through the mail. Packaging cremated remains can be a daunting task for grieving families. This is a valid fear, especially after losing a very dear loved one.

Shipping cremains is safe and the United States Postal Service takes the job very seriously. Additional rules and regulations help ensure that the ashes are delivered properly, so mistakes are uncommon during the cremation remains shipment process.

With specialized labels and additional safety steps being taken, you can be confident that the cremains package will be treated with respect and care. Through the USPS, you can track the location of the cremains and actively watch as they are processed through the system in order to be delivered to you. If you have any additional questions about the safety of shipping cremains through the mail, make sure to stop by your local post office and request additional details regarding the cremation shipping process.

How To Cope With The Stress Of Shipping Cremated Ashes

Shipping cremation ashes through the mail can be a very stressful situation for the grieving families that have been left behind. It is natural for families to worry about the safety of the cremains when it comes to shipping them across far distances. However, it is important to remember that you are not alone in this feeling.

Many people have experienced similar situations and may be able to help you navigate this difficult time. Consider reaching out to other individuals who have experience when it comes to the loss of a loved one. It is possible that they too have experience with the shipping or receiving of cremation remains.

Asking for help is never a sign of weakness when it comes to grief and loss. Others that share this experience can help you navigate this tricky time and offer wonderful advice to make the process much easier.

Reach out to individuals who can help relate to your experience. They might be able to advise you on the steps to take when dealing with the shipment of cremation remains. They might also be able to assist you in finding a funeral home and director who can help make the process more seamless.

Additional Ways To Honor A Loved One After Their Cremation

You may find yourself in a position where the cremated remains of a loved one have been sent to a family burial plot far from your location. Shipping cremated remains can cause you to feel even more separated from the one you lost. Or the deceased may have created special instructions regarding how they would like their cremated ashes to be distributed. In cases where you might be far from the physical burial ground of a loved one, maintaining a connection to that deceased individual can be challenging.

However, there are various ways for you to stay connected with a loved one who has since passed away. The following list details many ways to feel close to those who have passed away. If you wonder what to do with cremains after receiving them, keep reading for thoughtful suggestions.


The loss of a loved one can leave you reeling and feeling unstable. It can be especially scary if you begin to feel as though you are forgetting little pieces about the individual that you lost. Adding a piece of memorial or keepsake jewelry to your collection can help you to always maintain a close connection with the loved one that you lost. Companies like Jewelry Keepsakes create wonderful, timeless pieces of memorial jewelry that can help you maintain a close connection to those who have passed away.


Sending cremains in the mail may take a little time. While waiting, you might be interested in crafting a personalized photo album to memorialize your loved one that has passed away. Compiling old photos and consolidating them into a single photo album can help you process your grief after the loss of a loved one.

It can be challenging to settle into life without your loved one there with you, but creating a personalized photo album can help you to feel less alone during the challenging times. While you wait for their ashes to arrive, you can sit down with the photo album and look through some of the best memories that you shared with your loved one before they passed away.

These photo albums can also make a thoughtful gift for others who may be grieving the loss of this loved one. For an extended family that might not be able to have the ashes of a loved one within a memorial urn nearby, a photo album can help them maintain a close connection to the deceased. Many companies that can help you to create memorial photo albums, and you can often customize and order them online to be shipped directly to your house.


If your loved one passed away far from home, you might be waiting for the arrival of their cremated remains. Sending ashes in the mail can give you a little time to locate the perfect memorial urn to commemorate your lost loved one. If the deceased passed away in the United States, their remains may be sent in a specialized bag but may lack an urn to contain them. In these instances, it may be helpful to purchase a memorial urn before the arrival of the ashes.

Purchased urns can be customized in order to commemorate your lost loved one. Choose from a variety of styles and consider personalizing the urn with an etched name, picture, or date. Many people like to customize urns in order to honor the loved one who has passed away. Consider adding a personal touch that helps to remind you of the individual that has since passed.


These pieces can be customized to contain specially engraved photos based on your favorite images of your lost loved one. Picture jewelry with ashes can contain both the ashes of the deceased as well as depict a favorite image of them on the pendent itself.

Other etchings and notes, including names and dates, can be engraved on the jewelry pieces. Wearing one of these specialty pieces in your day-to-day life can help you process your grief in a manageable way. This can be especially helpful when the deceased may be laid to rest far from you.


Other designs with ashes can feature an engraved photo or thumbprint of the beloved deceased. Wearing these memorial pieces can help you manage your grief during the most challenging times after the loss of a loved one. Check out this article from the Jewelry Keepsakes website for more information regarding memorial jewelry.

Suppose the ashes of your deceased loved one are being separated to be distributed in multiple ways. In that case, you may consider using the cremated ashes to fill a cremation jewelry piece. Ash jewelry or necklaces can be a meaningful way to commemorate the loss of a loved one. Items such as a cremated ash necklace can allow grieving families to feel close to those that they have lost. Companies such as Jewelry Keepsakes specialize in jewelry made from ashes and jewelery made with cremains.

If you know individuals who are struggling with the passing of a loved one, consider gifting them a piece of personalized jewelry with cremains so that they can carry a piece of their lost loved one with them at all times. This connection to the deceased can allow them to heal and move forward with their own lives.


As mentioned above, some individuals request to be buried in familial burial plots, which may be located far from the current homes of their loved ones. This can make it difficult to maintain a connection with the lost loved one due to the distance separating them. In these cases, creating a small memorial to your lost loved one in your own home or yard can be very helpful.

Consider ordering a small stone memorial or a framed picture of your lost loved one, and create a special place within your home to honor their memory. Setting aside a special bench in your garden with a name plaque or picture of the deceased can allow you to always feel a special connection with the one who has passed away. On days when the grief feels overwhelming, you can go to the memorial you created and spend time thinking and remembering the one who has passed away. This process can help you to heal even when you are far away from the burial plot where they were laid to rest.

Shipping Cremains Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to mail cremated remains?

Yes, it is safe to mail cremated remains! The United States Postal Service is the only authorized organization to ship cremated remains legally. They have an extensive set of rules and regulations regarding the shipment of cremated remains that help to ensure the cremains' safe delivery. Specialized labels and tracking information help postal workers handle cremains packages with the utmost care and respect.

What are the rules for mailing and handling human ashes/ human cremains?

Special rules govern mailing and handling human ashes to ensure the pacage is treated respectfully. Cremated remains must be specially labeled so that all postal workers know the package's contents. This helps them treat the cremation remains with special care in order to respect the deceased and their loved ones who are left behind.

Is there a special kit that I can purchase to ship the cremains?

Yes! The United States Postal Service sells a special kit for those who wish to easily ship the cremation remains of a lost loved one. This package includes a sturdy box, a roll of priority mail shipping tape, protective bubble wrap for the urn or ashes, a self-sealing plastic bag, and a copy of a cremation shipping manual that can answer any questions you may have regarding the delivery of human cremains.

How expensive is the cremains shipping kit offered by the USPS?

The cremains shipping kit from the United States Postal Service is free. This includes all of the above-listed items. There are fees that can be incurred for additional services such as signature reguired, etc. This may be the best option for those who are feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of shipping the cremated ashes of their lost loved one. This package can help to answer any questions you might have regarding the entire process.

Do I need a death certificate to ship cremated ashes?

You may wonder if you need a death certificate to ship the cremated ashes of a deceased loved one. The simplest answer to this question is that it can depend. Some airlines may require that specific documentation, such as a death certificate, before shipping the cremains. Other authorization forms may be required prior to shipping any cremains internationally. Additionally, help from an authorized/licensed funeral director may be needed when shipping or receiving cremated remains. Inquire with the USPS and your funeral home before shipping or receiving any human cremains.

Can the funeral home or funeral director ship the cremated ashes for me?

Many funeral homes can help you to ship the cremated ashes of your lost loved one. If this process seems too challenging to handle as you are coping with the loss of your loved one, consider asking your funeral director to assist with the process. If you want them to assist with this process, ask them while you finalize the funeral plans.

Are USPS Priority Mail boxes required to ship cremated remains?

While priority mailboxes are not required to ship cremated remains, it is important to use a sturdy box that will hold up during transportation. A priority mail box if you are still looking for a proper box to ship the cremated remains. The most important thing to remember is to select a sturdy box that will handle shipping well.


The process of planning a funeral and finalizing a burial can become more complicated if the deceased's remains need to be transported to their final resting place. It is common for mourning families to feel stressed with this entire process. It can be necessary to send cremated remains in the mail for a variety of reasons, but remember that this is not the cause of stress. The United States Postal Service is the only organization that has special legal permission to handle and ship the cremated remains of an individual who has passed away.

If you find yourself in a position where shipping cremated remains are necessary, take time to seek help from a funeral home or closely look at the listed requirements. When properly packaged and marked, the cremated remains of a deceased loved one can safely and respectfully be transported to the final place of rest for your loved one. Shipping cremated remains is fairly common and there are a many safety checkpoints within the system to ensure that the cremated remains make it to their destination safely.

Works Cited

  1. "Shipping Cremated Remains and Ashes" USPS, 6 Mar 2024,
  2. "What Is Advance Funeral Planning?" Funeral Basics,
  3. "Return Receipt - The Basics" USPS, 9 Jul 2023,

Updated March 23, 2024

Jeri K. Augustus

Meet Jeri K. Augustus, an experienced customer service professional from Great Falls, Montana, with a heart full of compassion for helping others. Jeri has spent more than four decades in the industry and has gained a wealth of personal experience with loss and grief. She has dedicated herself to assisting families in finding meaningful ways to honor their loved ones who have passed on and celebrate those who are still with us.

Jeri's contribution to the cremation jewelry industry is remarkable. She played a key role in developing new lines of modern pendants, cremation rings, and bracelets. She launched a line of photo-engraved jewelry that now includes several hundred styles for families to choose from. She is actively involved in leadership and customer care at Jewelry Keepsakes Inc., where she helps people every day with their inquiries and concerns regarding these products.

Despite her many years in the industry, Jeri remains passionately committed to helping those who are grieving and supporting families as they find personal ways to cherish their loved ones. She still resides in Montana and enjoys spending her free time with her dogs, children, and grandchildren. If you're looking for someone who can guide you with compassion and expertise in selecting a beautiful keepsake to remember your loved ones, Jeri is the perfect person to help.