Transporting A Body Over State Lines: Navigating After Death
By: Tom Harries
Apr 06, 2022 | End-of-life Logistics4 min read
When a person passes, there are certain situations in which a family needs or wants to transport their loved one’s body some distance.
This may be because someone has died far away from their home or their intended final resting place. Another reason is to access funeral practices which aren’t yet available in the state of passing.
Sometimes this travel will involve transporting a body across state lines. This article explains the general process for transporting human remains between states for funeral arrangements. It explains who can carry out the transportation and what is required to do so.
How To Transport Remains Over State Lines
There are two important points to note before following the steps in this article. The first is that state laws regarding the transportation of remains vary, and so it is important that you check applicable laws and regulations. Your funeral home will be able to advise you on this.
The second is that the rules for transporting a body are usually different from the rules for transporting cremated remains or human compost. For the latter, a permit will be issued with the remains which allows transportation between states including by air.
Step 1: Contact The Funeral Home
Your first step should be to speak to your preferred funeral home about transportation. Most funeral homes are able to arrange a ‘ship out’ - a special purpose transportation service. These journeys will sometimes include air travel, and ship out providers are often the only people airlines will work with for transporting remains. There is a specific TSA designation, “known shipper” - most airlines will only allow known shippers to use their services to transport human remains.
A family may wish to undertake a journey themselves, if the location is within driving distance. Again, contacting your funeral home will be an important first step. The funeral home may be able to organize an appropriate vehicle and assist with the transport vessel and cooling.
If the need for transportation is expected, you can incorporate transport into your end-of-life planning. Speaking with a local funeral home before the need arises will make funeral planning easier for family members.
Step 2: Get A Burial Transit Permit
Before crossing state borders, you must ensure you have a burial transit permit. This is usually obtained when working with your local funeral director to issue a death certificate. To obtain a permit you will need information including the cause of death (provided by the medical provider) and the deceased’s personal information.
Step 3: Have The Body Transported By Car Or Common Carrier
Whether the journey is carried out by road only or also by air depends on the distance that needs to be traveled. It also depends who is providing the transportation. Ship out providers will find organizing plane travel easier. This is because they will have existing relationships with airlines, many of which don’t allow anyone other than ship out providers to fly human bodies as a company policy.
Transport For Natural Organic Reduction
At Earth, we provide soil transformation, a natural, environmentally friendly alternative to cremation and burial. Our process, also known as natural organic reduction or human composting, gently transforms a body into nutrient-rich soil over a 30 day time period.
We return a portion of the soil in a biodegradable container. Transporting the soil is straightforward and something that we take care of for you. It can be sent to any US postal address via USPS Priority Mail Express. It can also be hand delivered to an address in our service area or collected in person from one of our facilities.
What can be less straightforward is arranging transport to our facilities from a state where soil transformation is not available. By following the steps in this article, you will be able to work out how easy and appropriate transportation to our service area will be for you.
We care deeply about the environment at Earth. That’s why we want to help make your last impact on earth a green one. Long distance transport can be damaging to the environment. We would not discourage you from using our services when substantial transport is needed, but there are measures we recommend taking to reduce and offset any emissions involved.
To be the most environmentally conscious, you should consider your choice of vessel for transportation. Natural-wood caskets or combination units made from cardboard materials would be the greenest options and are also suitable for shipping purposes. Another important choice to remain eco-friendly is to use dry ice for transportation rather than an embalming process. Embalming is not appropriate for natural organic reduction. It is again very important to check regulations, as some states require embalming before state lines are crossed (sometimes this will only be the case if transportation is conducted by common carrier).
One way of addressing the carbon emissions is to calculate the CO2 emissions of the journey using a simple online calculator and then purchase a carbon offset. There are a number of nonprofits who plant trees and undertake other activities calculated to offset carbon dioxide emissions.