A lot of people like the idea of scattering ashes in a favourite holiday spot or in a meaningful location abroad. Many others simply want to bring ashes “home” to family members living overseas. As long as you take a few precautions ahead of time, taking ashes abroad can be pretty simple. However, prep and research is essential.

If you’d like support with sending a loved one’s ashes abroad, our repatriation team is here to help. Call (+44)800 054 9794 to find out more about our swift, caring and professional service.


How to take cremated ashes abroad

To travel with ashes, you will need:

  • The death certificate
  • The certificate of cremation

It’s also best to have:

  • A document from your funeral director or the crematorium stating that the urn contains the ashes of the person who has died (no one else)
  • Proof of your relationship with the person who died

The guidelines on taking ashes abroad can vary quite a bit depending on your destination and how you’re getting there. So, your next step after gathering the paperwork is to contact the airline you’ll be travelling on and ask what their guidelines are. Usually, they will tell you:

  • Ashes can be taken on the plane in your carry-on luggage
  • They will be x-rayed, and should be kept in a suitable non-metal container (see below)
  • You may need to declare the ashes at Customs with the paperwork above
  • It’s best to arrive at the airport early to allow time for security checks

That done, your final step is to contact the British consulate, embassy or high commission of the country you are headed to and ask what their requirements are. This is very important, as all countries are slightly different.

If you’re holding the funeral service abroad, arranging a direct cremation in the UK can save you time and money. Beyond’s direct cremation service includes hand delivery of the ashes across England and Wales, and starts at just £1,195. Find out more here.


What kind of container can you take ashes abroad in?

You have two main concerns when it comes finding a container for taking ashes abroad: keeping them together, and not getting stopped during airport security. So:

  • Don’t keep the ashes in a metal, stone or ceramic container
  • Do make sure the container seals tight
  • Do double or triple layer a few containers; for example, you could place the first sealable container in a plastic bag, pad it with bubble wrap, then put it inside another sealable container
  • Do clearly label the container with your name, address and contact details


Sending human ashes abroad by mail

Sadly, you can’t simply post ashes abroad as you would a standard letter or package.

Your best option for getting ashes safely taken abroad is to use a courier that specialises in repatriation. We offer a fast, caring and efficient repatriation service for families who need professional help sending ashes abroad. Find out more here, or call us on (+44)800 054 9794.


Scattering ashes abroad? Check the laws …

Before taking ashes abroad to scatter, it’s a good idea to do your research on the local laws relating to this.

Here in the UK, the guidelines on what you can do with ashes are actually pretty easy-going compared to many other countries. For example, most states in Germany forbid the scattering of ashes anywhere: ashes need to be buried in a cemetery in all cases. In France, you’re not allowed to keep ashes in the house, and can face a hefty fine if you do.

You may ask, “If I’m sneaky, who’s going to know?” But there are a lot of ashes to scatter, and the cost of getting caught can be high. Scatter illegally at your own risk.


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