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Everything You Need to Know About Packaging, Labeling and Shipping Cremated Remains

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By 2025, it’s estimated that nearly 65% of all families will choose cremation over burial. As cremation rates increase, there’s a growing demand for easier transportation of cremated remains from point a to point b.

In some cases, families wish to ship cremated remains for interring or scattering. Other times, families wish to distribute cremated remains between family members.

As trends change, more stringent security measures have been put in place to govern how cremated remains are prepped and packaged for transit. In fact, the United States Postal Service (USPS) Publication 139 is designed to make the packaging more visible to ensure a safe and secure mailing process.

Below, we explain everything you need to know when shipping cremated remains.

1. Packaging 

When it comes to packaging, you will need a primary inner sift-proof container to store the cremated remains. According to USPS, “A sift-proof container is any vessel that does not allow loose powder to leak or sift out.”

There are many sift-proof containers available, including decorative urns and wooden boxes. For international shipping, a funeral urn is required as the inner primary container.

It’s recommended that you place the inner container into a sealed plastic bag with sufficient cushioning around the contents to prevent it from shifting inside the outer shipping package.

The outer shipping package must be durable enough to withstand transportation handling. For convenience, the postal service has a priority mail express cremated remains kit.

Before closing and sealing the package, it’s recommended to add a slip of paper with both the senders and recipients address, as well as any contact information. This will provide postal employees with a means to contact you in the event the shipping label is damaged or detached.

2. Labeling

To increase the visibility of the packaging, the outer shipping box must be marked with Label 139 ‘Cremated Remains’ affixed to each side of the container, including the top and bottom. This label is free and available online and offline through USPS.

The packaging must also be labeled with a complete return and delivery address. The address format is the same as for any envelope. Write or print the address labels clearly.

3. Shipping

The USPS offers priority mail express for the shipping of cremated remains domestically and internationally.

It’s important to note that some countries have different regulations about receiving cremated remains, and what additional documentation must be completed beforehand. When shipping internationally, confirm that the destination country accepts cremated remains. Additionally, you must indicate the identity of the contents (cremated remains) on the required applicable customs declaration form.

If available, the cremation certificate should be easily accessible in the container. The sender is responsible for adherence to any restrictions noted by the designated country.

Uncover Even More Resources for Cremation

In recent years, we’ve seen more families choose cremation over burial. To get the best value, and to ensure that your loved one is care for with the utmost response, you need to understand common cremation costs. For more information, download Cremation Costs Explained: How to Get the Best Value Without Sacrificing Service.

Download our cremation costs explained guide



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