Review needs for transporting the deceased's body

Immediately After a Death

Depending upon where the Funeral and Memorial Services will be held, or the location of the deceased's final resting place, the deceased's body may need to travel a substantial distance.

Typically, a partnering Funeral Home or Crematorium will facilitate this process and transport the body from its current location to their facilities.

However, additional measures will need to be considered if the death occurred out of state or out of the country.

AutumnIcons_Providers.svgProviders Estate Attorneys can help with every step of the estate administration process and advise you of any relevant laws. Find attorneys near you at the links below.

Personal Considerations


Will services take place in the same state where the deceased passed?


Contact the local Funeral Home or Cremation service that has been contracted; they will most likely help facilitate transportation.

Inform them about the current location of the body and ask for their help in determining the best approach.

Lightbulb_Icon.svgGood to Know If you're not sure whether arrangements have been made with an end-of-life provider, you may find more information in the deceased's Last Will and Testament, burial instructions, or any paperwork for prepaid burial or cremation services.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about planning a funeral or memorial service, see the "Organize a Funeral" section of the Guide.


Contact a ground shipping company or a commercial cargo airline to transport the deceased's body to where final arrangements will take place.

Funeral Homes will likely help facilitate this process, especially in states that require transportation companies to be a Known Shipper, a designation that allows them to transport a deceased person's body across state lines.

Transporting Final Remains can be complicated because each state has its own laws that regulate the process. Because of this, it's best to work with a Funeral Director to help facilitate.

Examples of various laws include, but are not limited to:

  • When transporting bodies via commercial airlines, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requires that a funeral homes be certified as a known shippers
  • Some states require a Death Certificate and that the body be Embalmed before shipment
  • Some states may allow a surviving family member to transport the body themselves without a licensed funeral director
  • Typically, the cost of transport is relative to the weight and distance of the shipment

Lightbulb_Icon.svgGood to Know If you do not want to transport the body, you may want to conduct end-of-life arrangements and services where the death occurred, or cremate the deceased and more easily transport their ashes.


If services will occur in the same state where the deceased passed:

Contact the local Funeral Home or Cremation service that has been contracted; they will most likely help facilitate transportation.

Inform them about the current location of the body and ask for their help in determining the best approach.

Lightbulb_Icon.svgGood to Know If you're not sure whether arrangements have been made with an end-of-life provider, you may find more information in the deceased's Last Will and Testament, burial instructions, or any paperwork for prepaid burial or cremation services.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about planning a funeral or memorial service, see the "Organize a Funeral" section of the Guide.

If the body will need to be transported across state lines:

Contact a ground shipping company or a commercial cargo airline to transport the deceased's body to where final arrangements will take place.

Funeral Homes will likely help facilitate this process, especially in states that require transportation companies to be a Known Shipper, a designation that allows them to transport a deceased person's body across state lines.

Transporting Final Remains can be complicated because each state has its own laws that regulate the process. Because of this, it's best to work with a Funeral Director to help facilitate.

Examples of various laws include, but are not limited to:

  • When transporting bodies via commercial airlines, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requires that a funeral homes be certified as a known shippers
  • Some states require a Death Certificate and that the body be Embalmed before shipment
  • Some states may allow a surviving family member to transport the body themselves without a licensed funeral director
  • Typically, the cost of transport is relative to the weight and distance of the shipment

Lightbulb_Icon.svgGood to Know If you do not want to transport the body, you may want to conduct end-of-life arrangements and services where the death occurred, or cremate the deceased and more easily transport their ashes.


Did the death occur outside the United States?


Contact the United States embassy in that nation where the death occurred to report it. The embassy will help to coordinate arrangements to transport the body with a third-party provider.

They will also produce documents called the Consular Report of Death of a U.S. Citizen Abroad which will act as the official Death Certificate.

Exclamation_Icon.svgImportant It will only be issued to surviving family or the executor of the estate. This can be a complex process because many additional documents may also be required.

For example, when transporting bodies via an airline, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requires that the receiving funeral home be certified as a Known Shipper to facilitate the process.

AutumnIcons_Providers.svgProviders Speak with an Estate Attorney and a local funeral director who can ensure that an authorized person is able to receive the body in the United States.


Review the other steps listed in this task regarding transporting a body within a state, or across state lines.


If the death occurred outside the United States:

Contact the United States embassy in that nation where the death occurred to report it. The embassy will help to coordinate arrangements to transport the body with a third-party provider.

They will also produce documents called the Consular Report of Death of a U.S. Citizen Abroad which will act as the official Death Certificate.

Exclamation_Icon.svgImportant It will only be issued to surviving family or the executor of the estate. This can be a complex process because many additional documents may also be required.

For example, when transporting bodies via an airline, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requires that the receiving funeral home be certified as a Known Shipper to facilitate the process.

AutumnIcons_Providers.svgProviders Speak with an Estate Attorney and a local funeral director who can ensure that an authorized person is able to receive the body in the United States.

If the death occurred in the United States:

Review the other steps listed in this task regarding transporting a body within a state, or across state lines.

Providers to Contact


Estate Attorneys Near You

Estate Attorneys can work with appropriate authorities to help transport a deceased person's body. They help every step of the estate administration process and will advise you of any relevant laws.

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Immediately After a Death