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Frequently Asked Questions About Urn Repatriation Abroad

Is it possible to carry an urn in hand luggage on an airplane?

Here’s the translated text with paragraphs for clarity:

This question is among the most asked regarding urn repatriation abroad. Since sending an urn or ashes via parcel is no longer an option, families must transport the urn by airplane to its destination.

According to German funeral law, it is illegal for private individuals to transport deceased remains, as funeral companies in Germany are regulated and knowledgeable about the funeral and cemetery laws. Initially, it is not permitted for a private individual (not a funeral director) to hand over an urn on German soil, so that the urn can be transported by a relative to the airport or handed over there.

The reasons for this are found in dozens of incidents over the last 20 years, where the ashes/urn of the deceased have disappeared without a trace and the transport of the urn could no longer be traced. Upon arrival at the airport, it may be possible for the respective airlines to grant an exception if the necessary documents are present and the urn is discreetly packaged.

Here, based on our years of experience, the problems for the relative who wants to transport the urn in carry-on luggage abroad begin, in order to avoid the costs of the transfer professional/funeral director. If the customs officers at the checkpoint in the security area at the airport after check-in X-ray the urn, they may discover some metal parts and other unrecognized objects in the ash capsule, and are likely to question the person in the room, check the documents, and also inspect the contents of the urn for dutiable or prohibited items, as smuggling of prohibited substances occurs again and again. The customs authorities are always very skeptical when it comes to the transfer of an urn by a private individual.

If the relative is allowed on board with the urn, based on the airline's permission, several very risky hurdles await him at the destination airport abroad. Abroad, such as at the airports of Rio de Janeiro or New York, the authorities always assume the worst when a private individual wants to cross the border with an urn in hand, especially if it concerns a citizen who was cremated. One may be questioned why a funeral director was not allowed to transfer the urn, and everything was securely run through the cargo, and whether the inside of the urn really is the ashes of a deceased person, and whether the documents are original.

Here, in the last 15 years, it has already happened more than 18 times with us that people with an urn in hand have been put in pre-trial detention for a few days. With this detailed explanation and examples from reality, we wanted to give you a picture of the existing risk of transferring an urn abroad on your own by taking it on board or wanting to drive it across the border by car.

Most consider one of these aforementioned options because they want to save money, but unfortunately, this ends up being even more expensive in the end. Therefore, we recommend that you always transfer urns through us through customs, forwarding, and handling partners of the airlines, as the urn is handed over in a secured state at the airline's airport, and in the AWB Air Way Bill we are registered as a professional transfer company as a secured aviation service provider/funeral director, and thus no questions are asked.

Is it still possible to send an urn via mail (DHL, UPS, FedEx, etc.)?

Unfortunately, parcel delivery companies such as DHL or UPS have discontinued their shipping services for urns for some time now, as there have been recurring difficulties in shipping urns abroad.

This has often led to significant outrage and complaints from family members, as the urns were frequently held up at customs for long periods, and/or the partners of the parcel delivery companies abroad generally refused to accept human remains or urns for reasons of respect.

As a result, the urns were often returned to the sender after several weeks. Consequently, the funeral, interment, or burial could not take place as planned for logistical reasons. And this is naturally very frustrating, considering that the parcel contains the ashes of a person who has the right to a well-planned and dignified farewell.

Therefore, we always recommend the more reliable method of transporting an urn by plane as HUM cargo, secured, x-rayed, and cleared by German customs at the airport.

How much does it cost to repatriate an urn abroad?

The cost of repatriating an urn abroad by plane varies depending on the current location of the urn and the destination, as well as whether the urn is transported by plane or by vehicle.

  1. Location of the Ashes/Urn: If the urn needs to be personally collected by us because the funeral director or crematorium currently in possession of the urn wishes so, it naturally affects the costs.
  2. Destination of the Urn Abroad: The costs for transporting an urn, for example, from Germany/Munich to Austria/Kufstein, are naturally lower if done by vehicle and nowhere near as much as repatriating the urn to countries like the USA or China. Especially if the urn transfer is to conflict zones like Ukraine, where transporting the urn by plane is impossible, an external local partner company is tasked with personally collecting and transporting the urn by car to the desired location, sometimes driving up to 2500 km. And these are, of course, different costs.
  3. Urn Repatriation by Plane Abroad: The most common option for urn transfer is by plane. This option provides a safe and reliable way to quickly transfer the urn to distant countries. The recipient will pick up the urn at the destination airport at the cargo gate/customs freight department.


How much does it cost to repatriate an urn abroad? Cost examples

Cost examples for various cases of urn shipment abroad:


  1. Cost example: Urn by plane from Munich, Germany to Tokyo, Japan:

      Mr. Mustermann

We transport urns worldwide by plane.

In addition to repatriating a deceased person's remains by coffin, we also offer the option of cremating the deceased in Germany and repatriating the urn abroad.

We organize the repatriation of the urn from abroad to Germany.

With partnerships established with over 1200 companies abroad, we have the capability to repatriate the urn from abroad back to Germany.

All countries where we transport urns/ashes and repatriate them to Germany

We provide urn transportation to and from the following countries: Afghanistan, Egypt, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Azerbaijan, Ethiopia, Australia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus (Belarus), Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Great Britain (England), Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Denmark, Germany, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Eritrea, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Ireland, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Yemen, Jordan, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Kazakhstan, Qatar, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Colombia, Congo, Korea, Croatia, Cuba, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Morocco, Mauritania, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, New Zealand, Netherlands (Holland), Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Austria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Rwanda, Romania, Russia, Zambia, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Switzerland, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, Spain, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Sudan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Chad, Czech Republic, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Hungary, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, United Arab Emirates, USA (United States of America), Vietnam, Central Africa, Cyprus.