Shipping a dead body often is a complex process that has very strict requirements. After the death of a loved one or family member that occurred in another state or country than the place in which the funeral will take place, the deceased body will need to be shipped. The shipping of a dead body will require a large amount of documents and rules to be followed.
A deceased body can be transported by plane or ground transportation. Before choosing the type of transportation, you will need to talk with a funeral home and get several documents that will be needed when shipping the deceased body.
There is also the option to ship the body after it is cremated, but there will be particular rules to be met.
How much does it cost to ship the body of a deceased person?
The cost range of shipping a deceased body in the United States is anywhere from $1,500 to $15,000. The cost will greatly depend on the length of shipment, the weight of the remains, the type of transportation that is chosen, as well as the company you choose.
Depending on where the individual died, the cost of shipping a body, for example, on a 500-mile trip done by plane can cost somewhere between $1,500 and $3,000. The cost for shipping the dead body within the United States typically costs between $2,000 and $6,000. However, an international shipment of the dead body will greatly increase the cost to anywhere from $10,000 up to $20,000.
According to CasperFuneralService.com, they provide shipment of the body via airplane for a flat service fee of $3,840 plus the airfare. The airfare cost will greatly depend on the length of the travel and the weight of the body.
International Insurance stated that the cost of shipping cremated remains internationally may start somewhere from $300, while a deceased body shipment can cost between $10,000 and $20,000.
Another dedicated website called FuneralFundamentals.com claimed that the cost of transporting a body across the United States can range between $2,000 and $6,000 plus fees from the funeral homes participating in the shipment process. Also, they state that two funeral homes will be involved, one that will organize the sending and one that will organize the receiving of the dead body. They claimed that the cost for both funeral homes can add to a max of $5,000.
US-Funerals.com states that usually, funeral homes charge $1.00 to $4.00 per loaded mile for transporting a body via ground transportation. Also, they claim that the cost of the ship-out fee charged by the dispatching funeral home within the United States ranges between $600 and $1,500.
However, airline funeral shipments within the United States can cost anywhere from $600 to $3,000. They also mention that several other fees are applied, such as for embalming and other requirements.
One member of the Quora.com forum commented on another member’s post that her local funeral home charges between $2,000 and $7,000 for shipping a body. The deceased does not need to be embalmed, it can be shipped packed in ice.
4Funeral.com says that the cost to transport a body by plane within the United States can range anywhere from $1,200 to $4,500, while internationally it will cost between $4,000 to $10,000. It is also stated that the cost will greatly depend on the location, the airline company, and other factors.
Take into consideration that these costs are to be taken as estimates. Each situation is different, and depending on the distance, the means of transport, and other important factors, the cost will vary.
We strongly recommend talking to a funeral home about your specific situation, in order to get an accurate cost and additional details.
Factors that affect the price
As with any transport, the cost of shipping a body will depend on several factors such as:
- Distance is a top factor that will influence the cost, as to longer the distance, the higher the cost will be. Also, shipping a body internationally will definitely be more expensive than doing this within the United States.
- The means of transportation will also influence the cost when shipping a body. While air transport is the fastest mode, it will also be more expensive than ground transportation, which may be cheaper but will take more time.
- The weight of the deceased body will also influence the cost. Shipping the body in a casket will be heavier, and will need more manpower and fuel.
- Many funeral homes charge a bigger overall cost when shipping a body, depending on what kind of services will be included in the cost.
Shipping a body overview
When a loved one dies, this is an unfortunate event that usually needs a lot of preparation for the funeral. However, if the person died far away from home or from the burial location, things such as transportation will come with multiple requirements, papers, and costs.
First, you will need to contact a funeral home in order to help you with all the transportation and legal efforts. Keep in mind that there will be two funeral homes to work with, the one that ships the body and the one that will receive it, in the location where the deceased will be buried.
The first funeral home will be in charge of making the arrangements with an airline or on-ground transportation, depending on the length of the shipment and your choices. It is known that the shipment via air transportation will be much faster but more expensive than ground transportation.
If choosing to ship the body by airplane, the funeral home will take the body from the place of death and prepare it to be sent, usually by a cargo plane carrier. Within the United States, it is required by law to embalm the body before the shipment. Also, the remains may need to be stored in a refrigerated unit. When shipping the body to the receiving funeral home, you may need to purchase a casket or an approved shipping container for transportation.
Once the body is prepared for shipment, the arrangements for transportation are done and all the proper documentation is obtained, including the death certificate, and the body will be shipped to the receiving funeral home provider.
The receiving funeral home will collect the body from the airport, and transport it to the place of burial. At the airport, several checks and other cross-border administration procedures will be done to see if the documentation is correct.
Keep in mind that you can escort the body as a passenger. Usually, they require a family member to handle the process.
It is also common to cremate the human remains before shipping the deceased which is usually much more affordable and simple. In the United States, legally, cremated remains can be sent only via Priority Mail Express. Take into consideration that there will also be specific requirements for preparing, packaging, and shipping the cremated remains.
Extra costs to transport a dead body
When shipping a body, the United States requires embalming the remains which can add up to $1,000 to your overall cost.
Depending on how you choose to ship the body, a casket or a specific container will be required. For instance, a casket will cost another extra $2,000 to $5,000, on average.
Some funeral home directors may impose a mileage surcharge if they have to travel more than a particular distance to the airport, for instance, they can charge $1.80 per mile if they have to travel more than 25 miles.
In case you choose to cremate the body before shipping it, there will be an additional $500 to $1,500 to factor in.
Funeral services will almost certainly be a separate expense unless they are included in the quote, which is uncommon.
Other documentation may require additional costs.
Shipping a body on weekends or holidays may come with an additional cost.
Important things to consider
In order to ship the body by car, in most of the states you will need a licensed funeral director. However, there may be states where you can transport the body on your own via a car. Check the laws in that specific state, in order to see if you are able to transport the body by car on your own. But keep in mind that in most states this is illegal and will be punished by law.
Most of the time, the shipping company will be able to provide a tracking number that will allow you to check the location of the body.
You might be able to get insurance when shipping a body. Various insurance options are available which include liability insurance, cargo insurance, and transport insurance.
How can I save money?
Once you have the information about the origin and destination for the body to be shipped, ask for at least two to three quotes from different funeral homes. This way, you can compare the costs and services that they can provide and find the one that suits your needs and budget. We recommend contacting the American Association of Mortuary Shippers for more details.
Local funeral homes usually work with different airline companies which can provide different costs and inclusions.
Shipping the body via ground transportation may be cheaper than via cargo plane. Ask the funeral home about this option.
Also, shipping the body can be very expensive so, in order to save money you may want to take into consideration cremation as an option. Cremating the remains before shipping will significantly decrease the overall budget.