Can Pet Ashes Be Mailed?


Last year my family lost our beloved dog, Pancho. To remember him we wanted his ashes in a memorial glass. But how to send the ashes? This was a question that never crossed my mind until that dreaded day. The day we said goodbye to Pancho.

Can pet ashes be mailed? Yes pet ashes, like human ashes, can be mailed providing they are in two containers: the inner, leak-proof container that is well padded for protection, and the outer secure shipping container. In the USA the only service that allows mailing ashes is the United States Postal Service (USPS). DHL, FedEx and UPS will no longer accept cremated remains.

There are various reasons for wanting to mail your pet ashes. This may be to send back home, to distribute them amongst your family, or to add them to a memorial glass, jewelry, artwork or other devices for displaying the ashes. Whatever the reason for wanting to send the ashes on the mail, it must be done and labeled correctly.

We put together a list of all the requirements you need to consider when mailing the ashes or flying with ashes, to give you a one-stop guide to ensure your ashes get to the desired destination.

Mailing Your Pet Ashes In The USA

The USPS requires that ashes are packed and labeled correctly before they are sent:

  • An inner container and outer box are both required:
    • The inner container (a temporary or permanent urn for ashes),  must be strong, durable and leak-proof to securely contain the ashes inside. Furthermore, sometimes mail is x-rayed; therefore we recommend that for the inner container you use a container that will x-ray well. Avoid using granite, stone or metal containers as these will generate an opaque image. Lightweight structures such as wood, cardboard, fibreboard or plastic will normally x-ray well.
    • The outer container must be strong, durable and sift proof. This may be the free USPS Priority Mail Express Box.
  • Line the bottom of the outer container with plastic or any other sift proof material that will prevent ashes being lost if the inner container gets damaged or open.
  • To prevent the inner container from getting damaged or moving during transit, add padding, such as air bubble wrap or Styrofoam peanuts, to the bottom, top and sides of the inner container.
  • Before sealing the outer box, add a slip of paper containing the contact information for both the sender and recipient in case something happens to the outside label.
  • Mark the content of the box by placing a Postal Service Cremated Remains label (label 139), on the outside of the box next to the priority mail express service label (label 11-B). 
    • Label 139 has been designed to increase the visibility of the package during USPS processing and transportation.
    • Label 11-B must be used, as this label includes an online tracking system.
  • Typically, priority mail express service takes one to two working days. Guarantee delivery time vary between 12 noon or 3 pm. Sometimes, for an additional fee, delivery of priority mail express can be arranged at 10.30 am, and/or on Sunday. These services are however not available in all areas and should be confirmed with USPS
  • Priority Mail Express cost will vary depending on the size of the outer box:
Type of BoxSizeRate
Small Box8 11/16” x 5 7/16” x 1 3/4$7.50
Medium Box11 ¼” x 8 ¾” x 6” Or14” x 12” x 3 ½”$12.80
Large Box12-¼” x 12-¼” x 6”$17.60

The above flat rate is only available as long as the weight does not exceed 70 lbs.

Mailing Your Pet Ashes Abroad

Most of the above points are also true for mailing ashes abroad. You will need a durable, strong, sift proof inner container. With padding to the bottom, top and walls, and a strong outer container with label 139. However, instead of using label 11-B, you will need a priority mail express international shipping label and a customs form -PS Form 2976-B. 

International deliveries using the Priority Mail Express vary enormously but USPS suggests that delivery should take between 6 to 10 working days.

Shipping cremated remains overseas may require a bit more planning and research than if sending the ashes within the USA. This is because every country has its own rules to what they accept. In the UK, for example, you are only allowed to send 50g of the ashes.

Due to the vast differences in countries on what it is allowed and what it is not allowed, we recommend that one of the first steps that you should undertake is to contact the embassy of the country in question, to ensure they accept cremated remains, the documentation needed and any other regulations you need to be aware.

Flying With Your Pet Ashes

After 9/11 the airlines and airport security in the USA have become exceedingly strict on what is allowed in your hand luggage and what is allowed on your main luggage. Therefore, before deciding to take the ashes on the plane, it is paramount you understand the specific regulations at the airport and airline.

  • Urns, these are the most common way to transport the ashes. Therefore, when choosing the urn make sure it is lightweight (wood, cardboard, fibreboard or plastic), so that it can be x-rayed. It is against Transportation Security Administration (TSA) policy, and illegal, for airport employees to open the ash container. Therefore if it cannot be X-rayed it will not be allowed through security or in the plane.
  • Documentation, you will need something that proves that what is in the urn, are indeed cremated ashes. Your veterinarian may be able to help with this. 
  • Some airlines allow cremated ashes on your hand luggage, some do not. Therefore contact the airline before traveling to verify their regulations. Below are the current policies of a few major airlines. This should not be taken as a confirmation, and therefore we recommend you check with the airline before flying to verify this information is still relevant for you.
    • America Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Air Canada only allow the ashes if they are in the carry-on baggage.
    • United Airlines, Delta Airlines and British Airways accepts the ashes either in the carry on or checked luggage.
  • As per mailing ashes abroad, when thinking about flying abroad with pet ashes; contact the embassy of the country you are flying to. This ensures you understand if you can fly into the country with the ashes, what documentation is needed, and any other regulations you need to be aware of.

Conclusion

Pet ashes can be mailed as long as the USPS packaging and labeling regulations are met. If wanting to send the ashes abroad, check with the embassy of the country in question to verify that ashes are allowed and any regulations you need to be aware of.

When mailing ashes, only USPS can be used. They have clear guidelines on how to send the ashes: use an inner and outer container, line the outer container, pad the inner container and use the correct labels (including label 139).

If flying with your pet ashes; verify with the airline if these can be taken as carry on or check-in luggage. If flying abroad contact the embassy of the country you are flying too, to verify the documentation needed and any regulations you must be aware of.

Have you ever mailed pet ashes? Did you have any problems? Please leave your comment below.

Carolina

I'm Carolina and created this blog, to provide practical advice and emotional comfort for those dealing with pet loss.

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