Most Americans die either at home (20%), in a nursing facility (20%) or at the hospital (60%)*. Of those in the last group, most pass away at a hospital in or near their home town. In all of these cases, transportation to the funeral home is simple and straightforward.
However, if someone dies away from home things are more complex, especially if they pass away out of state or out of the country. Essentially, the transport options are going to vary depending on whether you plan to have a cremation, burial or green burial.
Transport Options for Burial
When a death occurs away from home and a burial is planned, transport is the first priority. There are three options that will work in most situations, although travel time can be a determining factor. The options include:
A professional ground transit service is often the simplest and most cost-effective option. The funeral home may be able to send their own driver and vehicle or they may work with a third party company. Most ground transit services charge $3-$5 a mile.
Can you transport a deceased loved one yourself? It’s possible, but it might not be the best option.
First, you need a vehicle that can carry a casket safely. And you have to know how to properly secure the casket in the vehicle. If you have the means to handle the transport next you’ll need to check the legal stipulations.
Each state makes their own regulations about transporting the deceased. You have to make sure whoever is driving is legally allowed to do the transport in every state you drive through. A burial transit permit may also be required along with the death certificate and death registration documents.
Air transport is possible, but the airlines don’t work with just anyone. They only work with “known shippers” which essentially means funeral homes. If both the starting location and end destination are near major airports the air transport will typically cost $300-$500. Flights in and out of smaller regional airports may cost more. Of course, ground transit will also be needed to and from the airport.
If a loved one passed away a very long distance from home, transport by plane is often the best option.
Transport Options for Green Burial
Because preservation options are limited with green burial, time could be of the essence. If the body is not kept cool in a refrigerated unit green burial needs to happen within three days. With refrigeration, the green burial can be done up to a week later.
For this reason, a plane may be the best option when you only have a few days to have a viewing before the green burial. Transport by airplane may also be the greenest option since a larger vehicle is needed to transport the deceased by ground.
Transport Options for Cremation
Cremation provides an additional option that isn’t possible with burial. You could choose to cremate a loved one in the state where they passed away if you didn’t plan on having a viewing. This is what’s known as direct cremation, and it takes a lot of pressure off the process. The cremated remains can easily be transported to an out-of-state location.
The options include:
Transporting cremated remains yourself is very easy. There are no regulations against it, and the receptacle can fit in any vehicle. The one thing you probably will need though is a burial transit permit from the funeral home. It’s also a good idea to have the death registration and death certificate with you as well.
If someone is going to pick up the remains at the funeral home and fly back with them there are a few things to know. The remains can be stored in carry-on or checked baggage, but carry-on is the better option. You’ll also need to pack the burial transit permit, death certificate and death registration.
The urn makes a big difference. The urn can’t be made of metal, ceramic or heavy material. TSA-friendly urns are usually wood or plastic. Check with your funeral home to see if they offer urns that are certified as TSA-friendly so there’s one less thing to worry about.
Always call the airline ahead of time before flying with cremated remains. Each company sets their own regulations for the transit of cremated remains that you’ll want to know in advance.
Cremated remains can be shipped by using USPS Priority Mail Express if you aren’t able to go to the crematorium in-person. The funeral home should know the proper way to pack and label the package so that it arrives safely. The service is generally $100-$250 through the funeral home. If you mail it yourself you can expect to pay around $100, possibly more depending on the urn.
At Green Cremation Texas our team will work with hospital staff, medical examiner’s offices, city morgues and nursing facilities in-state or out-of-state to arrange transport. If you need our expert assistance please call, email or text us anytime. We’re here for you when you need answers about green cremation services.
*Stanford School of Medicine – Where Do Americans Die?