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Travelling With Ashes On An Airplane

If you follow a few simple guidelines you should be able to take cremated remains ‘ashes’ on a plane.  Take into consideration that there may be specific regulations that differ from airline to airline so the first step should be to contact the airline that you are using and ask about their policies.

What To Expect

Not all airlines allow cremated remains to travel as checked baggage so plan on them being part of your carry on. Passengers going through pre-board screening with a cremation container will be asked to place it in a specially designed bin so that it can be screened using x-ray technology.

Sealed Container

When travelling with cremated remains, the ashes need to be in a sealed container – preferably one of light weight material.

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The urn must be able to pass through the baggage screening machines at airport security.  If a cremation container does not pass the x-ray inspection, screening officers are not permitted to open the urn and visually inspect the contents.

Materials that may prevent the scanner from seeing inside are:

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If you have fallen in love with an urn that is not going to be acceptable for this x-ray process, consider bringing your empty urn with you and transfer the ashes after you have reached your destination. You could do this yourself or arrange with a funeral home to have an employee do the transfer for you.

If your cremation container is empty, you can inform the screening officer and open it yourself and show him or her there is nothing inside.

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A Death Certificate is usually not required for flying within Canada but a Certificate of Cremation would be a great document to have with you.  All crematoriums provide this certificate when they release the ashes to you. However, for international travel, you must ensure that you have obtained all documentation and certificates that may be required when travelling to or through another country.

International Flights

There is no blanket answer to what paperwork is required on international flights. The reason being that airline rules can vary and different countries have their own regulations

Each country has its own set of rules to which you must adhere. When traveling internationally it would be best to give yourself enough time to plan and research. One of your first actions should be to contact the embassy of the destination country to ensure they accept cremated remains. The funeral home staff should be able to help you with this.

I would most certainly expect that you will need both a Certificate of Cremation and a Death Certificate.  A worthwhile question to ask is whether or not the documents need to be original or would certified copies suffice.

Looking for more information?

You can visit or call 1 800 O-Canada for more information.