How to transport the deceased person's body from Russia by air

What to do if you need to bring the body of the deceased from Russia to another country? First, you need to decide how to transport the remains: a coffin or an urn. If acceptable, it is always better to transport ashes, which is faster, easier, and way cheaper. It is also preferable to transport the remains by air. In this article, we will review how to arrange the ashes transportation by air from Russia to another country.

What you need to bring the ashes outside the Russian Federation

  • Find out the ashes import requirements in the destination country.
  • Collect the documents required to transport the ashes.
  • Sign a contract with the airline.

Ashes import requirements

Ashes import rules differ from country to country.

Make sure you check these rules and the exact list of documents at the embassy (consulate) of the destination country. Depending on the particular country's requirements, some additional steps may be needed.

For example, to send the ashes to Germany, you must have a preliminary agreement with the cemetery where the remains are to be buried.

You can get free advice on ashes transportation to different countries on Ritual.ru hotline.

Documents for bringing the ashes outside Russia

The specific document package depends on the country where you are sending the urn.

The most common documents are listed below:

Document Where to get
Death certificate Registrar office or Municipal services center
Medical certificate of the cause of death Morgue
Certificate of sealing and no unauthorized contents; Crematorium / funeral home
Certificate of no contagious diseases in the deceased Sanitary and Epidemiological Service (SES)
Remains import  permit Embassy or consulate of the destination country

Note! Remains import permit from the embassy (consulate) is an especially important item in this list. Not every country requires it, but remember it is mandatory in the USA, Canada and the EU countries. To get this permit, you'll be asked to provide some papers that are not required for shipment itself.

Typically, these are the following:

  • Death certificate (original and notarized translation);
  • Deceased person's passport (original and notarized copy);
  • Export permit for the body or the ashes from the competent Russian authority

You can collect all the documents without assistance. It usually takes 3-7 days.

Ritual.ru will help you collect all the documents required to get the consular permit, and to transport the remains within 2-3 business days.

Requirements for bringing the remains from Russia by air

  1. The container with ashes must be packed to avoid any damage during transportation. To do this, have the container wrapped in thick soft fabric and place it in a strong wooden (or similar) box.
    Tip: bubble-wrap is well-suited for packaging. A suitable box can be purchased at funeral stores.
  2. The cinerary urn should be transparent to X-rays. The airport security services and the airline should be able to see inside the urn in order to check its contents. Many metal or stone urns interfere with X-rays, which does not allow to see the contents clearly.
    Airport staff are normally not allowed to open the cinerary urn. So if the urn can't be X-rayed, they will just remove it from the flight.
  3. An attendant is required.
    The attendant checks in the urn as the luggage and later collects it upon arrival. They will need a full ticket, which makes ashes transportation more expensive.

The cinerary urn may be attended by someone from the family or by a funeral house official representative.

Check with the selected carrier if an attendant is required to transport a cinerary urn.

Note! On international flights, baggage always undergoes several stages of screening including being X-rayed! If the container fails to pass these checks, it will be removed from the flight. Airlines are not responsible for screening and do not compensate for the associated costs.

Is it possible to carry the ashes abroad in hand luggage

It all depends on the particular airline and the laws of the destination country.

Most Russian airlines only allow ashes in the luggage compartment.

Some foreign carriers allow ashes as hand luggage as well.

Examples of airlines that allow ashes as hand luggage:

  • Ryanair
  • Delta airlines
  • United airlines

Some airlines also offer special rates for ashes transportation and attendant tickets. Example: Lufthansa. Ask if any special rates apply, ask to see/photograph the documents governing ashes transportation and attendance. It is your absolutely legal right to do so as a customer.

Make sure you check the current applicable transportation rates and rules on the carrier's hotline or from a carrier representative — these rates and rules may change.

Do I need to inform the airline that I am going to bring a cinerary urn?

Absolutely! Ashes transportation across the border requires mandatory customs declaration and prior agreement with the airline. Attempting to circumvent these requirements you may end up being removed from the flight and facing serious problems with the law.

How to fill out a customs declaration for exporting and importing ashes

Declaration rules depend on the destination country. Filling out declaration form takes time: make sure you arrive at the airport in advance. A qualified employee Ritual.ru will help you fill in the declaration. Sometimes this service is provided by the carrier.

The cost of taking the ashes abroad

The cost varies greatly depending on the distance, so it is impossible to specify a kind of total or an average amount. The cost is made up by the following:

  • Carrier rates
  • Route and distance
  • Cargo weight
  • Aircraft type

What not to do when transporting ashes by air

Never try to smuggle the ashes on improperly, and/or without declaration. Any luggage and carry-on baggage passes several checks, and the airline or the airport staff will certainly notice an unusual object. In this case, the passenger or the baggage is usually removed from the flight without any refund.

Do not try to disguise the ashes. In many countries including the Russian Federation, the law strictly regulates remains handling and transportation rules.

Violation of these rules may lead to criminal persecution (e.g., under Article 244 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). Airport security personnel always pay a particularly close attention to all the objects that look more or less strange or unusual.

Useful links on

  • TSA - Transport Security Administration
    The US Transportation Security Administration – import, export, and domestic transportation rules for goods and people applicable in the United States
    Website: www.tsa.gov

  • EASA – European Union Aviation Safety Agency
    The European Union Aviation Safety Agency – the general rules of import, export, and domestic transportation of goods and people by air applicable in the EU
    Website: www.easa.europa.eu

  • EC: TS – European Commission: Transport safety
    The European Commission, transport security issues – security policies and regulations for goods import, export, and transportation in the EU.
    Information about banned airlines and airlines with restricted rights to certain shipments.
    Website: ec.europa.eu

  • State services
    Portal for public services of the Russian Federation. Here you can find how to get many of the documents required for arranging the transportation of a cinerary urn.
    Website: www.gosuslugi.ru

Ritual.ru – We assist in transporting the ashes by air

With our vast experience, knowledge, resources, and status of the official state funeral service Ritual.ru can quickly and inexpensively ship the ashes to anywhere in Russia or across the globe. Call Ritual.ru hot line +7 (495) 100-3-100 to arrange ashes transportation by air.

21 may 2019

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