international remains transport

The death of a loved one is always a heartbreaking and overwhelming experience, even more so if they passed away in another country. The complexity of international remains transport can make this difficult time more stressful. Shipping human remains from one country to another involves navigating a complex web of legal requirements, documentation and logistics. Every situation is unique, and working with a reputable funeral home with experience in global burial shipping can help you navigate the process. Understanding the critical aspects of transporting remains worldwide, including legal requirements and documentation, can help you bring your loved one home.

Legal Requirements for Human Remains Transportation

One of the most critical aspects of international funeral transport is understanding and complying with the legal requirements of the countries involved. Each country has its own shipping rules for the deceased that you must carefully follow. Human remains transport laws are in place to protect public health and ensure the dignity of the deceased. Failure to comply with these rules can result in delays or even the refusal of the remains at the destination country.

International shipping rules for the deceased are governed by organizations such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the World Health Organization (WHO). These organizations set standards for the safe and respectful transport of human remains across borders. However, each country may have additional requirements that must be met.

It is essential to research international human remains transport laws and the specific legal requirements for the countries involved in your loved one’s international remains transport. These requirements include those of the country where the death occurred, any transit countries and the final destination country.

Documentation Needed for Shipping Human Remains Internationally

When transporting remains worldwide, you must have several documents to comply with international regulations, avoid delays and ensure smooth transport. Missing or incomplete documents can result in the remains being held up in customs or even refused entry into the destination country. The specific documents needed may vary depending on the countries involved, but the following are generally required:

Death Certificatedeath certificate

You must have an original or certified copy of the death certificate stating the deceased’s full name, date and place of death and cause of death. The death certificate is typically issued by the local authorities where the death occurred.

Embalming Certificate

This document certifies that the body has been properly embalmed and prepared for international transport. Embalming is usually required for international remains transport to ensure the preservation and safety of the remains during transit. A licensed embalmer must issue an embalming certificate that meets the destination country’s requirements.

Transit Permit

The local authorities issue this permit. It grants permission for the remains to leave the country. The transit permit ensures that the remains are transported legally and with proper authorization.

Other Documents

When shipping human remains internationally, you may require other documents depending on the country of origin, countries of transit and the final destination country. These documents may include:

  • Apostilles: Special certificates that authenticate the seals and signatures on official documents for use in another country
  • Consular mortuary certificates: Issued by the consulate of the destination country and certify that the remains have been properly prepared for transport
  • Non-contagious disease certificates: Confirm that the deceased did not have any infectious diseases that could pose a public health risk during transport

Shipping Human Remains to Different Countries

To help you understand international remains transport, let’s dive into shipping human remains to specific countries.

Dominican Republic

Shipping human remains to the Dominican Republic requires an original death certificate, an embalming certificate and a transit permit. You also need a notarized Spanish translation of the death certificate. The Dominican consulate must issue a consular mortuary certificate for the remains to enter the country. The Dominican Republic also requires a notarized letter from the next of kin authorizing the transport of the remains and a non-contagious disease certificate. These documents must be in Spanish and notarized by a Dominican notary.


Shipping remains to Guatemala requires an apostilled death certificate and apostilled Spanish translations of the death certificate and embalming certificate. You also need a Guatemalan consular mortuary certificate. Guatemala also requires a letter from the next of kin authorizing the transport of the remains. A Guatemalan notary must translate the letter to Spanish and notarize it. A Guatemalan ID card or passport may also be required if the deceased had Guatemalan citizenship. You are also required to have a non-contagious disease certificate.


For human remains transport to Mexico, the death certificate and embalming certificate must be apostilled with Spanish translations provided by the Mexican consulate. A transit permit is required from the country of origin, and the Mexican consulate will issue a consular mortuary certificate. Mexico also requires a notarized letter from the next of kin authorizing the transport of the remains. This letter must be in Spanish and notarized by a Mexican notary. A Mexican visa and digital signatures will also be required.

Preparing Human Remains for International Transport

Proper body preparation is critical for safe and dignified international remains transport. Embalming is required to preserve the body during transit. It must be performed by a licensed embalmer using approved chemicals and techniques. The specific embalming requirements may vary depending on the countries involved and the transport length.

The body must then be placed in an approved container, typically a hermetically sealed casket, which is placed in a sturdy outer shipping container. These containers must meet strict airline and consulate regulations to ensure the safety and dignity of the deceased during transport.

Common Challenges in Shipping Human Remains

Transporting remains worldwide can be a complex process with many potential obstacles, including:

  • Navigating customs and international laws: Each country has its regulations and requirements for human remains transport, which can be challenging to navigate without expert guidance.
  • Dealing with unexpected delays: Even with careful planning, unforeseen delays can occur due to documentation issues, custom holds or airline disruptions. These delays can be emotionally and logistically challenging for families.
  • Language barriers: When shipping human remains internationally, language barriers can complicate communication with foreign authorities and consulates, leading to misunderstandings and delays.
  • Cultural differences: Funeral customs and traditions vary widely around the world, and it’s essential to be sensitive to these differences when transporting remains worldwide.
  • Emotional stress: The process of international remains transport can be emotionally overwhelming for families already grieving the loss of a loved one. The added stress of navigating complex legal requirements and logistics can be challenging.

Trust Joseph A. Lucchese Funeral Home for International Remains Transport

trust Joseph A. Lucchese Funeral Home

Shipping human remains internationally is complex and emotionally challenging, but you don’t have to navigate it alone. Joseph A. Lucchese Funeral Home is here to guide you through every step of the process with compassion and expertise. We understand the immense stress and grief you are experiencing, and we are committed to providing the support and guidance you need during this difficult time.

Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you lay your loved one to rest according to their wishes.