When someone dies and their wish is to be buried or cremated in another country, grieving family members are left with the daunting task of figuring out how to transport the remains of their loved ones. This can be even more stressful when the death is unexpected.
While most major airlines facilitate the transportation of human bodies or ashes by air cargo, it is not as simple as it sounds. The whole process can be complicated and expensive, so seeking assistance from a professional repatriation company is advisable.
Professional repatriation companies have the expertise to ensure that the entire experience is smooth and easy, as they lead you through the process. They can help obtain and translate death certificates, liaise with government departments and embassies, and coordinate with airlines. These companies usually have pre-existing relationships with airlines as “known shippers” and therefore can make the necessary arrangements to securely transport the deceased with dignity. They can also deal with all compliance issues that may arise, and preparing the paperwork required by both the country of departure and the country of arrival.
The costs of transporting the body of a deceased varies depending on the airline carrier, travel distance, and weight among other factors. While domestic transportation can start at $3000, international transportation of a body can range from $10,000 to $20,000 on average. Transporting cremated ashes has lower compliance requirements and can be a less expensive option to consider.
Most major airlines also offer discounted fares for family members travelling as a result of a bereavement. While each airline has its own eligibility, Air Canada has a broad definition of immediate family which includes:
- child and grandchild
- parent and grandparent
- legal guardian or spouse of legal guardian
The categories include step, half, in-law, and common-law relatives that would fall under each of these classifications. Same-sex partners and in-laws of such are also included.
For more information, it would be best to contact airlines directly or get in touch with a professional repatriation company so they can further guide you in this process.
Thanks for reading, and have a great day,
Suzana Popovic-Montag & Ekroop Sekhon