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Recently our beloved father passed away in the USA. We have already performed his cremation, and now we are planning to take the cremated remains to India. We don't know anything regarding the procedure.

Can we carry cremated remains while we travel to India?

What are the rules and regulations we must follow?

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    My deepest condolences on your loss. – Burhan Khalid Feb 6 '17 at 7:27
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    Yes, but if TSA sees an opaque image, or finds out its human remains, they might need to kiss the box goodbye. – DavChana Feb 6 '17 at 15:28
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    If you decide to carry the remains in the cabin in the US, tell TSA when you arrive for screening. They may pull you aside, but they should be very respectful. Make sure you have paperwork from the funeral home/crematorium. Personal experience carrying my father's ashes/urn cross-country. – mkennedy Feb 6 '17 at 19:28
  • @DavChana "they might need to kiss the box goodbye" .. that's untrue. – tedder42 Feb 9 '17 at 18:04
  • @tedder42 it was in reply to another comment where it said they can just try to wing it or something. – DavChana Feb 9 '17 at 22:50
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Can we carry cremated remain ashes while we travel to India? what are the rules and regulations we must follow?

Yes, you can carry and travel with cremated remains from USA to India. You are supposed to meet TSA requirement, Airline policy and Indian embassy/consulate requirement.

Tsa Regulations

From the My TSA, you can carry cremated remains and there is an advice to check with your airline if you are allowed cremated remains as checked baggage or carry on bag. Further cremated remains should be transported in a lightweight container made of wood or plastic. please see the following guideline:

"Under no circumstances will a Transportation Security Officer (TSO) open a crematory container. To facilitate screening, we suggest that you purchase a temporary or permanent crematory container made of a lighter weight material, such as wood or plastic. If the container is made of a material that generates an opaque image, the TSO will not be able to clearly determine what is inside the container and the container will not be permitted.

Even if an item is generally permitted, it may be subject to additional screening or not allowed through the checkpoint if it triggers an alarm during the screening process, appears to have been tampered with, or poses other security concerns. The final decision rests with TSA on whether to allow any items on the plane."

Airline Policy

Cremated human remains from Qatar Airways:

Cremated human remains shall be accepted for carriage as checked baggage, provided that the passenger is in possession of all necessary documentation, including a certified copy of a death certificate, and the casket or urn containing the cremated remains is packed in a sealed outer box or case.

Cremated human remains can be accepted for carriage in the passenger cabin provided the state of origin does not classify it as restricted.

Indian Embassy/Consulate Requirement

From the official Consulate General Of India, you must meet all the following requirements:

Carrying of ashes of the deceased to India

Airport Health Organisation under Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India has notified that for obtaining public health clearance of dead bodies and cremated remains transported by international airlines at Indian airports, as per the The Aircraft (Public Health) Rules, 1954, the following needs to be observed:

  • The consignee as well as the air transport service shall give to the Health Officer of the airport of arrival advance intimation of at least 48 hours, of the importation of the dead body or human remains or ashes of the cremated bodies.
  • There should be a proper death certificate issued by a Medical Officer in English or translated into English in respect of the dead body. As per International health regulations of WHO, Death Certificate should be in English or French only. The translation of death certificate sometimes causes undue delay and frustration among the attendants.
  • The death certificate showing cause of death as pending or mentioned as cause of death to be ascertained after postmortem or cause of death unknown or as natural death shall render the Death Certificate as invalid and the dead body/human remain shall not be granted NOC by Health Officer of the airport. Embalming Certificate should be enclosed.
  • The NOC should be obtained from Indian Embassy/Consulate of the country from where body is transported.
  • As per the Provisions of The Aircraft (Public Health) Rules, 1954 Part IV Rule No.41 no person shall bring into India any dead-body or human remains of persons who may have died of yellow fever, plague, anthrax, glanders or any other diseases as may be notified by the Government of India for this purpose. Provided that nothing in this rule shall apply to properly cremated ashes of dead bodies or human remains.
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    It's weird how you need to permission to bring in a bit of ash into a country... – JonathanReez Feb 6 '17 at 13:04
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    That can be scary if it turns out to be some radioactive ash. – vasin1987 Feb 6 '17 at 17:10
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    just to point out this can go very wrong. I might be too negative but I wouldn't let the TSA anywhere near the remains if possible. Saying they are a bunch of nitwits is being nice. – DRF Feb 6 '17 at 21:45
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    How exactly do you give 48hr advance notice to the arrival airport's Health Officer? Who do you email/phone/fax? Or is the airline supposed to do it for you? – smci Feb 7 '17 at 13:51
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I would like to share my last year experience from San Francisco to New Delhi on Air India direct flight. My wife passed away last year and I also carried the cremated remains in my hand luggage.

I needed to get attested documents from Consulate General Of India San Francisco. This is the website: Consulate General Of India San Francisco

I just followed all the requirements and good news was I applied through mail, didn't need to go in person although you can apply in person as well. It took only 4 days to get all the supporting documents from the Indian Consulate.

Finally, we carried cremated remains in our hand luggage. So basically depending on your residence in USA, you may be able to get all your documents through courier.

Another option is you can cargo the cremated remains through different airlines as well.

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A google search Human Ash Qatar Airways unearths this first result

They can carry humain remains as shipment and/or checked luggage and/or cabin luggage, depending upon type of remains, and will need a copy of death certificate, NOC from Indian Embassy in USA, Cremation Certificate (or embalming/coffin/relevant certificate), accompanying passenger bookings and few others.

Relevant Quote from above Qatar Airways Page:

Cremated human remains

Cremated human remains shall be accepted for carriage as checked baggage, provided that the passenger is in possession of all necessary documentation, including a certified copy of a death certificate, and the casket or urn containing the cremated remains is packed in a sealed outer box or case.

Cremated human remains can be accepted for carriage in the passenger cabin provided the state of origin does not classify it as restricted.

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