STS Quarterly Issue 10: July 2020

Shipping or Receiving Human Remains? Expect Delays.

Over the last three months, best practices for shipping and receiving of human remains have evolved rapidly. Regulations from the local to international level have been in a constant state of flux as new information regarding COVID-19 has become available.

In light of this, how should you plan to conduct a transfer and make arrangements? Slowly and flexibly.

The teams at Inman Shipping Worldwide and Eagle’s Wings Air (EWA) are advising funeral homes to not set any type of service until remains have safely arrived, whether a standard ship out for the return of a loved one for ceremony, or the shipment of cremated remains.

Families may be disappointed right now, but set appropriate expectations that due to COVID-19, shipments may take much longer than in the past. The hold-up could be a delay obtaining a burial transit permit or death certificate, or the limited number of flights airlines presently have available.

There are many states where shipments cannot take place without certain documents provided by the local Board of Health. While some communities have not seen high numbers of COVID cases, others have seen their health departments nearly shut down.

Along with disclosing to EWA or an airline if remains are embalmed or unembalmed, the funeral home must also notify the airline if the decedent is Covid-19 positive. Certain airlines are requiring COVID-positive decedents to be placed in a pouch or body bag during transportation.

These regulations have been changing frequently, so be sure to inform EWA or the airline if a decedent is COVID-positive so that your funeral home can best prepare and avoid unexpected hold ups when dropping off a decedent.

Be on the lookout for guidelines to continue to change, so that you as the shipping or receiving funeral home are ready with the latest inform.