How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Body?

Written by: Staff

Shipping a deceased body is one of the many things that may need to be done after the death of a family member or loved one.  If the person who passed away did so in a different area than where the funeral will take place, the body may need to be shipped to the city where the funeral will be held.  When shipping a body, there are a lot of documents that must be processed and requirements that must be met.

A body can be shipped in many different ways.  For example, the body can be transported before or after it has been prepared for the funeral.  It could also be shipped after the funeral to a burial site out of town.  If the body has been cremated, there are specific regulations that must be followed to ship the remains.  All of these shipping methods can be done via ground or air transportation methods.

N461UA United Airlines 2000 Airbus A320- by TDelCoro, on Flickr
N461UA United Airlines 2000 Airbus A320-” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by TDelCoro

How much does it cost to ship a deceased body?

Overall, shipping a deceased body can cost from $1,500 to $10,000.  The costs, like traveling or shipping anything else, will depend on the distance, how the body is being shipped and the company you use.  Because of this variation, a short 500-mile trip via the air may cost $2,000 while a trip across the globe can cost as much as $10,000.  If staying within the United States, however, the costs should never be more than $5,000.  Usually, when the costs exceed $5,000, it will often be seen on flying internationally.

Keep in mind that when you transport a body, you’re essentially working with two funeral homes.  One funeral home will have to pick up the body, prepare it for shipping and ship it to the destination, whereas on the other end, the funeral home you plan on using for the service will pick up the body and prepare it for the showing.  Essentially, you will have to pay one funeral home in one location before shipping and another once the body lands.  Plus, you will have to pay for the transportation service.

In total, plan on spending about $1,000 to $2,500 for the first funeral home and another $700 to $2,500 to the next funeral home. says the cost of shipping a body will depend on the weight of the shipment, the distance being travel, and if the shipping container is shipped separately, this will need to be factored in as well.  The fee of forwarding the remains to another funeral home, depending on these factors, can be $1,000 to $3,000.  The fee for receiving the remains will be another $800 to $2,500.  This won’t include the funeral costs.

On one forum thread on, a member asked what it would charge to ship a body from one state to another.  A funeral director, who owned a hotel, said they would charge $1,895, in addition to the taxes and combo.  Remember, this would be the costs on one end and wouldn’t include the retrieval costs on the other end.  Another member on this same forum said they had paid $2,500.

Factors that affect the price:

The distance traveled will, almost always, be the largest factor in determining the price for ground transportation.

The weight, like any other package being shipped, can affect the costs.

The choice of transportation being used to ship the remains.  An airline will always be more than traveling via ground.

The funeral homes you are working with on both ends.

Shipping a body overview

With the estimates mentioned above, it should include the airfare and other arrangements such as removal from the place of death, embalming, and a shipping container transfer to the local airport.  Be aware that some states require the body is embalmed before it’s even able to leave the state, and the same can be said about a state that’s about to receive the body.  Embalming alone can cost $450 to $800.

Working with a funeral home, the director will make arrangements with an airline, which is usually a cargo plane carrier, and depending on where the body is, it will be prepared and sent to the airport and collected by a funeral home representative upon landing.  As a passenger, you also have the right to escort the body on a passenger plan that you are traveling on.

To start the process, talk to the funeral home you plan on using.  They should be able to guide you along the way, helping you find a funeral home where the body is and help connect you with a transportation method.

What are the extra costs?

Permits, embalming, prep work, the shipping container and paperwork can incur additional costs that can be more than $3,000.  Some quotes may include all of these additional costs, whereas others may charge an additional fee.

Some funeral home directors, depending on the distance to the airport, may charge a mileage surcharge if they have to travel further than a certain distance.  For example, one funeral home we looked at charged $1.40 per mile if they had to travel more than 25 miles.

Cremating the body before shipping can cost as much as $1,000 depending on the state/country of death.

Unless part of the quote, which is rare, the funeral services will more than likely be separate.

Tips to know:

In some states, you may be able to ship the body via a car on your own; however, in some states, you may need a licensed funeral director.  If you plan on going this route, check with the states you plan on going through to see what the laws are.

How can I save money?

It is best to talk with at least two to three funeral homes and shop around.  By doing so, you should be able to get a few quotes over the phone as long as you have the information provided such as the origin and destination.  Start with the American Association of Mortuary Shippers to get more information.

Many local funeral homes have connections with airlines.  Be sure to ask them how the process works and what will be included.

If the transportation costs seem to be too high and you feel you can’t afford it, a funeral home in the originating destination may be able to work with you by cremating the remains if this was the initial intention.  By cremating, this can greatly decrease the costs as it can be shipped via the mail instead of an airline.

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