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What to Do if a Loved One Dies While Out of Town

Published: January 17, 2023

It is almost always challenging to make arrangements following the death of a loved one, but the arrangements can become even more complicated when they happen while the person is out of town, let alone out of the state or country. Here, the team at Evans Funeral Chapel & Cremation Services answers a few questions you may have about the process and outline what to do if a loved one dies while out of town.

How Do I Arrange the Transfer of the Body?

The process of transferring human remains varies depending on if you are transferring cremated remains or a non-cremated body. Cremated remains may be transferred by car, train, airplane, and even by mail. This option can be the most cost and time efficient as a friend or family member may be able to travel to the funeral home handling the cremation and pick up the remains. Transferring a non-cremated body requires a little more work and is often much more expensive, however, both ground and air transportation are possible.

Cremations, transfers, and the release of the body may all be handled by a funeral home in the location of the death so the very first step you will need to take is contacting a local funeral home. They will be able to guide you through local regulations and arrange the cremation and/or transfer, whether that be by ground or air. If you plan to arrange the transfer of a non-cremated body you will also need to contact a local funeral home to receive the remains.

Can I Transport the Body Myself?

It depends. Rules and regulations regarding the transfer of human remains differ from state to state and can vary even more by country. While transporting cremated remains yourself is almost always possible and not all that complicated, transporting a non-cremated body can be quite difficult. In addition to properly sealing the body in the right kind of shipping container, states and countries may have varied rules regarding when embalming is required and other ways the body must be prepared for transport. The funeral home that receives and processes the body following death will be the most knowledgeable contact about what is and isn’t allowed.

How Expensive Is It?

Costs vary widely depending on if you choose to transport cremated remains or a non-cremated body. Distance, the shipping method you choose, and even the weight of the container may impact the cost.

Three Steps to Take When a Loved One Dies Away From Home

While there are a number of arrangements that will be specific to the wishes of the loved one who passed, there are some common steps you will want to take when a loved one dies away from home. Keep these tips in mind to make sure the process runs smoothly:

- Cremate before transfer. If cremation is an option, consider having your loved ones' remains cremated where they are to make transporting the remains as easy as possible.

- Obtain a burial transfer permit, if necessary. If you've planned for a burial, immediately start researching laws and regulations related to the transfer of human remains across state or international borders. While one state may allow human remains to be transported in a car by a funeral home, another may require their transfer to be initiated by specific agencies, such as police, or require additional permitting or paperwork. The funeral home that is handling the remains should provide insight into what is needed.

- Initiate the paperwork. If your loved one died while in another country, initiate the process of getting paperwork and certificates from local agencies to release the body to your country of residence by contacting a local funeral home.

Contact Evans Funeral Chapel to Get Help if a Loved One Dies While Out of Town

When it comes to complicated situations following the death of a loved one while in another town, state, or country, the team at Evans Funeral Chapel & Cremation Services is here to help. To learn more about what to do if a loved one dies while out of town, contact a member of our team today.

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