Shipping Cremated Remains with USPS: A Comprehensive Guide

This guide provides detailed instructions and requirements for shipping cremated remains.
Blog cover

Last update:

June 22, 2023

USPS Cremated Remains is a service provided by the United States Postal Service® (USPS) that allows the mailing of human or animal cremated remains to a desired destination. This service includes tracking and insurance to ensure the safe delivery of the cremated remains. 

You may be reading this page because:

  • You need to ship the cremated remains of someone you know or a pet to someone in the United States or another country.
  • You and your family have chosen to distribute the cremated remains of a loved one among family members elsewhere within the United States or in another country.
  • You send the cremated remains to a crafter to manufacture the remains into artwork that can be kept forever.

The USPS Cremated Remains mail service has specific requirements for preparing, packaging, and shipping human or animal cremated remains to provide safe transportation. ShipSaving is here to help you understand how to meet these requirements and take steps to protect this special mailing. 

What do you need to know before shipping Cremated Remains?

According to US federal law, only the United States Postal Service (USPS) is authorized to ship cremated remains. Private shipping companies are not allowed to transport or mail human cremated remains, as federal law mandates that cremated remains must be sent using USPS' cremated remains shipping service. 

USPS provides customized cremated remains containers and shipping options to ensure the remains are handled appropriately and delivered securely during shipping. If you need to ship cremated remains, please use USPS' Priority Mail Express®- Cremated Remains shipping service and carefully review its services and restrictions to ensure that your shipping process goes smoothly and complies with legal requirements.

How to package and ship Cremated Remains?

You will need a primary inner sift-proof container, cushioning material, and an outer shipping package. 

USPS noticed that a sift-proof container is any vessel that does not allow loose powder to leak or sift out. Many options are available to store cremated remains — from simple wooden boxes to decorative urns. 

  •  Primary Inner Container

The primary inner container must be strong, durable, and constructed in such a manner as to protect and securely contain the contents inside. In addition, it must be properly sealed and sift-proof.

  • Seal and Address the Inner Primary Container 

If the shipping label detaches from the outer container, the Postal Service™ recommends putting the sift-proof container in a sealed plastic bag. Then, attach a label with the complete return address and delivery address on the sealed plastic bag and the wording “Cremated Remains.”

  • Cushioning Material 

Place sufficient cushioning all around the inner primary sift-proof container to prevent it from shifting inside the outer shipping package during transit and to absorb any shock to prevent breakage. 

  • Outer Shipping Package 

Cremated remains must be shipped by USPS Priority Mail Express or Priority Mail Express International Service utilizing a USPS-produced or customer-supplied shipping package. If using a customer-supplied shipping package, it must be strong and durable to withstand transportation handling.

For convenience, the Postal Service has a Priority Mail Express Cremated Remains box that may be used for domestic or international shipments using the applicable Priority Mail Express service. 

Packing Steps

When shipping cremated remains through USPS, it is essential to package them securely to ensure safe and respectful delivery. Here are the steps to package and ship cremated remains:

Choose a sturdy and sealed container: The cremated remains must be placed in a durable container that meets USPS' packaging requirements. You can purchase a cremation container from a funeral home or online retailer.

Place the container in a shipping box: The cremation container should be in a sturdy shipping box. ShipSaving recommended using a shipping box designed for cremated remains to ensure safe handling.

Add cushioning material: Fill the shipping box with cushioning material, such as bubble wrap or packing peanuts, to prevent movement and provide additional protection.

Seal the shipping box: Seal the shipping box with strong packing tape, reinforcing all seams and edges.

Label the shipping box: Label the "Cremated Remains" sticker on the outside of the box in a visible location.

Ship the package: Shipping labels can be purchased directly from USPS or through ShipSaving for discounted Priority Mail Express shipping labels. Take the package to a USPS facility or schedule a pickup for the package to be collected from your location. 

Following USPS' packaging and shipping requirements is essential to ensure that cremated remains are shipped safely and respectfully. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact USPS for assistance.

One more thing needs to be noticed, before closing and sealing the shipping package, the Postal Service recommends adding a slip of paper with both the sender's and recipient's address and contact information inside the package. This extra step will help identify the sender and receiver if the shipping label becomes detached.

Where can I purchase a Cremated Remains Kit?

The Cremated Remains Kits can be ordered free of charge from the Postal Store on Unfortunately, the Cremated Remains Kit is unavailable from a local post office.

What will be included in the Cremated Remains Kits?

Cremated Remains Kit 1

  • A sturdy box 14-3/4"(L) x 10-1/4"(W) x 10"(H)
  • A roll of Priority Mail Express packing tape
Cremated Remains Kit 1

Cremated Remains Kit 2

  • A sturdy box 14-3/4"(L) x 10-1/4"(W) x 10"(H)
  • A roll of Priority Mail Express packing tape
  • Bubble Cushioning
  • A self-sealing plastic bag
Cremated Remains Kit 2

Can Cremated Remains to be shipped internationally?

Cremated remains are permitted to be mailed to an international address when the designating country does not prohibit the contents and when Priority Mail Express International service is available to that country. You can verify this by checking the Individual Country Listing in the Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, International Mail Manual.

A complete return address and delivery address must be used. In addition, the mailer must indicate the identity of the contents (Cremated Remains) on the required applicable customs declaration form. To determine the applicable required customs form, see IMM Section 123.61.

How should Cremated Remains be mailed?

Cremated Remains may only be shipped using Priority Mail Express® and Priority Mail Express International® service for sending Cremated Remains domestically and internationally. USPS also requires that use of Label 139 on all shipped Cremated Remains if you do not use the unique Priority Mail Express cremated remains branded box (domestic or international)

What is Label 139?

Label 139 is a label the United States Postal Service (USPS) uses for shipping cremated remains. 

The label is used to identify the contents of a package as containing cremated remains and must be affixed to the outside of the shipping box or container. 

Also, it must be affixed to each side (including the top and bottom) of a mailpiece containing cremated remains.

Label 139 features the words "Cremated Remains"

Does Cremated Remains have to be shipped using a Priority Mail Express box or the Cremated Remains Kit? 

Cremated remains do not have to be shipped using a Priority Mail Express box or the Cremated Remains Kit provided by USPS. While USPS offers these specific options for shipping cremated remains, they can also be shipped using any sturdy and sealed container that meets USPS' packaging requirements.

Are extra dose services available for Cremated Remains package?

Yes. Extra services such as Return Receipt, Insurance, Signature Required, and Signature Waived are available for mailing Cremated Remains.

Final Words

Overall, USPS cremated remains mail service provides a convenient and reliable way for family members to safely mail the cremated remains of a loved one to their desired destination. For more details, please refer to the USPS Organization Information or contact your local post office. 

Written on:

May 10, 2023
< Back to Blog Main Page