What do you need to know about transporting the deceased?
Transporting the deceased across Canada, and even repatriating remains from outside Canada, is a growing concern in the funeral industry. As more and more people move around the provinces, or indeed retire or relocate outside of Canada; so funeral homes and families are faced with the issue of bringing their lost loved ones back home.
We have a growing older population, and an increasing ‘Baby Boomer’ generation, many of which choose to ‘snow-bird’ winters outside of Canada. These factors alone mean that there is a rise in the need for the long-haul transportation of human remains within Canada and North America.
So what happens if you are faced with the death of a family member and need to return their body, or ashes, back home to family in order to conduct a funeral? Human remains can be transported by air cargo by most of the major airlines in Canada.
What happens when a Canadian citizen passes away overseas? How do I return their remains home?
The official term for returning a deceased Canadian citizen back to their country and province is referred to as ‘repatriation’. It can be a complicated and expensive process, especially if the death was sudden and/or unexpected. You will need the services of a professional mortuary repatriation company.
One of the first things you can do is contact the Canadian Embassy or Consulate where the deceased passed away. They have protocols in place to manage the death of Canadian Nationals overseas. They can also sometimes help you locate a reputable funeral home where the deceased passed away. Although, it is still important to check out alternative funeral shipping services. Sometimes the first option available is not always to best or most cost-effective!
Working with a funeral shipping agent at the place of death and a receiving funeral home in Canada, you can make arrangements to have your loved one transported back to Canada. When human remains are transported through a Canadian Port of Entry (POE), the death certificate must be produced. Ideally, the death certificate should be in English or French (although not mandatory) but the funeral shipping agent overseas should be able to assist if a translation of documents is required.
Alternatively, it may be easier and much less expensive to coordinate a cremation at the place of death and have the cremated remains repatriated to Canada. The cost to arrange a simple cremation overseas is likely to be in the region of $3,000.
What does it cost to ship a dead body back to Canada?
The truth is it can work out pretty expensive. International funeral shipping fees can cost upwards of $10,000. And in all reality, the average price for shipping remains internationally is in the region of $15,000 – $20,000. This can make whole-body repatriation such an expensive option, that families may not be able to afford it.
Our funeral shipping professionals in Canada offer some of the most affordable repatriation services. From Vancouver, domestic transportation services start at $2,600 (+airfare charge) and International funeral ship-outs start at $5,000. Funeral shipping out of Ontario starts at $5,000. Call on the toll-free numbers above to get a detailed quote for your funeral shipping needs now.
How much does it cost to ship a deceased person within Canada?
Shipping the deceased within Canada can sometimes be required to return someone to their home province, or family location. Although domestic funeral shipping is more straight-forward as the body is not crossing a POE, it can still be quite costly to transport deceased remains from one province to another. Especially with the vastness of Canada, and the need for air transportation if human remains need to be sent home for a funeral.
The service charges for transporting a deceased person within Canada is likely to cost around $5,000 – $6,000.
What does a Funeral Shipping Provider do?
Specialist mortuary repatriation companies focus entirely on providing repatriation services to funeral homes, government agencies, health institutions, the Military, and Federal Departments of Foreign Affairs. They support funeral homes in the transfer of remains. Providing expertise in repatriation affairs. This can be especially invaluable in the case of international repatriation where collaboration with Embassies, Consulates, Governments, and Customs is required.
As experienced repatriation and air transportation specialists, they can take the lead in making all necessary arrangements.
What do I legally need to know about funeral shipping a loved one’s remains?
Shipping human remains does require knowledge in the field to ensure that your loved one’s remains are transported with dignity, no compliance issues, and in a secure timely manner.
An experienced repatriation professional will know everything that needs to be handled. And be familiar with implementing the necessary processes. Obtaining death certificates, liaising with government departments, and coordinating with airlines.
Repatriation specialists usually have established relationships with the airlines as ‘known shippers’. This means they can confirm flight availability quickly and book. Only ‘known shippers’ can make airline cargo shipment arrangements direct with the airline. They will also be familiar with airline loading arrangements to ensure a discreet dignified transfer of the deceased onto the flight.
Your shipping contact will ensure all import/export regulations are met for both the disembarking and the receiving country. Ensuring correct paperwork accompanies the deceased as required.
In most cases, a body must be embalmed to be transported and shipped, (there are exceptions) and an embalming certificate must also accompany the deceased.
What type of container is required to ship a deceased person?
The body must be in a “hermetically sealed container”. This means the body must be sealed in an air-tight container for travel purposes. This can be a casket, coffin, or another air-tight outer container. Airlines sometimes use an air-tray as an outer container to seal a body for transport.
Funeral shipping arrangements between Mexico and Canada
The Mexican Caribbean, the Baja, and other locations have been popular with Canadian tourists, snowbirds and retirees seeking winter sun and a less expensive cost of living. This inevitably means that sometimes a need for repatriation to Canada is required, if a Canadian citizen should pass away whilst visiting Mexico.
Due to the long-standing ‘migration’ of Canadians visiting, or living, in Mexico, there are funeral service providers in key destinations that have become versant with the process for shipping a deceased Canadian back to the destination province. Generally, most medical institutions serving expats will be familiar with local services.
The Government of Canada offers emergency Consular assistance to citizens. Although they cannot make any arrangements on the family’s behalf, they can provide guidance on what to do if a death has occurred overseas.
What Airline Regulations govern funeral shipping?
There are regulations that govern the movement of human remains, and the airlines will advise you in relation to your specific circumstances. Regulations can vary dependent upon transportation between provinces, or dependent upon from which country outside of Canada you are seeking to transport remains from. You may find that the funeral home handling the funeral service will arrange air transportation on your behalf if this is required. In some cases, funeral homes will have a ‘preferred’ airline that they will use. However, if you are arranging many aspects of the funeral yourself, be it that you wish to, or managing costs dictate so, then you will find quite helpful information available on most of the major airline cargo web sites.
What Options you have – Non-Cremated Remains or Cremated Remains Transportation
The major airline companies usually employ a specialized team to deal with this very sensitive cargo. For example, Air Canada operates a special cargo service called ‘Compassion’ that handles the transportation of either non-cremated or cremated, remains. As with other airlines, their regulations vary dependent upon domestic or international shipments. Remains normally need to be transported in a casket that is contained within an airtray. The airline will ordinarily provide an airtray, although they may charge for this.
It is difficult to provide a definitive pricing guide for the transportation of remains, as it varies so much by the airline, schedule, distance, weight, and other pertaining factors. However, as a rough guide, you will find the rates for shipping non-cremated human remains within Canada can start from as little as $3,000 but reach up to $10,000’s for International transportation to, or from, Canada. Most airlines offer a basic fee classified by domestic zones and stratified by weight. The freight charge may also be subject to additional surcharges.
An alternative to shipping the deceased’s body is to ship cremated remains. This can greatly save on costs. A direct cremation can be performed at the place of death, another cost-saving measure, and then an urn with the cremains shipped back to the family for a funeral service to be performed with family. As mentioned the costs for shipping cremated remains can be cheaper than shipping the deceased’s body.
All shipments must meet airline Goods Acceptance Process (GAP) and cut-off times for the shipment of human remains are generally between 2 – 4 hours prior to departure. A shipment will usually be cleared for collection 2+ hours after arrival. You, or your funeral home, will need to make the necessary delivery and collection arrangements.
Are there any Bereavement Travel Discounts?
Many of the major airlines offer special discounts for people needing to travel due to a recent bereavement. You would need to check specifically with the airline of your choice as to what criteria qualify for discounted bereavement travel. Travellers eligible for Air Canada’s Bereave Fares are the deceased’s: spouse (includes common law as well as same-sex partners), child (includes adopted / step / grand/great grand), parent (includes step / grand/great grand/in-law / common-law in-law), daughter, son, father, mother (includes legal / in-law / common-law in-law), brother, sister (includes step/half/in-law / common-law in-law), aunt, uncle, niece, nephew (includes those of spouse and common-law spouse), legal guardian (with proof of judgement) and spouse of legal guardian. All the above include in-laws of a same-sex partner.
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