Updated Rules for Mailing Cremated Remains

Sep 23, 2019 | 0 comments

Note the urn on this USPS Cremated Remains box.

The USPS has recently (September 2019) updated Publication 139 – How to Package and Ship Cremated Remains. The last time the United States Postal Service (USPS) updated their guidelines for mailing cremated remains was October 2014.

The United States Postal Service is the only legal way to ship cremated remains. FedEx and United Postal Service will not knowingly transport them.

This information comes from the newsletter of the International Cemetery Cremation and Funeral Association (ICCFA). Here’s the 2014 information on mailing cremated remains.

While the basic guidelines and procedures for shipping cremated remains have not changed, there are a few specific areas where they have tightened their procedures in an effort to make the transportation of cremated remains safer.

First, the USPS has added a recommendation that the shipper place the inner sift-proof container into a sealed plastic bag; and then attach a label with the complete return address and delivery address on the sealed plastic bag and the words ‘Cremated Remains.’ This is in an effort to protect the cremated remains if the shipping container becomes detached from the outer container.

A second change is the introduction of the USPS Priority Mail Express Cremated Remains box. This free box can be ordered online from USPS.com. The Cremated Remains box comes pre-printed with orange labeling on all sides, indicating that the contents include cremated remains.

Cremated Remains mailing labels
Use these labels when mailing cremated remains!

This leads to the last significant shipping change by the USPS, and that is the requirement that the cremated remains shipping container must be marked with Label 139, ‘Cremated Remains’, affixed to all sides including the top and bottom. While the Label has always been available and recommended, it is now required and must be on all sides of the shipping box. From the images available, it appears that Label 139 is now orange, and of course these labels/stickers remain free and available online or from any USPS location.

Keep in mind that these requirements go into effect now and apply to all cremated remains (this includes human and animal; and also includes shipping cremated remains for ‘artisan purposes’ – such as placing them in blown glass or other works of art.)

 Click here for a complete copy of the new USPS publication.

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