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Funerals/International transportation of my Dad's cremains


Hello Lisa,

I have couple questions regarding how to bring my Dad's ashes back to U.S.  I am a U.S. citizen, but my parents live in Hong Kong and they are not U.S. citizen.  My Dad just past away couple months ago in Hong Kong.  I am planning to have his ashes brought back to U.S. (Illinois) and bury here.

My questions are:

1. What kind of legal documentation or approval do I need from the government in order to transport my Dad's ashes back from another country? And where can I get it?

2. Can my mom bring my Dad's ashes to U.S. for me? Or it has to be myself to bring it back?

3. Can it be a carry-on item to the airplane and is there any special kind of urn needs to be used?

Thank you for you help in advance!


Yes, they may be brought in a carry-on by you or your mom. Do NOT use a metal urn as it must be scannable. If in a ceramic urn, go to the airport first to make sure it's scannable as some glazes have metal in them. A wood or cardboard box would go through easily.

I don't believe any paperwork is required but a death certificate might be helpful, especially at the cemetery here.


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Lisa Carlson


Funeral Law. Having written a 512-page book on funeral law for consumers with state-by-state information, I am very conversant with consumer rights in this regard: What are the laws on disposition of cremated remains? Is embalming required? Do I have to use a funeral home? Can I have a home wake? Is it a state law to buy a vault? I prepaid for a funeral but changed my mind. They won`t give me all my money back. What can I do? . . . If you have an immediate need for information because a death has just occurred or is about to occur, you may call me at 802-482-6021.


I have monitored the funeral industry on behalf of consumers for over 20 years. I have been a guest speaker to funeral trade organizations, consumer workshops, and social service professionals. I am regularly consulted by lawyers and legislators as well as journalists.

Funeral Ethics Organization ( Funeral Consumers Alliance (

Caring for Your Own Dead (1987) Caring for the Dead: Your Final Act of Love (1998) I Died Laughing: Funeral Education with a Light Touch (2001) Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death (2011) with co-author Joshua Slocum

Masters degree in Administration and Special Education

Past/Present Clients
Available as an expert witness for funeral-related court cases.

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