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What to do If a Loved One's Death Occurs Away from Home

Published: July 30, 2021

Understanding Your Options for When a Loved One’s Death Happens Away from Home

It can be overwhelming when your loved one dies in a different state or country distant from their intended final resting place. There’s a lot you must figure out, including transportation, state laws, and your loved one’s funeral wishes. For this reason, we prepared a guide to help you know your options if a loved one’s death occurs away from home.

Practical Steps for When There Is a Death Away from Home

After a loved one’s death away from home, the primary concern for family members is how to get the body back to them. The process of transporting the body will differ based on these two scenarios:

If the death occurred away from the home state but within the U.S.
If your loved one died abroad.

What to Do When a Loved One’s Death Occurs Away from Home but Within the Country

The type of final disposition will determine how you transport your loved one’s body.

1. Cremation

If the deceased had expressed their desire to be cremated, the process of moving your loved one’s body becomes easier. You could opt to send the cremains via mail or use various transportation means.

Transfer by car or train. Currently, there are no rules concerning moving cremains by car or train. We recommend securing the container if you’ll be driving to avoid damage during the journey. Ensure you receive a transit permit and the cremation documentation from the funeral home.


Transport via plane. Transporting your loved one’s cremated ashes by air is more complicated. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) permits cremated remains. However, you must check with the specific airline to know whether you’ll place them in the checked bags or carry-on. Additionally, you must carry the cremains in a light wooden, plastic material or as steel—other opaque materials are often not allowed.
Delivery of cremains by mail. If there’s no family member available to collect the cremated ashes in person, you could request the funeral home to ship them to you.

2. Traditional funeral

If you plan to hold a funeral service and burial for your loved one, then naturally, you’d require to transport the body. You’ll also need to work with two funeral homes if you intend to plan the funeral arrangements by yourself. By partnering with Holloway Funeral Home & Cremation Services, you can leave all the planning to us, from the transportation of the deceased to the interment.

There are two transportation options, i.e., by ground or air. While going by car is more straightforward, we recommend against self-pickup. If you do so, then you must find out the state laws and also work out logistics which can be stressful during such a difficult time.

3. What to do if a loved one dies abroad

Here’s what to do if your loved one dies outside the United States.

  • Reach out to the Embassy where your loved one died

The U.S Bureau of Consular Affairs will assist you and your loved ones make arrangements to get the deceased to the U.S. You must remember that the form of disposition is subject to the foreign country and U.S laws.

Additionally, the Department of State does not cover the costs of transportation. However, the department will provide all information, including how to transmit the required funds and communicate with the foreign Embassy on your behalf.

Determine if you will need to travel to claim the body

You might need to travel to where your loved one died, depending on the laws regarding who can claim the body. The local consulate will again advise you on the various options available. Also, if you decide to travel, it would be wise to hire a translator to assist in navigating the funeral home, hospital, and other local areas.

Choose a local funeral home

We recommend partnering with a local funeral home to handle the final arrangements once the body is in the U.S. It would help if you chose a funeral home with experience in funeral planning for loved ones who have died abroad. It’s a good idea to speak to the funeral director first to find out if the funeral home can handle your specific needs. This matter is especially crucial when it comes to preparing the body. Many foreign countries do not practice embalming, so you’ll need a funeral home to advise you on this matter.

Why You Should Consider Funeral Pre-Planning in Florida

If the death of a loved one occurs away from home, it can be stressful making out where to start. Holloway Funeral Home and Cremation Services can help reduce that burden. We help family members bring their loved one’s home plus ensure they get the funeral service and burial they would have wanted. We also offer funeral pre-planning services, including prepaid funeral plans and travel protection plans to cover you if death occurs abroad. If you have any questions about our services or need advice on pre-arrangements, please call us at 813-855-2439 today.

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