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Q: I've been contacted by a person who is asking whether his girlfriend can bring her mother's cremated remains from Ukraine to the United States. What stumbling blocks might she encounter? She was told by someone that "foreign" cremated remains could not be inurned/interred in the United States. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
A: Overall, this is possible. While airlines have certain restrictions on how to transport cremated remains, it is allowed. For the international leg of this journey, I suggest contacting the foreign embassy/consulate for each country. They should be able to provide any information on required documentation. Typically the documentation needed is a cremation permit/order showing that the cremated remains are that of the deceased person and a copy of a death certificate. I suggest making copies in case they want one for their records.
I also suggest carrying on the cremated remains when you travel. Some airlines (according to the Transportation Security Administration) do not allow cremated remains to be placed in checked luggage. By carrying the cremated remains in a carry-on, you can avoid this problem. Also, keep in mind that the airlines will not under any circumstance open an urn or container with cremated remains in it. Therefore, it is important to make sure that the urn you use for transporting is able to be x-rayed (this is usually covered by a plastic or wood urn).
Regarding your question as to the interment/inurnment of foreign remains, I am not familiar with any restrictions. I have clients who routinely receive foreign remains and have had no problem with final disposition. Any interment would require proper documentation, and there may be some hurdles regarding international paperwork, but overall it can be done.
Be sure to check with your local cemetery about what they need so that you and the family can prepare and make sure everything goes smoothly. Typically, if the airlines allow the shipping, whatever paperwork they have required should more than suffice for the cemetery.