Can I Transport a Loved One’s Body in my Own Car?
When a loved one passes away out of state or in another city, you either have to bury them in that location or make arrangements for the transport of the body. (When you have a pre-planned funeral package in place, moving the body is usually required, since you will need to get your loved one to the funeral home of their choosing.)
Moving a body—especially across state lines—is not as easy as putting them in the back of a hearse and making a road trip. Although you can make arrangements to move the body yourself, there are still legal steps and requirements in place.
Burial Transit Permits
If you will be moving a body over county/state lines or via common carrier (an airplane, train, or transport vehicle), you will need to first get a burial transit permit. This permit is filed by a funeral director or the county registrar, and is a formal record of the deceased’s personal information and cause of death.
This permit must be accompanied by a death certificate and indicate where the deceased passed away as well as the cause. In this way, you can ensure that the body will be properly cared for once you reach your destination (and that the funeral director who ends up caring for the body knows who to contact for more information).
When a body is being transported, the law requires that it be “embalmed, refrigerated, or encapsulated” within 48 hours following death. Most personal vehicles are not properly outfitted for encapsulation, which means that unless you live within a day’s drive, you will most likely need to have the body embalmed first.
Private carriers may also have their own regulations regarding embalming. For example, even if an airline can deliver a body within 24 hours following death, they may require you to embalm the body first—and if you want to use their service, you will have to act in accordance with these rules.
It is rare that a loved one’s remains are prepared for any kind of burial or transport without first passing through a funeral director or mortician’s care. Not only will a death certificate need to be issued, but there are often cleanup issues that come into play.
This means that you probably won’t be able to wrap a loved one’s body in a blanket and place them in the trunk (nor would you want to). If you will be transporting a body in your own vehicle, it will need to be properly sealed in the right kind of shipping case and you will have to prove you have adequate space to move and store the body safely.
If you will be moving a loved one on your own, you will also need to make arrangements for the body when you arrive. In most cases, two funeral homes will work together to make this happen (one will prepare the body and file a burial transit permit while the other begins the funeral preparations).
Moving a body on your own is possible, but is not always ideal. Unless you have strong feelings regarding keeping the body within your own care, it is usually best to either hire the funeral home to arrange the transport or to have the deceased cremated and carry the ashes wherever you want them to go.