The cremation process and legal requirements for it vary state by state and city by city. Please check your local legal requirements to ensure the safe processing of your loved one.
There are different parts to the cremation process including transportation, storage, cremation itself, and the return of the remains. You have an opportunity to have a viewing prior to the cremation process, as well. You may also be able to witness the cremation.
To start, the body will be taken to the funeral home or straight to the crematory. Before the cremation occurs, the body will be stored and secured in cold storage.
Next up for the cremation process, you must select a container or casket in which to cremate your loved one. Their body will be placed in the container and brought to the crematory.
Before the cremation, personal items (jewelry, watches, etc.) are removed from the container/casket and returned to you/the family. For safety reasons, many items are not allowed to be cremated with the body because not everything is combustible. These items could cause damage to the crematory or the operator.
How Long Does It Take To Cremate a Body?
The cremation process can take anywhere from 30 minutes to more than two hours depending on the size of the body and how much heat has been stored in the cremator’s chamber. The cremation process occurs at 1600 degrees F. Once the cremation process is complete, the cremated remains are swept out of the cremator into a cooling tray and brought to a processor. The processor breaks down the bone fragments until they are 1/8” or smaller in size. The cremated remains are put into a plastic bag and placed into an urn or temporary container. Throughout this entire process, your loved one’s identification is checked numerous times. The cremated remains are placed with paperwork and stored until the family, comes to retrieve them.
Adult cremated remains weigh between four and six pounds.
If you plan to transport cremated remains, you may need different documents (death certificate, certificate of cremation, etc.) and the help of a funeral director to make this process possible.
If shipping cremated remains by United States Postal Service (USPS), you must use Priority Mail Express service and Priority Express Mail International. USPS’ Label 139 indicating “Cremated Remains” is not required but it is encouraged to help USPS workers know this package should be handled with care.
Most airlines allow the transportation of cremated remains either as a carry-on, checked luggage or air cargo. Check with the airlines to learn their rules about transporting cremated remains; some airlines need notice if something needs to be placed in the air cargo. You must carry the death certificate, certificate of cremation and other documentation with you.
If transporting the cremated remains internationally, you will have to contact the Consulate(s) of the country you are taking the remains to or from. You will find the forms and authorizations required. Your funeral director will likely have to complete many of the forms. This process can take a few weeks.
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