Mailing cremated remains with USPS – Revisions Dec 2013

With effect from December 26th 2013 the United States Postal Service has revised its procedures for the mailing of cremated remains.

USPS is now requiring customers to ONLY mail cremated remains via the Priority Mail Express Service.  Cremated remains will no longer be accepted to be mailed by the Registered Mail Service.  A receipt signature should be required for all human cremated remains shipments.

mailing-cremated-remainsLabel 139 should be adhered to all parcels containing cremated remains before they are shipped through the United States Postal System.  This helps USPS to clearly identify cremated remains through their tracking systems.  Although the label is not a requirement, it can greatly give reassurance to families that Postal workers will be aware of handling the sensitive nature of a package containing someone’s loved one’s ashes.

The label 139 for Cremated Remains can be purchased from the Postal Store at, enabling families or funeral homes to purchase the labels and affix it prior to taking a package to the Post Office.

This revision is effective immediately and will be updated in the Domestic Mail Manual [DMM] on January 26th 2014.

The cost to mail cremated remains is determined by the cost for Priority Mail Express Service and the weight of the consignment.  A package containing cremated remains generally costs between $25.00 and $75.00 to send by USPS.

Mailing cremated remains with USPS

The United States Postal Service have introduced a new labeling system with effect from August 26th 2013 to make it easier to identify parcels contained cremated remains. Before the introduction of label 139, customers would generally just mark a package as “containing human cremated remains” to ensure postal workers handled the package with care.

Using Label 139 to identify cremated remains

mailing-cremated-remainsLabel 139 is a non-trackable adhesive label that can be attached to a package if the sender identifies the contents as human cremated remains.  The label is not required, but its introduction will make it easier for USPS to identify cremated remains within their system.  Handling cremated remains is something of a sensitive nature, and the United States Postal Service is the only carrier service by which you can mail cremated remains. As the cremation rate continues to increase and more families use USPS to ship remains, the introduction of improved labeling should help improve the careful handling of these ‘sensitive’ packages.

Mailing services for cremated remains

Cremated remains can be mailed through the United States Postal Service using Priority Mail Express and Registered Mail.  This includes Priority Mail (excluding Critical Mail), First-Class Package Service and First-Class Mail Parcels.  For more detailed information about mailing cremated remains within the continental United States or internationally, read our post about how to mail cremated remains.