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COVID-19 Disposition of Remains
April 7, 2020

U.S. Entry Requirements for Quarantine and Customs

In general, if remains have been embalmed, the documents outlined above will satisfy U.S. public health requirements. If the foreign death certificate is not available at the time the remains are returned, the consular mortuary certificate will reference the fact that the deceased did not die from a quarantinable disease and that the remains have been embalmed.

If a passenger does not accompany the remains, the airline carrier must issue a bill of lading to cover the transport.

At the point of departure, the airline carrier will obtain the customs house permit for entry to the United States.

CDC requirements for importing human remains depend upon if the body has been embalmed, cremated, or if the person died from a quarantinable communicable disease.

At this time, COVID-19 is a quarantinable communicable disease in the United States and the remains must meet the standards for importation found in 42 Code of Federal Regulations Part 71.55 and may be cleared, released, and authorized for entry into the United States only under the following conditions:

  • The remains are cremated; OR
  • The remains are properly embalmed and placed in a hermetically sealed casket; OR
  • The remains are accompanied by a permit issued by the CDC Director. The CDC permit (if applicable) must accompany the human remains at all times during shipment.
    • Permits for the importation of the remains of a person known or suspected to have died from a quarantinable communicable disease may be obtained through the CDC Division of Global Migration and Quarantine by calling the CDC Emergency Operations Center at 770-488-7100 or emailing dgmqpolicyoffice@cdc.gov.

Please see CDC’s guidance for additional information.