LawRefs Customized Legal Information
Attorney Renee C. Walsh

Moving a Body from One State to Another After Death

If you want to be buried in a state other than the state of your death, you should become educated about your options. Advanced planning saves your loved ones a lot of trouble and reduces the potential for legal disputes that could arise after death.

Transporting a body across state lines isn’t an issue that has been highly litigated and therefore attorneys aren’t necessarily the best experts to provide practical advice in this area. Furthermore, the states do not have uniform laws but rather they do vary from state to state.

There is information you can gather on your own:

  • Contact the funeral home and/or cemetery involved.  Find out what they can do to assist you in the process.

  • Find out if only one funeral home and/or cemetery has to become involved in the process.  Perhaps the paperwork can be performed at only one end of the journey, thereby reducing costs.

  • Ask how the body has to be prepared for transport.  Typically, a body will need to be embalmed before it can be transported across state lines.  However, if the body is being transported within the state or for a short time, it may not have to be embalmed.

  • Find out about any permits and paperwork required.

Once the body has been properly prepared and packaged, it can typically be transported in any vehicle large enough to carry it.  Choose who will transport the body to its resting place.  If a loved one is chosen, then this should be discussed with a funeral director so that a transportation agent can be designated and appropriate permits and paperwork can be provided.

Seek the guidance of a funeral director who has the knowledge and experience to provide the practical advice to plan for a peaceful journey to the final resting place.


  • MCL 333.2848 Public Health Code Act 368 Part 28 Vital Records subsection (5) provides that a permit for disposition issued under the law of another state that accompanies a dead body or dead fetus brought into Michigan is authorization for final disposition of the dead body or dead fetus in this state.

  • MCL 339.1807 Occupational Code Act 299 Article 18 provides that the body must be accompanied by a removal or shipping permit.  A railway agent, express agent, baggage master, or conductor shall not receive the dead body of a person for shipment or transportation by railway or other public conveyance, unless the body is accompanied by a removal or shipping permit.

  • MCL 750.160c Penal Code Act 328 Dead Human Bodies provides that if you agree to provide for final disposition, you must properly dispose of that dead human body or risk criminal charges.





  1. I am a transporter. How can I get started moving peoples loved one out of state? I read all your stuff and see a lot of people have problems getting there loved ones transported.

    • Dear Jim:

      Consider getting contracts from these people to move the bodies. They could designate you their agent and if they have all their paperwork, then it shouldn’t be too difficult. Consider contacting those who do transport bodies, such as buses and trains and asking them their protocols for a good start.

  2. My wife and I are planning a green burial for both of us (no embalming) etc. We are planning to die at our residence in Iowa (no time soon) but want to take care of the arrangements/legalities. Also we would like to transport whoever dies first to the cemetery ourselves in Minnesota. What will we need for documents? from both states? What container is needed for transporting? Can I or my wife act as funeral director in Iowa?

    • Dear Richard:

      You will need a burial-transit permit issued by the county medical examiner, a funeral director, or the state registrar. See Iowa Section 144.32. There may be difficulty procuring this permit per Funeral Consumers Alliance and if you have trouble, I suggest you contact them.

      The body must be enclosed in a container for transfer that will control odor and prevent the leakage of body fluids and must be transported in a manner that is respectful of the dead, the feelings of relatives, and the sensibilities of the community. (See Iowa Administrative Code section 101.6(1).)

      As far as I am aware, permits issued in one state are respected throughout the United States. Finally, I suggest contacting the burial site in Minnesota to find out what requirements they have.