The consignor is the term used of a person sending an item of freight. In the case of an International Funeral Transfer, the consignor is the sending Funeral Director.
The consignor/Funeral Director is obviously the person responsible for the preparation of the deceased, the preparation of documentation relating to the transfer and ensuring the OK to forward booking process is complete.
OK to Forward
The process of what’s called an OK to forward be what the booking process is called to send an NHS or Natural Human Specimen from one country to the next. It is the term used to give the green light to forward all types of freight within the world after all approvals have been ascertained.
The Consignor will contact the airline generally via a professional freight forwarder to create the freight or flight booking.
At this point an air weigh bill is created which is the international system for the systematic direction and tracking of all items of freight.
The departing airline will contact the airline at the arrival destination to seek the commitment of the Consignee or receiving Funeral Director to agree to the above criteria as the Consignee.
This process is then reversed back to Consignor or sending Funeral Director and the consignment is endorsed as OK to Forward, only then can the booking be confirmed.
It should be noted with time and date line difference this can sometimes take 24-48 hours.
The Consignee is the person receiving the freight again generally a Funeral Director, human remains are precious cargo, which requires specific care and attention on arrival at its destination.
All international Air carriers have similar standard operating procedures built on the ideals of respect. The first cargo to be unloaded from an international air flight should be a casket bearing Human remains.
The Consignee is the person who is responsible to take the deceased into their care on arrival at the country of destination. This on most occasions is a professional Funeral Director. On some occasions though, the Consignee can be the family of the deceased in the absence of a Funeral Director.
It is the Consignee's responsibility to commit to be awaiting the arrival of the deceased at the airport of destination, at the time of arrival to take into his/her casket into care, after Customs and Quarantine have been checked and cleared by the appropriate documentation.
The Consignee must also have an adequate vehicle to transfer the deceased to the funeral facility on arrival. The Consignee may also be required to pay any import tax or custom tariff on arrival to the country of designation.
Documents, Certificates and Registration details.
Regardless of the country of destination or origin a person’s, the death must be registered prior to departure in the normal manner with the local Registrar of Birth, Deaths and Marriages. The local Registrar, once advised of the death, should also receive notification of the intention to transfer the person from Australia. In most instances three certified Death Certificates are required for the repatriation of someone who has died internationally and they are treated in the following manner.
1. One is for the airline and usually accompanies the airline weigh bill. This certificate is often kept by the airline for their records.
2. The second is for the Funeral Director at the destination to perform the funeral at the cemetery or crematorium.
3. The last is for the family’s legal purposes in relation to finalising estate matters in their own country
It should be noted that for some counties a certified Australian Death Certificate may need to have a consular endorsed seal or have a complete translation to become legal tender in the country of destination.
It should also be noted that some countries require an international notary republic to witness endorse and sign a photocopy of the certified Death Certificate for it to become legal tender in the country of destination.
Details required to register a Death in Australia.
• Full name of deceased
• Date of birth and date of death
• Place of death
• Residential address
• Is the deceased retired
• If born overseas, date and/or year of arrival in Australia
• Marital status
• Place of marriage
• Age at marriage
• Christian names of spouse
• Surname of spouse
• Fathers full name
• Father’s occupation
• Mother’s Christian name
• Mother’s maiden name
• Mother’s occupation
• Children’s Christian names and dates of birth
• Name and address of cemetery or crematorium
Download the QLD and NSW registration of death applications in PDF form here.
Care and preservation of the deceased.
One of the first rules of air travel is that the deceased must be embalmed. This preservative treatment of the deceased is required to alleviate the need to keep the deceased in a cooled environment. This procedure preserves and hopefully improves the condition of the deceased until they arrive home.
It also ensures the hygiene and safety of the staff that handle the casket at various stages of the journey.
Unless there is a significant religious or cultural objection this is normally a mandatory requirement.
Sealing of the deceased and wrapping of the casket.
The deceased person must be placed in either a heat-sealed polythene body bag, it should be noted some countries require an inner metal or zinc liner container within the coffin.
A more modern approach is a new material called Bio-seal which is a mixture of both, best described as a metallic body bag. This material melts together when heat is applied creating an air and water tight hermetical seal require for air carriage.
The pleasing nature of Bio seal unlike a metal or zinc coffin liner, is that on arrival it can be opened simply with the use of scissors, making it much easier for the Funeral Director to open and allow the family to see their loved one once they are home.
Once sealed in the manner described the person who has died is placed in the coffin/casket of choice, which is then wrapped for its protection and safety in an outer cardboard coffin. This is generally done to protect the coffin or casket so it may be used on arrival at the destination for the funeral.
This casket is then wrapped in an outer material called sisal craft, which is best described as a waterproof tar paper to keep the coffin protected and dry during air transit.
During air carriage the casket must be identified clearly with the name of the Consignee, the destination and the deceased’s name.