Cremated ashes may be freely transported internationally.
A distinction must be made between the following categories with regard to the encoffining and the transport of non-cremated human remains to another country:
- Encoffining and transport within the Benelux;
- Encoffining and transport from or to one of the countries bound by the Strasbourg Agreement;
- Encoffining and transport to another country.
Encoffining and transport to another country
Germany signed the Strasbourg Agreement but subsequently did not ratify it; it is therefore not bound by these provisions. Germany is bound by the Berlin Convention of 10 February 1937, ratified by the Law of 26 August 1938 (Belgian Official Gazette of 9 April 1939). In view of the fact that Belgium is also party to the Berlin Convention, the conditions of transfer of human remains between those two countries are governed by that Convention (the conditions imposed by that Convention for a coffin are reiterated in Article 3 of the Regent's Decree of 20 June 1947 on the transport of human remains, referred to below).
For other countries, the Regent's Decree of 20 June 1947 (Belgian Official Gazette of 26 September 1947) applies.
Article 3 of this Decree stipulates the following:
- The corpse must be placed in a metal coffin, the bottom of which has been covered with a layer of approximately 5 centimetres of absorbent matter (peat, sawdust, powdered charcoal, and the like), with the addition of an antiseptic substance. Where the cause of decease was a contagious disease, then the corpse itself shall be wrapped in a shroud soaked in an antiseptic solution.
- The metal coffin must thereupon be hermetically closed (soldered) and fitted into a wooden coffin in such a manner as to preclude movement. The wooden coffin shall be of a thickness of not less than 3 centimetres, its joints must be completely watertight, and it must be closed by means of screws not more than 20 centimetres distant from one another, and strengthened by metal hoops.
- In the case of Germany, a covering letter (laissez-passer for a corpse) is required by virtue of Article 1 of the Berlin Convention of 10 February 1937. This document is sufficient pursuant to Article 2.
- The Regent's Decree of 20 June 1947 applies to other countries. A laissez-passer is required.