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How to Become a ‘Known Shipper’

If you are in the funeral industry, you will most likely find yourself faced with the task of transporting human remains. Sometimes, due to the circumstances, it is either necessary or just more convenient to do this by air. However, as of 2010, the requirements for cargo screening have significantly increased. Under the 9/11 Act, 100% of shipments must be screened before being boarded onto passenger aircrafts. In order to comply with the new security mandates, airlines have had to change many of their policies.

One of the policies that most affects funeral homes requires all those who are placing cargo onto a passenger aircraft to become Known Shippers. This means that all funeral homes who wish to transport human remains must first register and be approved by each airline that they use. Though, if you are a small funeral home who only has to make one or two shipments a year, it might be more convenient to outsource this service. There are several companies who specialize in the transportation of human remains both domestically and internationally.

However, if you do wish to become a Known Shipper, most airlines have an online application that, once submitted, will be passed on to the TSA’s Known Shipper Management System (KSMS) for approval. If you have never been listed in the TSA database as a Known Shipper, there might be an inspection of your facilities before approval can be granted. This is to ensure the legitimacy of the business. Depending on the airline, there will also be a fee associated with the inspection.

Once your funeral home has been approved, the airline will notify you and set up an account for your company. Even though all applications are ultimately approved by the TSA, it is still necessary to apply through each individual airline that you plan to use. Unfortunately, it is not possible to get one verification to become a Known Shipper for all airlines. What’s more, if your company has multiple locations, it is necessary for each of those locations to individually go through the application process as well.

Once you have become a known carrier, the process of making the shipments is fairly simple. First, make sure that you have your Precise Account Locater (PAL) number ready when making a booking. And second, upon a arrival at the airline dock, you will be asked to provide your airway bill and transit permit. Then, the airport personnel will perform the necessary security measures. Once that is completed, the shipment will be placed on board the plane.

Another option for a funeral home who will be transporting human remains is to become a Certified Cargo Screening Facility through the Certified Cargo Screening Program (CCSP). This would allow for all the funeral home’s shipments to be pre-screened. The TSA implemented this program in order to expedite the security process. Through this program, it would not be necessary to go through the security measures at the airport because the shipment has already been passed at another screening facility. This can be good news for funeral homes for many reasons. The first of these reasons is that pre-screening shipments can help you to avoid any mishaps at the airport. The airport is not a facility that is properly equipped to keep human remains for long periods of time. What would happen if something went wrong during the screening process and the shipment was not allowed on the plane? There are many funeral homes now who are certified through the CCSP. This not only provides a safer facility for the handling of human remains, but it might also offer more relief to the family of the deceased to know that their loved one is in the care of licensed funeral directors who have also been trained and certified to screen cargo. Individual funeral homes can apply for and be trained through the CCSP or can choose to use the services of other funeral homes who have already done so.

In order to become a Certified Cargo Screening Facility, you must first apply to the TSA. Once approved, you will be required to adhere to strict security standards such as the screening of prospective employees and the implementation of physical access controls.

For more information about the screening process of cargo shipments or the process of becoming a known carrier of a screening facility, contact the TSA or the individual airlines.

Prothero, Stephen. Purified by Fire: A History of Cremation in America. Berkeley: U of California Press, 2002. Print.

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