How to obtain an NOC to transport ashes to India

UPDATE: for all the fuckin work I went through to get this certificate, we were never asked for it at any point during our travels to India (entry city was Kochi). I still recommend bringing a death certificate and cremation certificate…but you can probably skip the hassle of getting an NOC.

First of all…I’m sorry for your loss.  I’m also sorry that this may be the only note of sympathy that you may receive in the convoluted process of obtaining this document.

Welcome to the Consulate General of India’s San Francisco location, also known as the 12th circle of hell.  Dealing with them will make you yearn for your next trip to the DMV.

Ok…so there is conflicting and incomplete information on how to obtain an NOC (shit, their website doesn’t even tell you that “NOC” stands for “no objection certificate” whatever that means).  I’m gonna try to fill in the blanks for you:

  • Things to bring:
    • A completed Application for Miscellaneous Services.  Note that this should be filled out from the perspective of the deceased.  You do not need to attach a passport photo.  And the document doesn’t need to be signed, even if you want to pull a Weekend At Bernie’s with your deceased loved one (sorry, too soon?)
    • The deceased’s passport and a copy of it.  Note that they will invalidate the passport in some way (I think they’ll punch a hole in it)
    • A copy of your passport
    • The original death certificate and a copy
    • The original cremation certificate and a copy – the funeral home should provide this
    • A $42 money order or cashier’s check.  You don’t need to have 2 separate checks for the $40 death document fee and the $2 Indian Community Welfare Fee.
  • Other items you might want to bring because you are entering bureaucratic hell
    • The original burial transit permit and a copy – the funeral home should provide this
    • Your original passport
  • Other notes:
    • While the Consulate’s office is closed in San Francisco due to Covid, they do have a window where they will service your requests (at least NOC requests).  Despite what the website says, you do not have to handle this via mail.  While the office is open during normal business hours, you must submit the application by noon (and you might want to arrive earlier).  They’ll have the NOC ready for you to pickup between 430pm and 5pm the same day.  They will hassle you if you opt to come on a different day.
    • Do not forget to get a receipt when you submit the documents.
    • Despite the wide variety of languages spoken in India, they’ll treat you like an idiot if you don’t speak Hindi.
    • They don’t allow you to bring anything to the office—no cell phone, no backpacks, no purses, no strollers, no food/drink.  Just bring your paperwork.  Consider going naked just in case.
    • This information is for…
      • the San Francisco Consulate General—the other consulates in the US seem to have different policies.  For example, other offices have already reopened “post” Covid.
      • a US citizen non-resident Indian (NRI)—the policies might be different for citizens of other countries.
      • getting an NOC for ashes—the process might be different for other mortal remains.
    • This is all as of September 2022 and this info is subject to change, quite possibly at the whim of whoever you deal with there.
    • It is unclear if the NOC is needed to depart the US with ashes, to transit through a country with ashes, or to arrive in India with ashes.  Honestly, I’m not even sure if one even needs to have an NOC to bring ashes to India—will update later this year.
    • Don’t count on receiving a response from the contact form on the CGI SF website or from the Miscellaneous Department at  You might have to reach out to Consul General Prasad ( to get someone to respond.

One last thing: they will reject your application and send you home for any reason they see fit.  I happened to have an email from them telling me that I only needed to bring a copy the deceased’s passport (not the original), so my application was approved.  The poor guy in front of me did not have such an email, so he was sent home.  Consider all the ways they might reject your application and be ready.  Consider all the possible outcomes and be ready.  You are going to war with the most ruthless of bureaucrats–bring your pedantic A-game.  Godspeed.