Owning human remains
Is it legal to sell or own human bones?
As soon as we started selling human remains this became the top question we were asked. The answer very much depends on your location and we always try and research individual cases before processing your order. If the local laws of your shipping address country prohibits the purchase or import of human remains we will cancel and fully refund your order. Laws can (and do) change frequently and whilst we strive to check your local laws before shipping, please do not order if you already know your country/state bans these type of items.
Here in the UK, the Human Tissue Act (2004) states that it is an offence to engage in commercial dealings of material for the purposes of transplantation. This covers soft tissues and does not specifically refer to bones. However, the latest relevant update on the HTA website (https://www.hta.gov.uk/policies/sale-bodies-body-parts-and-tissue) reads...
"The HT Act is, however, silent on the sale of bodies, body parts or tissue for other purposes and such sales are therefore outside the remit of the HTA" with the exception that the sale of items of human tissue are not "visible to the public whilst on sale".
"A key principle on which the HT Act is based is that all bodies, body parts or tissue should be treated with respect and dignity. The HTA considers that the need to maintain dignity and respect is paramount in the handling of all human bodies and tissue."
Roughly translated... keeping human remains in a private collection is totally fine.
There are no U.S. Federal laws prohibiting you from owning human bones but a few states have made their own exceptions. For example, the states of Georgia, Tennessee, and New York have banned the import and export of human remains. A country wide ban is also in effect on the sale and purchase of Native American remains which are protected by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
eBay takes a different approach in its policy (https://www.ebay.co.uk/help/policies/prohibited-restricted-items/human-remains-body-parts-policy?id=4325) and states that "The sale of humans and human remains is prohibited by law, and sellers can't list them on eBay". This is simply NOT true, but if eBay doesn't want people to sell bones on their website that's their prerogative.
Etsy also has a policy against the sale of human remains (https://www.etsy.com/uk/legal/prohibited/#Q2)