Cremation laws in the USA

Cremation laws in the USA



As the fresh statistics show that cremation is on the rise in the USA, more and more people checks the disposing regulations in their state. Information as how long after the death a cremation can be performed, what kind of certificates are needed or am I allowed to keep an urn with ashes at home, are questions that many people try to find online. You should be aware that every state has its own regulations but there are some common similarities that we found and we would like to share with you:


  1. Fulfilment of an authorisation form

If you consider a cremation, the closest family member must sign a cremation an authorisation form or declaration for disposing the cremated remains.  In some states, this is referred as an “authorisation agent”. The legal representative should be the spouse, adult children, first cousins or any other adult relative. In cases that the legal next of kin is more than one person, all of the authorisations agents must all agree to sign the cremation form.

  1. A cremation permit

After the cremation authorisation form have been signed, the country in which the cremation is going to take place would issue a “cremation permit” or “disposing permit” , that would serves the crematorium or the funeral home to perform the cremation. Generally, in most of the states you would need to pay a fee for issuing the permit added to the death certificate that will not be more that $10 to $40.

  1. Cremation waiting period

According to the federal regulations quoted in this website, every state has different waiting period in which the cremation should be performed. Usually there is at least 24-hour period after the death that the institutions cannot carry out an incineration. For example, the waiting period in State of New York the death certificate and filling it in the local register would that up to 72 hours during this time the officials cannot incinerate the death body. In cases that there is a health concerns the body will be disposed immediately.


  1. The process of cremation

The crematoriums and the funeral homes are following some strict standards that would ensure that the dispositions are conducted morally. As the procedure is taking place, just one body can be cremated at a time, whereas the cremation chamber should be properly cleaned. In order to exclude the cremation practice from any faults the funeral staff is obligated to issue a tag laid next to the deceased. In cases that the any implants are found anywhere on the body they are surgically removed and in most cases embalming is not required.

The cremation process takes about from one to four hours depending on the machine type and the cremated remains usually are measured from 3 pounds to 9 pounds (1.5 kg to 4 kg). 

Lastly there is no particular requirement stipulates that the family has to supply the funeral home with a casket. However, there are some fixed guidelines for the cremains’ container. This can be any rigid, combustible container and these days a rigid cardboard or laminate container is commonly used.

  1. The cremation process

Observation of the cremation process would be possible since most of the crematoriums have their doors open for the family members. If you and/or your relatives consider the idea of attending the ceremony, our best advice is to check, your funeral desires with the closest burial executor.


  1. Cremated remains (cremains)

Most of the states does not have harsh rules about the preservation of the cremains. In most cases after the cremation, the ashes can be:

  • Transported (Link)
  • Kept in a urn for ashes at home (Link);
  • Scattered in designated areas or public or private land with acquiring the proper permission
  • Buried along with the urn for ashes;
  • Position it in a columbarium niche or in a garden;

 Nevertheless, it would be best if you check the specific law for your state here.