Cremation Laws in the USA - 2023 Guide

USA Flag waving. Cremation Laws in the USA article by Pulvis Art Urns.

As the recent statistics show that cremation is on the rise in the USA, more and more people need to know what are they allowed to do with the ashes, should they store or scatter them. As a body is completely reduced to just ashes in the cremation process, there are quite strict laws governing both the cremation process and the further disposal of ashes. Crematories has their own strict requirements, regulated by state law, just like the cemeteries do.

Cremation is a legal method of disposition in the United States, and laws regarding cremation vary by state. In general, state laws require that a deceased person's remains be cremated by a licensed crematory operator and that certain procedures be followed to ensure the proper identification of the remains.

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Since each state has its own laws regarding of funeral and cremation services,(see the end of the article) we've decided to gather this information here so you can easily check the requirements when you need.

Knowing the FTC Funeral Rule 

 This rule, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States, allows you to choose only services and goods you want and to pay for them, whether you are making pre-arrangements or at the time of death. Besides the right to buy funeral stuff that you want, this rule allows you to get price information from funeral homes on the phone, without giving your details. Funeral homes are obliged to give you a written, itemised price list when you visit them on site so you can choose carefully. The rule, however, does not apply to third-party sellers, such as casket and memorials dealers. Visit the official site to learn more about the FTC Funeral Rule

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.

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.

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Cremation Waiting Period

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.

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.

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.

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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;


2023 Updates - What's New? 

In 2023, some new laws will impact those at the end of life or the people caring for, or grieving, them.

 Paid leave

For those who need time off of work to have a child, care for a sick loved one or deal with their own serious medical issues, there’s a new program in Oregon starting this September.

Human composting in New York

New York is the latest state to allow “organic reduction” also known as “human composting.” The state joins five others that have approved it: California,Oregon, Colorado, Vermont and Washington. 

Caregiving and Bereavement leave

California has a new law requiring most private and public employers grant employees up to five unpaid days of bereavement leave after the death of a family member. The request must be accepted by the employer as long as it is within 3 months of the death of a loved one and satisfies the other requirements. California’s governor also recently signed into law AB-2673, a bill that tightens regulation of the state’s hospices and extends its earlier moratorium on granting new licenses to hospice providers. 


Cremation Laws by State  

Alabama cremation laws - contacts :

Alabama Board of Funeral Service
P.O. Box 309522
UPS: 11 S. Union Street, Suite 204
Montgomery, AL 36130
Phone: 334-242-4049
Fax: 334-353-7988
Contact Person
Charles Perine, Executive Secretary

Alaska cremation laws - contacts :

Karl Marx, Licensing Examiner
Division of Corporations, Business & Professional Licensing
P.O. Box 110806
Juneau, AK 99811-0806
Phone: 907-465-5470
Fax: 907-465-2974

Arizona cremation laws - contacts :

Rodolfo Thomas, Executive Director
Arizona State Board of Funeral Directors & Embalmers
1400 W. Washington, Suite 230
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Phone: 602-542-3095
Fax: 602-542-3093

Arkansas cremation laws - contacts :

Amy Goode, Executive Secretary
Arkansas State Board of Embalmers & Funeral Directors
101 E. Capitol, Suite 113
Little Rock, AR 72201
Phone: 501-682-0574
Fax: 501-682-0575

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California cremation laws - contacts :

Lisa M. Moore, Bureau Chief
Cemetery and Funeral Bureau
1625 N. Market Boulevard, Suite S-208
Sacramento, CA 95834
Phone: 916-574-7870
Fax: 916-574-7988

Colorado cremation laws - contacts :

Wendy Anderson, Program Director
Department of Regulatory Agencies
1560 Broadway, Suite 1350
Denver, CO 80202
Phone: 303-894-7754
Fax: 303-894-7692

Connecticut cremation laws - contacts :

Stephen Carragher, Health Programs Supervisor
Connecticut Department of Public Health
Embalmer and Funeral Director Licensing
P.O. Box 340308
Hartford, CT 06134
UPS: 410 Capitol Ave, MS #13 PHO
Hartford, CT 06134
Phone: 860-509-7603
Fax: 860-509-8457

Delaware cremation laws - contacts :

Sheyl Paquette, Board Lianson
Division of Professional Regulation
Cannon Building, Suite 203
861 Silver Lake Blvd.
Dover, DE 19904
Phone: 302-744-4500
Fax: 302-739-2711

Washington DC cremation laws - contacts :

Kevin Cyrus, Board Liaison
Occupational & Professional Licensing Administration
Board of Funeral Directors
1100 4th Street SW, Suite 500E
Washington, D.C. 20024
Phone: 202-442-4339
Fax: 202-698-4329

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Florida cremation laws - contacts :

Doug Shropshire, Division Director
Department Financial Services
Division of Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services
200 E. Gaines Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0361
Phone: 850-413-3039
Fax: 850-413-4958

Georgia cremation laws - contacts :

Steve Lindsey, Executive Director
Georgia State Board of Funeral Service
237 Coliseum Drive
Macon, Georgia 31217
Phone: 478-207-2440
Fax: 866-888-8026

Hawaii cremation laws - contacts :

Peter Oshiro, Program Manager
Sanitation Branch – Department of Health
591 Ala Moana Boulevard
Honolulu, HI 96813
Phone: 808-586-8000
Fax: 808-586-8040

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Idaho cremation laws - contacts :

Erin Anderson, Technical Records Specialist 1
Idaho Board of Morticians
Bureau of Occupational Licenses
700 W State St
PO Box 83720
Boise, ID 83720-0063
Phone: 208-334-3233
Fax: 208-334-3945

Illinois cremation laws - contacts :

Keri J. Ginger, Board Liaison
Illinois Dept. of Financial & Professional Regulation
Division of Professional Regulation
320 W. Washington Street, 3rd Floor
Springfield, IL 62786
Phone: 217-785-5966
Fax: 217-782-7645

Indiana cremation laws - contacts :

Tracy Hicks, Director
Indiana Professional Licensing Agency
402 W. Washington Street, Room W072
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Phone: 317-234-3031
Fax: 317-233-4236

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Iowa cremation laws - contacts :

Susan Reynolds, Board Administrator
Bureau of Professional Licensure
Iowa Department of Public Health
Lucas State Office Building, 5th Floor
321 E. 12th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319-0075
Phone: 515-281-5234
Fax: 515-281-3121

Kansas cremation laws - contacts :

Mack Smith, Executive Secretary
Kansas State Board of Mortuary Arts
700 S.W. Jackson Street, Suite 904
Topeka, KS 66603-3733
Phone: 785-296-3980
Fax: 785-296-0891

Kentucky cremation laws - contacts :

Letricia Chandler, Executive Director
Kentucky Board of Embalmers & Funeral Directors
8412 Westport Road
Louisville, KY 40242
Phone: 502-426-4589
Fax: 502-426-4117

Louisiana cremation laws - contacts :

Kim W. Michel, Executive Director
State Board of Embalmers & Funeral Directors
3500 N. Causeway Boulevard, Suite 1232
Metairie, LA 70002-3527
Phone: 504-838-5109
Fax: 504-838-5112

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Maine cremation laws - contacts :

Torrey Gray, Board Administrator | Jennifer Hawk, Board Clerk
Maine State Board of Funeral Service
35 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0035
UPS: 122 Northern Ave., Gardiner Annex
Gardiner, ME 04345
Phone: 207-624-8626
Fax: 207-624-8637

Maryland cremation laws - contacts :

Ruth Ann Arty, Executive Director
Maryland Department of Health & Mental Hygiene
4201 Patterson Avenue, 5ht Floor
Baltimore, MD 21215
Phone: 410-764-4792
Fax: 410-358-6571

Massachusetts cremation laws - contacts :

Helen Peveri, Executive Director
Board of Embalming & Funeral Directing
1000 Washington Street, 7th Floor
Boston, MA 02118
Phone: 617-727-1718
Fax: 617-727-1627

Michigan cremation laws - contacts :

Sarah Rock, Licensing Analyst
Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
Corporations, Securities, & Commericial Licensing Bureau – Licensing Division
Board of Examiners in Mortuary Science
P.O. Box 30018
Lansing, MI 48909
Phone: 517-241-9288
Fax: 517-373-2162

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Minnesota cremation laws - contacts :

Darcy Miner, Dvision Director
Department of Health, Compliance Monitoring Division
Mortuary Science Section
P.O. Box 64882
St. Paul, MN 55164-0882
UPS: 85 East Seventh Place, Suite 300
St. Paul, MN 55101
Phone: 651-201-3829
Fax: 651-201-3839

Mississippi cremation laws - contacts :

Dolores B. Kenney, Executive Director
Mississippi State Board of Funeral Service
3010 Lakeland Cove, Suite W
Flowood, MS 39232
Phone: 601-932-1973
Fax: 601-932-1901

Missouri cremation laws - contacts :

Sandy Sebastian, Executive Director
Missouri State Board of Embalmers & Funeral Directors
P.O. Box 423
3605 Missouri Boulevard
Jefferson City, MO 65109
Phone: 573-751-0813
Fax: 573-751-1155

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Montana cremation laws - contacts :

Cheryl Brandt, Board Administrator
Board of Funeral Service
P.O. Box 200513
Helena, MT 59620-0513
UPS: 301 South Park, 4th Floor
Helena, MT 59620
Phone: 406-841-2394
Fax: 406-841-2305

Nebraska cremation laws - contacts :

Kris Chiles, Section Administrator
Board of Funeral Directing and Embalming
P.O. Box 94986
Lincoln, NE 68509-4986
UPS: 301 Centennial Mall South
Lincoln, NE 68508
Phone: 402-471-2117
Fax: 402-471-3577
2017 Statutes:

Nevada cremation laws - contacts :

Diane L. Shaffer, Secretary
Nevada State Funeral Board
PMB186, 4894 W. Lone Mountain Road
Las Vegas, NV 89130
Phone: 702-290-5366

New Hampshire cremation laws - contacts :

Susan M. Russell, Executive Director
Board of Registration of Funeral Directors and Embalmers
29 Hazen Drive
Concord, NH 03301
Phone: 603-271-4648
Fax: 603-271-5056

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New Jersey cremation laws - contacts :

William Mandeville, Executive Director
State Board of Mortuary Science of New Jersey
P.O. Box 45009
UPS: 124 Halsey Street, 6th Floor
Newark, NJ 07101
Phone: 973-504-6425
Fax: 973-648-2855

New Mexico cremation laws - contacts :

Roberta Perea, Administrator
New Mexico Board of Funeral Services
P.O. Box 25101
Santa Fe, NM 87504
UPS: 2550 Cerrillos Rd.
Santa Fe, NM 87505
Phone: 505-476-4604
Fax: 505-476-4665

New York cremation laws - contacts :

Deborah H. Orecki, Director
Department of Health – Bureau of Funeral Directing
875 Central Ave.
Albany, NY 12206
Phone: 518-402-0785
Fax: 518-402-0784

North Carolina cremation laws - contacts :

Peter M. Burke, CFSP, Executive Director
North Carolina Board of Funeral Service
1033 Wade Avenue, Suite 108
Raleigh, NC 27605-1158
Phone: 919-733-9380, x105
Fax: 919-733-8271

North Dakota cremation laws - contacts :

Dale G. Niewoehner, Executive Secretary
North Dakota State Board of Funeral Service
P.O. Box 161
Rugby, ND 58368-0161
Phone: 701-776-6222
Fax: 701-776-2546

Ohio cremation laws - contacts :

Vanessa Niekamp, Executive Director
Board of Embalmers & Funeral Directors
77 South High Street, 16th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-6108
Phone: 614-466-4252
Fax: 614-728-6825

Oklahoma cremation laws - contacts :

Mark Riley, Executive Director
Oklahoma Funeral Board
4545 N. Lincoln Boulevard, Suite 175
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
Phone: 405-522-1790
Fax: 405-522-1797

Oregon cremation laws - contacts :

Michelle Gaines, Executive Director
Oregon Mortuary & Cemetery Board
800 N.E. Oregon Street, Suite 430
Portland, OR 97232-2195
Phone: 971-673-1507
Fax: 971-673-1501

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Pennsylvania cremation laws - contacts :

Heidi Weirich , Board Administrator
Pennsylvania State Board of Funeral Directors
P.O. Box 2649
Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649
UPS: 2601 N. Third Street
Harrisburg, PA 17110
Phone: 717-783-3397
Fax: 717-705-5540

Rhode Island cremation laws - contacts :

Maureen Slowik, Administrator
State Board of Funeral Directing/Embalming
Department of Health, Room 104
3 Capitol Hill
Providence, RI 02908-5097
Phone: 401-222-2828
Fax: 401-222-1272

South Carolina cremation laws - contacts :

Doris Cubitt, Administrator | Jeanie Rose, Administrative Assistant
South Carolina Board of Funeral Service
P.O. Box 11329
Columbia, SC 29211
UPS: 110 Centerview Drive, Suite 104
Columbia, SC 29210
Phone: 803-896-0379
Fax: 803-896-4554

South Dakota cremation laws - contacts :

Carol Tellinghuisen, Executive Secretary
State Board of Funeral Service
810 N. Main #298
Spearfish, SD 57783
UPS: 629 Main St.
Spearfish, SD 57783
Phone: 605-642-1600
Fax: 605-642-1006

Tennessee cremation laws - contacts :

Robert B. Gribble, Executive Director
Board of Funeral Directors & Embalmers
500 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, TN 37243-1144
Phone: 615-741-5062
Fax: 615-532-1903

Texas cremation laws - contacts :

Executive Director
Texas Funeral Service Commission
P.O. Box 12217, Capitol Station
Austin, TX 78711-1440
UPS: 333 Guadalupe St, 2-110
Austin, TX 78701
Phone: 512-936-2474
Fax: 512-479-5064

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Utah cremation laws - contacts :

Dan S. Jones, Bureau Manager | Ann Naegelin, Board Secretary
Utah Board of Funeral Service
P.O. Box 146741
Salt Lake City, UT 84114-6741
UPS: 160 East 300 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Phone: 801-530-6628
Fax: 801-530-6511

Vermont cremation laws - contacts :

Danielle Rubalcaba, Licensing Board Specialist
Vermont Board of Funeral Service
Office of Professional Regulation
89 Main St., 3rd Floor
Montpelier, VT 05620-3402
Phone: 802-828-1501
Fax: 802-828-2465

Virginia cremation laws - contacts :

Lisa Hahn, Executive Director
Perimeter Center
Department of Health Professions
9960 Mayland Drive, Ste. 300
Richmond, VA 23233
Phone: 804-367-4479
Fax: Fax Number: 804-527-4413

Washington cremation laws - contacts :

Lorin Doyle, Administrator | Jeanne Todd, Program Coordinator
Department of Licensing
Funeral & Cemetery Office
P.O. Box 9012
Olympia, WA 98507-9012
UPS: 405 Black Lake Boulevard
Olympia, WA 98502
Phone: 360-664-1555
Fax: 360-664-1495

West Virginia cremation laws - contacts :

Regina Foster, Executive Director
West Virginia Board of Funeral Service Examiners
179 Summers Street, Suite 305
Charleston, WV 25301
Phone: 304-558-0302
Fax: 304-558-0660

Wisconsin cremation laws - contacts :

Dan Williams, Executive Director | Judy Mendor, Credentialing
Wisconsin Funeral Directors Examining Board
Department of Safety and Professional Services
P.O. Box 8935
Madison, WI 53708-8935
UPS: 1400 E. Washington Avenue
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: 608-266-2112
Fax: 608-267-3816

Wyoming cremation laws - contacts :

JoAnn Reid, Licensing Director
Wyoming State Board of Embalming
2800 Central Avenue
Cheyenne, WY 82002
Phone: 307-777-5403
Fax: 307-777-3508

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