Department of Health

Cremating bodily remains

Key messages

  • A cemetery trust and medical practitioner must authorise the cremation of human remains.
  • Bodily remains must be suitably enclosed in a coffin, container or receptacle for cremation.
  • Remains can be collected within 2 working days of cremation.
  • A right of interment and interment authorisation must be in place before cremated remains can be interred.

To cremate bodily remains, you must apply for authorisation. The steps are outlined below. The relevant section of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2003, or regulation or schedule of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Regulations 2015 are also shown.

Step 1: application for cremation authorisation

The funeral director (on behalf of the applicant) or the applicant fills out the following forms to make an application for cremation authorisation to a cemetery trust:

(ss. 131, 131(2), 138, 131(3); schedule 1; rr. 18 and 19)

Step 2: consideration and approval of application

A cemetery trust must check that the person making the application has the appropriate authority to do so. If cemetery trust is satisfied with the application they must grant the cremation authorisation. A cremation authorisation should be written. An approval cannot be granted if s. 137 of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2003 applies.

The funeral director or – in cases where an individual arranges a funeral, that individual – liaises with the cemetery trust to arrange a suitable time for the funeral service (if any).

Note that any person responsible for the conduct of a funeral must comply with any directions issued by the cemetery trust and must not initiate unsolicited contact with another person for the purpose of commercial activity.

(s. 133; r. 37)

Step 3: cremation

Remains submitted for cremation must be suitably enclosed in a coffin, container or receptacle that complies with requirements in r. 26. A trust may inspect a coffin and its contents to ensure that neither will impede the cremations process nor cause damage to the cremator.

Cremation takes place.

Note that it is an offence to cremate or assist in the cremation of bodily remains without a cremation authorisation. This offence is punishable by a maximum penalty of 600 penalty units or 5 years imprisonment, or both.

(s. 130; rr. 26-29)

Step 4: cremated remains following cremation

A cemetery trust must make cremated remains available for collection within 2 working days of the cremation. Cremated remains may only be released to the applicant, the applicant’s agent or, in certain circumstances, the nearest surviving relative.

Cemetery trusts should also update their records in relation to cremations as detailed in r. 10.

(rr. 10, 30, 31)

For cremated remains to be held for collection

If the cremated remains are not collected, the trust must hold them for at least 12 months (r. 31).

If the remains are not collected within 12 months, the trust may dispose of the remains provided that at least 3 months prior to the expiry of the 12 months they take reasonable steps to notify the applicant of their intention to dispose of the remains (r. 31).

For cremated remains to be interred

Is there a right of interment for the interment of the deceased’s cremated remains?

If yes, then no further action is needed.

If not, then applicant to make application to cemetery trust for right of interment to inter cremated remains:

  • Cemetery trust to issue right of interment. Note that a right of interment to inter cremated remains may be granted in perpetuity or for a period not exceeding 25 years (ss. 73, 74, 128).
  • Applicant to apply to cemetery trust for authority to inter cremated remains (ss. 77(3), 141).
  • Cemetery trust to update their records in relation to the interment of cremated remains, places of interment and rights of interment as detailed in rr. 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, and 15.

Reviewed 12 November 2021


Contact details

Hours: Monday to Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm

Cemetery Sector Governance Support GPO Box 4057, Melbourne , VIC 3001

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