Department of Health

Cremation authorisation

Key messages

  • An application for cremation authorisation must be made using the prescribed form.
  • An application for cremation authorisation must be submitted with the additional required documentation.
  • In exceptional circumstances when documentation requirements cannot be met, an application for cremation authorisation can be made to the department.

Application form

Under the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2003, a person who wishes bodily remains to be cremated in a crematorium at a public cemetery may apply to the responsible cemetery trust for a cremation authorisation.

To apply for cremation authorisation, the Application for cremation authorisation for deceased persons of known identity (Form 3) must be completed.

Additional required documentation

The Certificate of registered medical practitioner authorising cremation (Form 4) and a notice as required under s. 37(2) of the Births Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996 must be submitted with Form 3.

Form 3 and Form 4 are both prescribed under the Cemeteries and Crematoria Regulations 2015. The forms can be completed by hand or completed online and printed for signature.

Form 4 must always be submitted with an application for cremation authorisation unless the application relates to one of the following:

  • the cremation of a still-born child (to confirm that the application relates to a still-born child please check the 'Medical Certificate of Cause of Perinatal Death')
  • where an order has been made by a Coroner under s. 47 of the Coroners Act 2008
  • a deceased person who died interstate or overseas and for whom an authority to cremate has been issued by the Coroner (or other person permitted by the law of the jurisdiction where the deceased died to authorise the cremation).

In accordance with s. 138 of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act, Form 4 must be completed by a registered medical practitioner who is not the registered medical practitioner who completed the notice as required under s. 37(2) of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act in respect of the death of the deceased person who is to be cremated. For further information please refer to the Guidance notes for registered medical practitioners authorising cremation.

Form 4 is required to be submitted with an application for cremation authorisation in regards to neonatal deaths (defined by the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act as the death of a live-born child within 28 days after birth). The requirements are distinct from those for a still-born child because a still-born child is not born alive and therefore does not require a second independent doctor to enquire about and confirm the cause of death before authorising the cremation. Cemetery trusts and funeral directors should check Part 5, sections 23 and 24 of the 'Medical certificate of cause of perinatal death', to determine which type of death is being reported.

What if documentation requirements cannot be met?

In exceptional circumstances, when the prescribed documentation requirements outlined above cannot be met, an applicant may apply to the department for a cremation approval under s. 134 of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act.

This usually occurs when a Victorian resident has died overseas and the documents required under s. 131(3)(a)-(e) of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act are not available. 

Under these circumstances, a funeral director generally liaises with the department and, where necessary, the relevant international authorities on behalf of the deceased's family or representative.

Please note that certified translations of original documents must be provided for any foreign language documents relating to the application.

An application for cremation approval must include a completed Application for cremation authorisation for deceased persons of known identity (Form 3) together with documentation to enable the department to be satisfied that:

  • a medical cause of death has been confirmed by a relevantly qualified person
  • where appropriate, the circumstances surrounding the death were appropriately and thoroughly investigated by the authorities in the jurisdiction in which the deceased died
  • the family or representatives of the deceased are satisfied with the identified cause of death, and do not wish to report the death to the coroner (where this is the case a statutory declaration to this effect should be completed by the family).

The funeral director or applicant should provide the department with all available supporting information and documentation.

Where the department cannot satisfy itself in regard to the matters outlined above, it is likely that the death will be considered a 'reportable death' under the Coroners Act and will be reported to the Coroners Court of Victoria.

Where a report is made to the Coroners Court, the department will be unable to finalise its consideration for cremation approval until such time as the coroner has made a determination in regards to the death.

The length of time required by the department to process an application for cremation authorisation will vary depending on the circumstances and documentation available in each particular case. For this reason, cremation bookings should not be made prior to submitting an application for cremation approval to the department.

Reportable deaths

Under the Coroners Act, there is an obligation for any person who has reasonable grounds to believe that a reportable or reviewable death has not been reported to report it without delay to a coroner or the officer in charge of a police station.

Reportable and reviewable deaths are defined under ss. 4-5 of the Coroners Act.

Reportable deaths include:

  • those that are unexpected, unnatural or violent or arise from accident or injury
  • those that happen unexpectedly during or following a medical procedure
  • those that happen when the person who died was in 'custody or care'
  • when a doctor is not able to sign a death certificate
  • when the identity of the person is not known
  • a death that occurs at a place outside Victoria if the cause of death is not certified, or likely to be certified, by someone authorised to certify the death under the law in force in that place.

All enquiries about reportable and reviewable deaths should be directed to the Coroners Court of Victoria.

Radiopharmaceuticals in bodily remains

Bodily remains containing therapeutic amounts of radiopharmaceuticals are rarely encountered because treatment with radiopharmaceuticals is usually only given to patients who are not expected to die shortly after treatment. However, cemetery and crematorium workers, funeral directors, embalmers and coroners may occasionally be required to handle the remains of deceased persons who have recently been treated with a therapeutic radiopharmaceutical.

See information for people handling deceased persons containing radiopharmaceuticals.

For information about radiation risks, recommended work practice and current radiation legislation in Victoria, contact radiation.safety@health.vic.gov.au.

Reviewed 16 November 2022

Health.vic

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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