Department of Health

Key messages

  • A medical practitioner must certify a death by completing the medical certificate of cause of death.
  • An unexpected death must be reported to police and is dealt with by the coroner.
  • Grief support services can help with the loss of a loved one.

When a death happens (that is not a death that must be reported to the coroner for investigation), the steps below are generally followed. Note: The information provided below is a guide only.

  • A medical practitioner completes the medical certificate of cause of death. They should know the deceased’s medical history, and be able to certify the cause and manner of death.
  • The deceased is transported to a mortuary, usually at a funeral home.
  • Interment or cremation of the deceased is arranged with a cemetery trust. Documentation requirements must be met, and relevant fees paid. 
  • A funeral service may be organised.
  • The deceased is placed in a coffin, container or receptacle that meets statutory requirements. For more information about the requirements for transporting bodily remains into a public cemetery see the Cemeteries and Crematoria Regulations 2015
  • The deceased is transported into the public cemetery as arranged with the cemetery trust.
  • The deceased is interred or cremated. A funeral service may be held at that time.
  • The death is registered with Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria

Note: If a death is unexpected it must be reported to police.

What does a funeral director do?

Funeral directors carry out services for the care and preparation of bodily remains for interment or cremation.They may also arrange and conduct funeral services.

More information about the role of a funeral director is available on the Australian Funeral Directors Association website.

Can I complete the steps outlined above without engaging the services of a funeral director?

Yes, the steps outlined above can be completed without the help of a funeral director. You may wish to consider the following options:

  • Transportation may be organised via a private patient transport provider.
  • Many hospitals have mortuaries on-site and may be able to store bodily remains.
  • There are several companies that sell coffins direct to the public. It is recommended that you confirm a coffin meets the requirements under the Cemeteries and Crematoria Regulations before purchase.
  • Cemetery trusts can explain documentation requirements and relevant fees. 
  • Some public cemeteries have function spaces that can be booked for funeral services. Alternatively, a funeral service may be held at a separate venue.
  • Individuals can register a death by contacting Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria

Important information for individuals arranging an interment of bodily remains without the help of a funeral director

An individual arranging the interment of bodily remains without the help of a funeral director takes on the responsibility for meeting all legislative requirements associated with conducting an interment, including health and safety. .

More information about safety in and around graves is available on the WorkSafe Victoria website.

Under the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2003, a cemetery trust may place conditions on an interment authorisation. For example this could be conditions on the type of equipment to be used to lower a coffin into a grave.

Reviewed 27 September 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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