As you look for a cremation provider, you may wonder about the cremation laws in Philadelphia. Here’s what family members need to know before going to the funeral home or cremation provider.

Cremation Laws in Philadelphia

There are specific licensing and operational requirements to be considered an authorized crematory in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. However, these are some cremation service laws you need to be aware of as you choose a provider for your loved one.

You do not need to buy a traditional casket for cremation services.

Federal law requires a crematory or funeral home to inform you that you may use an alternative container for cremation – instead of a traditional casket that could be used for burial. Additionally, the funeral director must make these alternative containers available to you. They are typically made of unfinished wood, pressed wood, fiberboard, or heavy-duty cardboard.

Families need not buy a cremation urn or casket from the funeral home or cremation provider.

Instead, you can purchase an urn from another source. And the funeral home can’t charge any extra fees if you elect to use a cremation urn or casket purchased from another source.

Cremations can not take place until at least 24 hours after the death.

Please note that this does not mean you will always receive your loved one’s cremated remains within a few days after the death. Additionally, a public health official must sign the cremation permit before the actual cremation can occur.

In most cases, the body does not need to be embalmed before the cremation process.

Embalming is not required. However, it is highly recommended if you plan to have a visitation (or viewing or wake) with an open casket – followed by cremation. Some families choose to have the body cremated before the memorial service.

cremation provider

Only an authorizing agent can sign off on cremation services.

Some families disagree about their loved one’s method of disposition. The law dictates who can act as an authorizing agent in such circumstances.

A person can pre-arrange their services with a cremation provider – or name the person authorized to make such decisions. The spouse would have the next highest authority to sign off on cremation services, followed by the deceased’s adult children.

Only authorized individuals can order death certificates.

You must be in one of the following categories to order a death certificate in Pennsylvania – unless the death occurred 50 (or more) years ago.

  • an immediate family member of the deceased person
  • an extended family member who can show a direct relationship with the deceased person
  • a legal representative of the deceased’s estate
  • the deceased person’s power of attorney, or
  • any person who can demonstrate a direct interest in the record and prove that the document is necessary to determine a personal or property right

You can keep, inter, or scatter your loved one’s ashes.

Once the authorizing agent receives the cremated remains, they can choose what they want to do with them.

You can scatter them on private property with the permission of the owner. In addition, you can scatter ashes on public lands, such as parks, with the consent of local officials.

You can keep them in a container at home or use a tiny portion to create a cremation diamond or piece of glass artwork.

Many people – especially those from the Catholic Church, choose to bury cremated remains in cemeteries or place them in columbariums or mausoleums.

You can also pay to scatter in a scattering garden.

Federal law requires that scattering remains at sea only occurs three nautical miles from shore. You also cannot scatter ashes in lakes, streams, or any other local bodies of water.

Consider Advanced Planning with Philadelphia Cremation Society

If you choose cremation for your final disposition, make it easier on your family by pre-arranging direct cremation services. Philadelphia Cremation Society offers low-cost direct cremation services in and around Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Contact us today to discuss how you can save money on this process. Your family will thank you for it.

Key Takeaways About Philadelphia Cremation Laws

  • You can buy an alternative cremation container instead of a traditional casket. And you can choose to buy the container from another source instead of the funeral home or cremation provider.
  • There is a 24-hour waiting period before cremation can occur.
  • Embalming is not required by law – in most cases.
  • Cremation services must be approved by an authorizing agent or next of kin.
  • Only authorized agents can order death certificates.