Are you curious about how long it takes to complete the cremation process? In this article, we’ll explain the time required for the actual cremation and what can delay the receipt of your loved one’s cremated remains.

Overview of How Long Cremation Takes

  • The actual cremation takes around five to six hours to complete.
  • You may have to wait up to two weeks to receive your loved one’s remains.
  • There’s a waiting period and a lot of paperwork before cremation begins.

How Long Does It Take to Cremate a Body?

The physical process of cremation takes three to four hours. The actual length of time depends in part on the size of the body and the type of container used in the cremation chamber. Also, additional steps must be completed after the body is cremated, so the entire cremation process may take five to six hours.

How Long Does It Take to Receive My Loved One’s Cremated Remains?

It may take several days (or weeks) before you will be given your loved one’s remains.

Even though the process may only take a few hours, you may need to wait up to two weeks to receive your loved one’s ashes.

If the actual cremation only takes three hours, why do I need to wait longer to receive my loved one’s cremated remains?

For one thing, each state has a waiting period before a facility can cremate a body. For example, Pennsylvania and New Jersey have a 24-hour waiting period before cremation. 

Another reason it takes time to complete the cremation process is that there’s extensive paperwork involved in end-of-life matters.

how long cremation

Requirements that must be met before a body can be placed in the retort:

  1. A doctor or medical examiner must sign a death certificate. A delay in getting the death certificate signed may prolong the cremation process timeline. 
  2. The family must provide funeral directors with the following information about their deceased family member:
    • Full name of the deceased
    • Social security number
    • Date of birth
    • Birthplace
    • Last address
    • Whether the deceased served in the U.S. Armed Forces
    • Marital status at the time of death
    • If married, surviving spouse’s maiden name
    • Father’s name
    • Mother’s maiden name
    • Highest level of education
    • Sex
    • Race
    • Occupation and type of business/industry in which the deceased worked

Here is the paperwork that is filed with the state before the cremation can begin:

  1. The next-of-kin must sign a form to authorize cremation services
  2. Once the death certificate is completed and filed with the state, the state or local government will issue a cremation permit. Once this is obtained, the medical examiner will review all the paperwork and view the body before the actual cremation occurs. 

While the entire process may seem overwhelming, it’s entirely necessary. Several levels of proper authorization are required because cremation can’t be undone. Also, cremation is unlike burial. A buried body can be exhumed if any questions arise about the circumstances surrounding the death. 

Learn More About Cremation Wait Times

If you have recently lost a loved one, please call the Philadelphia Cremation Society. We offer direct cremation services in the Delaware Valley and the greater Philadelphia area and can tell you our current wait times.

We know the paperwork process may seem overwhelming to you – especially as you grieve the loss of your loved one. However, our crematorium prides itself on providing simple, easy-to-arrange cremation services in Philadelphia at an affordable cost.

Contact us today