Have you thought about organising a burial funeral yourself?
Although a do it yourself funeral can be a very complex and risky undertaking, it can also be very rewarding. Although not recommended, some people find it helps them come to terms with the death of a loved one.
In this post we discuss the complex issue of DIY Burials. Whilst every effort has been made to provide accurate information, we are aware that the laws and policies for a DIY Burial will vary in each State. It is recommended that you contact your preferred cemetery and managing authority in your State for specific requirements.
Things to consider before you undertake a DIY Burial
It is possible to organise a burial funeral yourself, without using a funeral director, providing you obtain a Single Funeral Permit and comply with the relevant State requirements. By obtaining a Single Funeral Permit you become the ‘Funeral Director’ and it is your responsibility to arrange all permits and applications as well as all other matters associated with the funeral.
‘Some of the tasks involved in conducting your own funeral may be distressing and it is not advisable to try to do it all yourself. Ask another family member or friend for help or alternatively use the services of a funeral director.’
Before The Burial Can Take Place
It will be necessary for you to follow a number of important steps in order to comply with the relevant State requirements.
Obtain a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death
A Medical Certificate of Cause of Death is required from the doctor who certified the death.
This can be done at the time the doctor certifies, or alternatively by arranging to collect it from his surgery. If the death is subject to a Coronial investigation, a Coroner’s Certificate is issued by the Coroner’s Office.
In the case of a stillborn death, a Medical Certificate of Cause of Stillborn or Neonatal Death replaces the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (available from the hospital where the death occurred).
Apply for a Single Funeral Permit
The requirements relating to Single Funeral Permits are generally governed by Cemeteries Acts, Cemetery By-laws and other laws in each State. An application for a Single Funeral Permit must be completed and returned to the managing authority together with the relevant fees. Proof of securing Public Liability insurance may also be required.
The application form will outline your responsibilities and the terms and conditions for taking charge of the funeral arrangements as if you were a licensed funeral director.
Your responsibilities will include:
- Identification and preparation of the deceased
- Planning the funeral
- Making adequate transport arrangements
- Conducting the funeral on the day
- Compliance with the terms and conditions set out in the Single Funeral Permit by the relevant managing authority.
Conditions prescribed by the managing authorities in each State may include the following:
- The applicant must be over 18 years of age and provide their full given names and surname on all documentation.
- Arrangements that meet the required health regulations are made for the safe holding of the body prior to the burial/cremation.
- A suitable coffin or casket is obtained for the deceased person named on the permit.
- All necessary forms are completed showing the deceased person’s legal surname and given names in full.
- Provision of a suitable and respectable vehicle to transport the body and coffin within the cemetery.
Does your application relate to a new grave?
If your application relates to a new grave, you may be required to complete a Digging Requisition form with the details of the deceased and grave details required. It is generally a requirement that the completed, signed and dated form is provided to the cemetery 48 hours prior (or earlier) to the funeral date.
Graves are generally allocated in the current working area of the cemetery unless stated on the Digging Requisition form.
If you wish to select a specific grave site, you will need to liaise with the cemetery beforehand. There is an additional cost for your selection.
Does your application relate to the re-opening of an existing grave?
If your application relates to the re-opening of an existing grave, you will need to advise the cemetery, usually on the Digging Requisition form.
A Grant of Right of Burial for the grave to be reopened must be current. If the Grant of Right of Burial has expired, you must contact the relevant cemetery who will be able to advise you of specific requirements to be met.
Book the Funeral
Once your application has been approved, it will then be necessary for you to book the day and time of the funeral with the cemetery.
At the time of the booking you will generally be asked to provide the following information:
- Your name, phone and fax number or email address.
- Confirmation that you have a current Single Funeral Permit
- Name of the cemetery where you require the booking
- Date and time you require the funeral to take place (you should have a second choice ready in the event your preferred time may not be available)
- The deceased’s legal surname and first name/s
- Date of death and age of the deceased
Obtain a Burial Application Number
A burial application number will then be provided to you by the managing authority. The burial application number is to accompany all paperwork relating to the deceased.
Organise the Coffin
A substantial coffin is required for burial bearing the name of the deceased person stamped in legible characters on a metal plate on the lid of the coffin. A lead strip with the name of the deceased must be placed under the nameplate on the coffin/casket.
It is recommended that you contact one of the local coffin suppliers or alternatively a Funeral Director to purchase a recommended coffin.
You will need to ensure that you have a suitably enclosed transport vehicle, together with a cover for the coffin.
Coffins cannot be transported uncovered, on top of a vehicle, in a trailer or open backed vehicle.
On The Day Of The Funeral
On the day of the funeral, you will need to have obtained and prepared the coffin and ensure that you have all the necessary paperwork to meet the relevant State and cemetery requirements.
Provide An Identification Form
You will also be required to provide an Identification Form. This form requires you to certify that the body in the coffin is in fact the deceased person named on the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, and whose name appears on the metal plate on the lid of the coffin.
This identification process is to be done prior to the coffin being sealed.
List of paperwork required at time of burial is as follows:
- Application for Single Funeral Permit
- Application for Burial Form
- Medical Certificate of Cause of Death
- Identification Form
- Proof of purchase of Public Liability insurance
- Proof of Payment of relevant cemetery fees
Registration Of Death
Under the relevant Births, Deaths Marriages Registration Act in each State, you are required to register the death of the deceased with the relevant Office of the Registry General, Births Deaths and Marriages. The registration of the death is generally required to be completed within seven days of the funeral.
What documentation do I need?
The following documentation needs to be presented to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
Death Registration Paper
- Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, or Medical Certificate of Cause of Stillborn or Neonatal Death or Coroner’s Certificate
- Death Certificate Application (if you require a Certified Death Certificate)
- In the case of a Stillborn, a Birth Information Paper must also be lodged
How long does it take for the death to be registered?
Lodging a death takes approximately two weeks to be registered.
Once registered the applicant may lodge a Death Certificate Application form with the relevant Registry for a Certificate of Death Registration (commonly known as a Certified Death Certificate). Death Certificates usually take from 3-7 days to be issued and there is a fee charged for the document by the Registrar.
Learn more about organising a funeral in Australia
eziFunerals supports individuals and families cope with end of life decisions, death and funerals. We are an independent, Australian-owned and operated company, and are not a subsidiary of any other corporation. We do not conduct funerals and we are not part of any other funeral company.