Burial and Cremation Regulations in Virginia

By: Jacklyn Hutchens
Monday, November 30, 2020

Different states have varying mandates regarding the final disposition of the deceased. Postmortem laws cover services like embalming, burial, cremation, and scattering ashes. Some regulations specific to the state of Virginia include:

Embalming in Virginia

According to the Virginia code, section 54.1-2811.1., the body of a deceased person must stay under refrigeration or undergo embalming if burial or cremation is not possible within 48 hours. However, the funeral home needs authorization from the next of kin or a court order before proceeding with the embalming.

Caskets in Virginia

The state or federal law does not require caskets or coffins. Federal law even mandates that funeral homes and crematoriums inform the families of the deceased that there are casket and coffin substitutes, which include unfinished wood, wicker, or cardboard. Nevertheless, it’s always best to check the policies of the cemeteries and crematoriums first because they might have specific rules regarding alternative containers.

Burying the Dead in Virginia

Cemeteries are often the venue for burials but, in Virginia, it is also possible to have a final internment place on private property. The concerned party must first go to the town or county clerk and health department for the specific regulations on home burials.

The paperwork should include the map of the entire land with the exact internment site specified. Filing the map, permits, and other documents with the property deed is also necessary.

Scattering Ashes in Virginia

Families commonly keep the cremation urn in a columbarium niche, buried in a grave, or stored at home. Since there is no public health risk from ashes, no particular law regulates where ashes are kept or scattered. Although private, public, and federal lands, such as parks and state facilities, may have their own set of rules.

The federal Clean Water Act requires the family to contact the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) within 30 days before dispersing ashes at seas, rivers, or lakes at least three nautical miles from land. It is best to contact the EPA representative in Virginia for more information. Scattering ashes by air is also not against the law, as long as it does not include other objects that might harm people or property.

Funeral and Cremation Experts in Virginia

Direct Cremation Services of Virginia provides affordable and caring assistance regarding funerals and cremations in Virginia. Contact us today for more information on a worry-free burial or cremation.

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