Vol. 29 Iss. 3 - October 08, 2012

Chapter 20
Emergency Regulation

Title of Regulation: 18VAC65-20. Regulations of the Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers (amending 18VAC65-20-436).

Statutory Authority: § 54.1-2400 of the Code of Virginia.

Effective Dates: October 1, 2012, through September 30, 2013.

Agency Contact: Lisa Russell Hahn, Executive Director, Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers, 9960 Mayland Drive, Suite 300, Richmond, VA 23233-1463, telephone (804) 367-4424, FAX (804) 527-4637, or email


Chapter 377 of the 2010 Acts of the Assembly provided the specific mandate to adopt regulations for identification of human remains as a prerequisite for cremation. The second enactment requires that the board promulgate regulations to implement the provisions of the act to be effective within 280 days of its enactment. Therefore, there is an "emergency situation" as defined in § 2.2-4011 of the Administrative Process Act.

The key provisions of the amended regulation are guidance on the identifiers that may be used for visual identification of the remains and the resources available to achieve positive identification if visual identification is not feasible.

In order to ensure authorization for cremation can be obtained in accordance with § 54.1-2818.1 as amended in 2010 and in a timely manner, the proposed regulation expands on the statutory mandate for visual identification, or if that is not feasible, positive identification. Visual identification may be accomplished by viewing unique identifiers or markings (tattoos, birth marks, etc.). If positive identification must be used, a crematory may consult with law enforcement for fingerprints, DNA, etc., with the local medical examiner, or with medical personnel at a hospital or other facility. With the amendments the board has adopted, the statute can be more clearly implemented and families or designated persons are able to achieve closure in a more humanely and timely manner. Proper identification of human remains prior to cremation is essential to the health, safety, and welfare of the public because it is necessary to ensure that misidentified or unidentified persons are not cremated. Cremation eliminates the possibility that a lost loved one could later be identified or that the remains may provide evidence in a criminal investigation.

18VAC65-20-436. Standards for registered crematories or funeral establishments that operate a crematory.

A. Authorization to cremate.

1. In accordance with § 54.1-2818.1 of the Code of Virginia, a crematory shall require a cremation authorization form executed in person or electronically in a manner that provides a copy of an original signature of the next-of-kin or his representative, who may be any person designated to make arrangements for the decedent's burial or the disposition of his remains pursuant to § 54.1-2825 of the Code of Virginia; an agent named in an advance directive pursuant to § 54.1-2984; or a sheriff, upon court order, if no next-of-kin, designated person, or agent is available.

2. The cremation authorization form shall include an attestation of visual identification of the deceased from a viewing of the remains or a photograph signed by the person making the identification. Visual identification may be made by viewing unique identifiers or markings on the remains. The identification attestation shall either be given on the cremation authorization form or on an identification form attached to the cremation authorization form.

3. In the event visual identification is not feasible, a crematory may use other positive identification of the deceased in consultation with law enforcement, a medical examiner, or medical personnel as a prerequisite for cremation pursuant to § 54.1-2818.1 of the Code of Virginia.

B. Standards for cremation. The following standards shall be required for every crematory:

1. Every crematory shall provide evidence at the time of an inspection of a permit to operate issued by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

2. A crematory shall not knowingly cremate a body with a pacemaker, defibrillator or other potentially hazardous implant in place.

3. A crematory shall not cremate the human remains of more than one person simultaneously in the same retort, unless the crematory has received specific written authorization to do so from the person signing the cremation authorization form.

4. A crematory shall not cremate nonhuman remains in a retort permitted by DEQ for cremation of human remains.

5. Whenever a crematory is unable to cremate the remains within 24 hours upon taking custody thereof, the crematory shall maintain the remains in refrigeration at approximately 40° Fahrenheit or less, unless the remains have been embalmed.

C. Handling of human remains.

1. Human remains shall be transported to a crematory in a cremation container and shall not be removed from the container unless the crematory has been provided with written instructions to the contrary by the person who signed the authorization form. A cremation container shall substantially meet all the following standards:

a. Be composed of readily combustible materials suitable for cremation;

b. Be able to be closed in order to provide complete covering for the human remains;

c. Be resistant to leakage or spillage; and

d. Be rigid enough for handling with ease.

2. No crematory shall require that human remains be placed in a casket before cremation nor shall it require that the cremains be placed in a cremation urn, cremation vault or receptacle designed to permanently encase the cremains after cremation. Cremated remains shall be placed in a plastic bag inside a rigid container provided by the crematory or by the next-of-kin for return to the funeral establishment or to the next-of-kin. If cremated remains are placed in a biodegradable container, a biodegradable bag shall be used. If placed in a container designed for scattering, the cremated remains may be placed directly into the container if the next-of-kin so authorized in writing.

3. The identification of the decedent shall be physically attached to the remains and appropriate identification placed on the exterior of the cremation container. The crematory operator shall verify the identification on the remains with the identification attached to the cremation container and with the identification attached to the cremation authorization. The crematory operator shall also verify the identification of the cremains and place evidence of such verification in the cremation record.

D. Recordkeeping. A crematory shall maintain the records of cremation for a period of three years from the date of the cremation that indicate the name of the decedent, the date and time of the receipt of the body, and the date and time of the cremation and shall include:

1. The cremation authorization form signed by the person authorized by law to dispose of the remains and the form on which the next-of-kin or the person authorized by § 54.1-2818.1 of the Code of Virginia to make the identification has made a visual identification of the deceased or evidence of positive identification if visual identification is not feasible;

2. The permission form from the medical examiner;

3. The DEQ permit number of the retort used for the cremation and the name of the retort operator; and

4. The form verifying the release of the cremains, including date and time of release, the name of the person and the entity to whom the cremains were released and the name of the decedent.

VA.R. Doc. No. R13-2543; Filed September 11, 2012, 1:06 p.m.