Who can make arrangements

Only certain people have the legal authority to decide what will happen to the body of the deceased person. In order of priority, they are:

  • an estate trustee, sometimes referred to as executor or executrix (the person named in the deceased person’s will or the person appointed by the court to administer the estate)
  • a spouse
  • adult children
  • parents of the deceased

If you are an estate trustee, expect to provide photo ID and proof of your authority (e.g., a will or court order) before you make arrangements.

Choosing a service provider

By law, cemetery, crematorium, funeral home, alternative disposition and transfer service operators must be licensed.

This doesn’t mean that you are legally obligated to choose certain supplies or services from only these providers. You can also buy supplies like caskets, monuments and markers from businesses that are not licensed.

Before buying, be sure to check and confirm the items will be accepted by the

  • funeral establishment operator
  • transfer service operator
  • cemetery operator
  • alternative disposition operator
  • crematorium operator

If you don’t use a provider

You do not have to use a funeral home or transfer service.

A family member of the deceased can arrange funeral services without a licence if they are not being paid.

You must first register the death with the local municipality. This is usually in the municipality where the death occurred. The death must be registered before a burial permit can be issued and a burial permit is needed for a cremation, burial or alkaline hydrolysis.

If you decide to have the body cremated, you can apply directly to the Office of the Chief Coroner for a cremation certificate.

If you are moving a body out of Ontario, you must apply directly for an out-of-province body shipment certificate. For more information, please visit the Office of the Chief Coroner website.

For more information about death care, you may contact:
Bereavement Authority of Ontario
Toll-free: 1-844-493-6356(toll free)
Toronto: 647-483-2645(Toronto area)
E-mail: info@thebao.ca
Website: thebao.ca

Embalming

In Ontario, there is no requirement to embalm a body. You may choose to wash and dress the body without embalming. However, embalming may be recommended to preserve a body between the time of death and time of visitation, burial, cremation or alkaline hydrolysis.

If a deceased person is being moved to another country, embalming may be required by the receiving country or by the company transporting the body (like an airline). Ask your funeral home, transportation company, and/or the destination country for more information.

Caskets

Some cemeteries will let you bury a body without a casket (e.g., in a shroud). It will depend on the cemetery’s by-laws.

For cremation, some crematorium by-laws only require that the deceased be in a rigid container. Some service providers will allow you to provide your own container for a cremation, alkaline hydrolysis or a burial as long as it is safe and meets the requirements of the cemetery, alternative disposition or crematorium operator.

If you are purchasing a casket from a licensed service provider, the provider must offer a range of caskets in different price ranges for you to choose from.

Not all caskets can be used for cremations, so make sure to check with your cremation service provider before you make a purchase.

Handling remains (cremation or alkaline hydrolysis)

In Ontario, you may:

  • buy rights to bury or scatter the remains from cremation or alkaline hydrolysis in a registered cemetery
  • buy rights to place the remains from cremation or alkaline hydrolysis in a niche within a columbarium in a registered cemetery.
  • columbarium is an above-ground structure that contains a number of niches. Placing the remains from cremation or alkaline hydrolysis in a niche is an interment, meaning a burial
  • scatter the remains from cremation or alkaline hydrolysis on private property with the consent of the land owner
  • if a land owner wants to allow repeated scatterings to take place on a specific piece of property, the landowner must establish that land as a cemetery and have a licensed cemetery operator for the cemetery
  • sign a contract with the licensed operator of a cemetery, crematorium, funeral home, alternative disposition facility or transfer service to scatter the remains of cremation or alkaline hydrolysis on your behalf
  • scatter the remains from cremation or alkaline hydrolysis on Crown land, including land covered by water, if it is unoccupied (for example provincial park, conservation reserve, Great Lakes) and there are no signs or postings that prohibit scattering
  • scatter the remains from cremation or alkaline hydrolysis on municipally-owned lands (contact the municipality to check if there are by-laws that prohibit scattering in certain areas such as municipal parks)
  • transport the remains from cremation or alkaline hydrolysis out of Ontario

Financial assistance

You can apply to your local municipality for assistance if you do not have enough money to pay for a funeral, transfer service, burial, alkaline hydrolysis or cremation.

You must apply for this financial assistance before you enter into a contract with a service provider, as you may not be eligible for assistance afterwards.

In these situations, there are usually financial limits associated with your choice of casket, urn or grave and services.

Questions or complaints

If you have any questions or complaints about a cemetery ,crematorium, alternative disposition operator or a funeral home:

  • first contact the cemetery, crematorium or alternative disposition operator or the funeral establishment or transfer operator
  • you can also contact the Bereavement Authority of Ontario