Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for burial and cremation authorities

Published: 30 Oct 2020
Last updated: 27 Apr 2021 - see all updates

This guidance is for burial and cremation authorities to help manage their services and also their funeral services during the current pandemic.

14 page PDF

515.6 kB

14 page PDF

515.6 kB

Contents
Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for burial and cremation authorities
Collection of ashes

14 page PDF

515.6 kB

Collection of ashes

Collection of ashes

Collection of ashes by funeral directors or individuals from the crematorium must be in adherence to advice on physical distancing. Provision for ashes collection will be in agreement between the cremation authority and funeral director or individual.

Ashes handling - emergency legislative provisions 

Scottish Ministers published a determination under the UK Coronavirus Act 2020 on 8 April 2020  which suspends the effect of sections 53 to 55 of the 2016 Act and certain provisions of the Cremation (Scotland) Regulations 2019 in connection with duties for the handling of uncollected ashes. 

The determination provides that the duties in relation to uncollected ashes by cremation authorities and funeral directors (e.g. contacting applicants within certain timeframes) are suspended. The purpose of this suspension is to remove some of the administrative duties on cremation authorities and funeral directors, and also gives families more time to make their wishes known for the ashes before they are otherwise dispersed. For the duration of the determination, cremation authorities and funeral directors must retain any uncollected ashes, until they are either collected by the applicant or the determination is revoked. Once the suspension is lifted by Scottish Ministers, normal duties will resume for retained ashes. 

Cremation authorities and funeral directors can, of course, continue to contact applicants about uncollected ashes in the normal way, and within the set timeframes, if circumstances allow. 

Where a local authority is making arrangements for cremation under section 87 of the 2016 Act, we have introduced temporary changes to allow a local authority to make the decision not to take steps to ascertain how the ashes are to be disposed of.  They can choose to submit the cremation application form without making any declaration to that effect but still have the option to ask the next of kin about their wishes for the ashes.  The local authority is required to retain the ashes for the duration of the suspension and then attempt to trace family members to ascertain their wishes for the ashes, when the suspension is lifted.

These emergency provisions came into force on Wednesday 8 April 2020. These changes will remain in place until revoked by a subsequent determination of the Scottish Ministers under schedule 14 of the 2020 Act or the Act expires.
 


First published: 30 Oct 2020 Last updated: 27 Apr 2021 -