Infant cremation code of practice: third edition (2019)

Key principles and minimum standards for all organisations conducting infant cremations in Scotland, as agreed by the National Committee on Burial and Cremation. This edition reflects the implementation of the Cremation (Scotland) Regulations 2019.

Code of Practice Level 2 - Funeral Directors


1. This Code of Practice contains the professional standards that funeral directors must uphold in respect of arrangements for infant and child cremation. Funeral directors must act in line with the requirements of the Code, whether they are communicating directly with parents or allied organisations, to ensure consistency of approach.

2. The Code's series of statements aim to set out best practice that puts the needs of parents and families first. Following the Code will provide additional assurance to parents and families that they can place their trust and confidence in the hands of funeral directors.

3. This Code relates primarily to individual infant cremations, but also applies to shared cremation where relevant. Funeral directors who have an arrangement (e.g. transportation) with an NHS Health Board regarding shared cremation or burial services should ensure they are adhering to that health board's designated required standards.

Code of Practice


4. Parents must be treated as individuals and the dignity of the deceased must be maintained. To achieve this, funeral directors must:

4.1 Treat parents with sensitivity, kindness, respect and compassion.

4.2 Ensure trained funeral service staff communicate sensitively with, meet with, listen to and follow the wishes of the parents, allowing time for decision-making based on a clear understanding of e.g. the choice between burial and cremation and other funeral options, without undue haste or pressure.

4.3 Ensure the fundamentals of care of the deceased and the arrangements for the funeral are carried out in accordance with the needs of the parents (clients), within the parameters of the law.

4.4 Avoid making any assumptions, check understanding and recognise diversity and individual choice.

4.5 Respect the dignity and care of the deceased.

4.6 Discuss options (where applicable) with parents for shared cremation.

4.7 Organise and personalise the funeral to reflect the wishes of the parents within the parameters of the law.

4.8 Offer parents the choice of a private family funeral or the option to open the funeral service to all.

4.9 Respect a parent's right to privacy in all aspects of the care of their baby, infant or child.


5. A family's decision on whether to cremate or bury can be affected by whether ashes can be retrieved and returned to them afterwards. For this reason, funeral directors must:

5.1 Be aware, and advise the family if applicable, that the accepted definition of 'ashes' is now 'the material (other than any metal) to which human remains are reduced by cremation'. "Human remains" includes, where remains are clothed, in a coffin or with any other things, the clothing, coffin or other thing.

5.2 Make clear to the family, if there is contact with them, that ashes from shared cremations are scattered together and therefore it is not possible to return ashes in this instance.

5.3 Make clear to the family that whilst crematoriums will make every effort to maximise the recovery and return of ashes from individual cremations, this cannot be absolutely guaranteed.

5.4 Openly communicate all scenarios surrounding the retention and ultimate sensitive disposition of any retained ashes.

5.5 Ensure the decision as to whether ashes are returned (if recovered) is made by the parents.

Allied Organisations

6. Funeral directors are recognised as the vital link between other allied organisations and parents, therefore it is vital that funeral directors are well-versed and familiar with their procedures following the loss of a baby, infant or child. To achieve this, funeral directors must:

6.1 Ensure local processes are in place to enable regular contact and discussion with all allied organisations such as crematoriums, health trusts and boards, NHS and children's hospices.

6.2 Regularly meet with partner crematoriums to ensure staff are fully aware of any differing equipment or processes which could affect the possibility of recovery of ashes.

6.3 Seek collaboration and communication to ensure clients receive transparent information in order to reach an informed decision e.g. inclusion of appropriate extracts from cremation authority published policy statements in public facing leaflets.

6.4 Care should always be taken if organ retention or further testing is required and factored into the timing of the service.

Training and Administration

7. Funeral directors must:

7.1 Have the knowledge of how the selected crematorium carries out pre and post 24 week gestation, stillbirth and infant cremations.

7.2 Ensure staff are trained according to the requirements of this Code of Practice.

7.3 Ensure a full copy of all signed documentation is given to parents.

7.4 Ensure that parents (the client/applicant) complete and sign the appropriate cremation documentation accordingly.

7.5 Ensure accurate records are maintained and retained.

7.6 Disposal of ashes must be in accordance with the instructions on the cremation application form and as set out in the Cremation (Scotland) Regulations 2019.



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