National Committee on Infant Cremation: code of practice

Key principles and minimum standards for all organisations conducting infant cremations, as agreed by the National Committee on Infant Cremation.


For the purposes of this document, the following definitions apply:

Signatory / Applicant

Application forms and other documentation must be signed by the person who has the legal right to do so. In most instances, this will be the nearest relative, although the law may recognise other persons, depending on the particular form or documentation.

Nearest relative

The 'nearest relative' is a legal definition, set out within Sections 46 and 47 of the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Bill. This sets out a list of people who can be regarded as the nearest relative in different situations.

Next of kin

The Code recognises that, regardless of who may be the official signatory or nearest relative, decisions will often be the result of discussions between several or many relatives of the child (see 'child' definition below). The term 'next of kin' is used to generally refer to the relatives involved in these discussions.


Lord Bonomy defined ashes as 'all that is left in the cremator at the end of the cremation process and following the removal of any metal'. This definition has been retained throughout the Code. To note that this differs substantively in wording, but not in its meaning or effect, from the legal definition set out in Section 36 of the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Bill, as follows:

'(1) In this Act, "cremation" means the reduction to ashes of human remains by the burning of the remains and the application to the burnt human remains of grinding or other processes.

(2) In this section-

"ashes" does not include metal,
"coffin" includes any type of receptacle,
"human remains" includes, where remains are clothed, in a coffin or with any other thing, the clothing, coffin or other thing.'

Shared cremation

Shared cremations are only for the cremation of pre 24 week pregnancy losses, and must be conducted as set out within Section 50 to 55 of the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Bill and in accordance with relevant Guidance from the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Nursing Officer for Scotland. Whilst the general standards and principles within these Code of Practice documents do encompass shared cremations, the restricted provision of this type of cremation means there are some sections of the Code where they are explicitly excluded.

Infant cremation

For reasons of clarity and brevity, the term 'infant cremation' is used at points within the document to encompass cremations relating to all of the below circumstances.

Child / infant

For reasons of brevity and of sensitivity, the term 'child' or 'infant' is used at points within the document to encompass all of the below circumstances.

Pregnancy loss

A pregnancy loss is delivered at less than 24 weeks' gestation, and has shown no signs of life on delivery.


A still-born is delivered at 24 weeks' gestation or more, and has shown no signs of life on delivery.

Neo-natal death

A death which occurs after the birth and within the first 28 days of life.

Infant death

A death which occurs after 28 days and before the end of the first year of life.



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