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What are the burial regulations in California?

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Quick Answer

California does not require embalming or the use of outer burial containers, reports the Cemetery and Funeral Bureau of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. Natural burial is permitted by the state, but the use of outer containers or natural burial is legally determined by each cemetery. Burial must occur in an established cemetery, and regulations for home burial are under the discretion of local municipalities, notes the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Southern California.

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Full Answer

California law requires all burials to take place in established cemeteries, where determinations about the need for outer burial containers, such as vaults or grave liners, are made. The allowance of natural, green or eco-friendly burials and multiple-depth graves (i.e., graves with more than one occupant) are also made by the cemetery owners and operators, reports the Cemetery and Funeral Bureau. Embalming is not required by state law unless a body is transported across state lines. However, provisions do exist to forgo this regulation and can be discussed with a funeral services provider.

The California Department of Consumer Affairs requires funeral homes and cemeteries to provide all potential customers with the "Consumer Guide to Funeral and Cemetery Purchases" pamphlet, and providers must be able to answer questions in either English or Spanish. Any property with six or more bodies interred in it qualifies as a cemetery, according to the Funeral Consumers Alliance, but the organization recommends consulting the country registrar for applicable regulations when considering home burial or burial on personal property.

The Funeral Consumers Alliance provides information on consumers' rights for burials and cremations on its website. A full guide to burial and cremation concerns, including pricing, laws, regulations, prearrangement for burials and special circumstances, is available from the Cemetery and Funeral Bureau.

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