Under the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2003, a person who wishes bodily remains to be cremated in a crematorium at a public cemetery may apply to the responsible cemetery trust for a cremation authorisation.
To apply for cremation authorisation, the Application for cremation authorisation for deceased persons of known identity (Form 3) must be completed.
Additional required documentation
The Certificate of registered medical practitioner authorising cremation (Form 4) and a notice as required under s. 37(2) of the Births Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996 must be submitted with Form 3.
Form 3 and Form 4 are both prescribed under the Cemeteries and Crematoria Regulations 2015. The forms can be completed by hand or completed online and printed for signature.
Form 4 must always be submitted with an application for cremation authorisation unless the application relates to one of the following:
- the cremation of a still-born child (to confirm that the application relates to a still-born child please check the 'Medical Certificate of Cause of Perinatal Death')
- where an order has been made by a Coroner under s. 47 of the Coroners Act 2008
- a deceased person who died interstate or overseas and for whom an authority to cremate has been issued by the Coroner (or other person permitted by the law of the jurisdiction where the deceased died to authorise the cremation).
In accordance with s. 138 of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act, Form 4 must be completed by a registered medical practitioner who is not the registered medical practitioner who completed the notice as required under s. 37(2) of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996 in respect of the death of the deceased person who is to be cremated. For further information please refer to the Guidance notes for registered medical practitioners authorising cremation.
Form 4 is required to be submitted with an application for cremation authorisation in regards to neonatal deaths (defined by the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act as the death of a live-born child within 28 days after birth). The requirements are distinct from those for a still-born child because a still-born child is not born alive and therefore does not require a second independent doctor to enquire about and confirm the cause of death before authorising the cremation. Cemetery trusts and funeral directors should check Part 5, sections 23 and 24 of the 'Medical certificate of cause of perinatal death', to determine which type of death is being reported.
Note: The Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) has implemented an online system for medical practitioners to register a death. In addition and with effect from 19 June 2019, BDM and has updated its Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD) and Medical Certificate of Cause of Perinatal Death (MCCPD) forms. Please read the Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages new online system for registering MCCD/MCCPD forms – issues for further information regarding which types of these forms and documentation a cemetery trust can accept for the purpose of approving a cremation application.
What if documentation requirements cannot be met?
In exceptional circumstances, when the prescribed documentation requirements outlined above cannot be met, an applicant may apply to the department for a cremation approval under s. 134 of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act.
Under these circumstances, a funeral director generally liaises with the department and, where necessary, the relevant international authorities on behalf of the deceased's family or representative.
Please note that certified translations of original documents must be provided for any foreign language documents relating to the application.
An application for cremation approval must include a completed Application for cremation authorisation for deceased persons of known identity (Form 3) together with documentation to enable the department to be satisfied that:
- a medical cause of death has been confirmed by a relevantly qualified person
- where appropriate, the circumstances surrounding the death were appropriately and thoroughly investigated by the authorities in the jurisdiction in which the deceased died
- the family or representatives of the deceased are satisfied with the identified cause of death, and do not wish to report the death to the coroner (where this is the case a statutory declaration to this effect should be completed by the family).
The funeral director or applicant should provide the department with all available supporting information and documentation.
Where the department cannot satisfy itself in regard to the matters outlined above, it is likely that the death will be considered a 'reportable death' under the Coroners Act and will be reported to the Coroners Court of Victoria.
Where a report is made to the Coroners Court, the department will be unable to finalise its consideration for cremation approval until such time as the coroner has made a determination in regards to the death.
The length of time required by the department to process an application for cremation authorisation will vary depending on the circumstances and documentation available in each particular case. For this reason, cremation bookings should not be made prior to submitting an application for cremation approval to the department.