ICCFA Cremation Guidelines

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Here are the guidelines of the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association (ICCFA) to voluntarily foster professional standards of care.

ICCFA Cremation Guidelines

Statement of Purpose

The following Cremation Guidelines have been published by the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association to voluntarily foster professional standards of care and consideration by our members. 


Authorizing agent(s): the person(s) legally entitled to order the cremation of the remains.

Certified operator: an individual formally training and duly certified in the operation of a crematory.

Crematory authority: the legal entity, such as a funeral home, cemetery, or independently owned crematory, or authorized representative of the legal entity who conducts the cremation.

Cremation chamber: the enclosed space within the crematory where the cremation process takes place.

Cremation process: the heating process that reduces human remains to bone fragments, followed by the processing that reduces bone fragments to unidentifiable dimensions.

Remains: the dead human body prior to cremation or the cremated remains.

Handling the Deceased and Identification

The remains of the deceased shall be handled in a dignified manner which shall include the following:

  • Covering of Remains: Prior to cremation, the remains of the deceased shall be respectfully clothed, covered or protected at all times.
  • Identification System: The crematory shall at all times be able to identify the remains of the deceased before, during and after cremation.
  • Pre-Cremation Preparation: Prior to cremation, the remains of the deceased are to be properly handled in a manner consistent with generally accepted mortuary methods and any applicable governmental agency policies, laws, rules and regulations.
  • Positive Identification by Authorizing Agent: Prior to cremation, the remains of the deceased shall be positively identified by the Authorizing Agent or their assignee.
  • Personal Possessions: The placement or removal of any personal possessions, such as jewelry etc. to be cremated with the deceased, must be by written instruction of the Authorizing Agent.
  • Foreign Material: Non-bone fragment foreign material that was part of the deceased prior to cremation and recovered with the cremated remains, such as an internal prosthesis, shall be removed prior to processing. Such material may be commingled with other material and shall be disposed of in a dignified manner, such as burial in a cemetery, in accordance with all applicable laws.

Consumer Considerations and Expectations

A certified Operator, Administrator or Counselor shall voluntarily pledge that cremation consumers shall be afforded the following courtesies and considerations as may be applicable:

  • Good Faith: All interactions shall be conducted with professionalism, respect, dignity and in accordance with all applicable laws.
  • Full Disclosure: A written explanation of the cremation process including any restrictions, such as metal caskets, will be provided to the Authorizing Agent prior to the performance of any cremation, and any questions related to the process or potential options of final disposition will be answered. All documents required by law, including any authorizations, will be explained and copies provided for the Authorizing Agent’s retention. In the event that a consumer feels the standards outlined herein are not of consequence or unnecessary and prefers another provider, at their request, they will be respectfully assisted to find a provider that might better meet their needs.
  • Witnessing: The Authorizing Agent shall be advised of his/her right to witness the placement of the deceased into the cremation chamber and shall accept or decline this offer in writing. Witnessing of any aspect of the cremation and processing procedure shall be in compliance with all applicable law and any safety regulations.
  • Timing of Cremation Prior to cremation, the approximate timing of the cremation shall be disclosed in writing and acknowledged by the Authorizing Agent.
  • Release of Cremated Remains Cremated remains shall only be released, delivered, mailed or disposed of in a dignified manner, in accordance with the law, and with expressed written consent of the Authorizing Agent.

The Crematory Authority

  • Individual Cremation: All cremations are performed individually unless there is a specific request by the Authorizing Agent instructing to the contrary for extenuating circumstances such as the simultaneous death of a parent and child. The crematory authority shall reserve the right to agree or decline a special request by an Authorizing Agent.
  • Recordkeeping: Records, logs and documentation are maintained in a clear, correct, organized and timely manner.
  • Cleanliness: The crematory will be maintained in a clean, orderly manner and ready for unannounced inspection at any time.
  • Recovering Cremated Remains: After each and every cremation, manual means, such as brushing, and industry-specific mechanical means, such as vacuuming, will be employed to retrieve the cremated remains.
  • Disposition of Cremated Remains: 100% of the cremated remains recovered from the cremation chamber and processing equipment shall be prepared for disposition in the manner directed per the written instructions of the Authorizing Agent.
  • Animals and Pets: The crematory will not cremate animals or pets in a cremation chamber used for the cremation of human remains.
  • Applicable Law: The crematory authority and all assigned personnel will obey and operate in compliance with all laws, rules and regulations of any governmental authority with oversight or jurisdiction over the crematory.

For Administrators

  • Use of Certified Operators: All cremations will be performed under the auspices of an operator certified by ICCFA or another recognized authority.
  • Crematory Personnel: The crematory authority will only employ individuals of integrity to operate the crematory, interact with the public, maintain records and engage in the recovery, handling and delivery of cremated remains.
  • Education and Training: The crematory authority is committed to provide initial training for its
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