YOUR RIGHTS IN FRANCE
• You have the right to organise your own funeral and state your wishes. There is a legal obligation in France that your next of kin follow your wishes and it is an offence not to respect them.
• Although the authorities and Funeral Homes require no supporting document or attestation for your choice, you can if so desired prepare something written and passed to the next of kin or your representative on your death, ensuring your wishes are carried out.

CREMATION
• The law in France dictates that a maximum of 6 days is allowed before cremation takes place and the minimum of 24 hours. This is from the date of death (not including Sundays and Bank Holidays)
• The Departmental Prefecture in the commune where the death occurred or where the cremation is to take place may grant a deferral time period in exceptional circumstances
• Authorisation of a cremation is given by the Mairie in the commune where the death occurred.
• Important to know that when booking a funeral service in the crematorium that the time given is normally not the start time but the committal time only. For example = time given 10am then the actual service would be at either 9.15am or 9.30am dependant on the crematorium

Pacemakers: A doctor's certificate is required indicating there is a pacemaker to be removed. If the deceased has a pacemaker this has to be removed by an embalmer (thanatopracteur). The hospital or funeral home will help you with this.

THE FOLLOWING DOCUMENTS AND PROCEDURES WOULD BE REQUIRED FOR THE CREMATION:
1. The medical certificate from the doctor who confirmed the death Le Certificat medical de Deces
2. The death certificate – L’acte de dιces
3. If you have a pacemaker this must be removed by either the doctor or the embalmer before cremation. A written certificate from will be completed to confirm its removal
4. If you wish for the deceased to be transported to another commune for cremation, the coffin must have a seal stamped and signed by the Mairie giving his/her authority.

DISPOSAL OF ASHES
19th December 2008 – Law n°2008-1350 (LOI SUEUR)
ARTICLE 16

• Crematoriums should not keep the urns more than one year.
• Most crematoriums have a garden of remembrance (jardin des souvenirs) for the cremated remains to be scattered
• The urn can also be kept in worship centres
• Ashes can also be interred in a grave, vault or crypt. Authorisation is required from the Mairie. They can be deposited in a columbarium, scattered in a reserved space (garden of souvenirs), buried within an urn on a plot, as a globality. Art.L.2223-40.
• This means that the ashes cannot be divided, added to ashes of another deceased, nor kept by the family for the internment in a grave.
• They can be dispersed in the countryside, except on public highways. In that case the person, who is in charge, makes a dispersion notification with the Mairie (town hall) of the birth of the deceased, and the Mairie will add the details to a special register to this effect.
• Scattering is allowed in a stream, river, and the sea
• The urn cannot be buried on private property but the ashes can be dispersed on your private property
• The law says "it is forbidden to keep the urns at home, even if the possibility of burying them in a property is being considered." The keeping of ashes in an urn and dispersion in any other places is forbidden and is punishable by a €15000 fine.

PROCEDURE AND DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED FOR TAKING ASHES OUT OF THE COUNTRY
The Funeral Director should write a letter to the Prefecture in the department where the cremation took place asking for the authorization of transportation of the ashes to be taken out of the country.

This letter should include the following details and documents:

• Name & Surname of the Deceased Person
• Death Certificate (original and not a copy)
• Certificate for the sealing of the urn - this is from the Maire where the cremation took place. The Maire arranges for the Municipale Police to be present for the sealing of the urn for transfer out of the department to enable the ashes to be transported between countries – this is called a Laissez-passer
• Date and day of the cremation
• Cremation certificate from the crematorium
• Date and place of the burial in England (if required)

SENDING ASHES BACK TO THE UNITED KINGDOM BY AIR
• Arranged through the funeral director. This needs to be done when you are making the funeral arrangements.
• A zinc lined urn will need to be purchased.

TAKING ASHES BACK TO THE UNITED KINGDOM
You can purchase an urn via your funeral director or a plastic screw top container from the crematorium. These can be carried through customs as HAND LUGGAGE ONLY.

You will need the following:
►The death certificate (original not a copy)
►Certificate of cremation from the crematorium
►Certificate for the sealing of the urn from the Mairie this will given to the funeral director and then given to the person who will be taking the ashes back to the United Kingdom

Once all of the documents are in place contact the airline who you will be travelling with to advise them you are taking cremated remains out of the country.

At arrival at the departing airport go to the information desk and show them the sealed urn and all of the above documentation. They should photocopy all of the documents and give you back the originals.

BURIAL
• Burial without a coffin is prohibited in France
• Burial in France usually takes place from 24 hours with a maximum of 6 days, although the custom is normally 3 days (for a grave to be re-opened or dug)
• The Prefecture of the dept. may issue a waiver if its not possible to meet the 6 day requirement
• A burial can be made via a Funeral Home or privately by the immediate family of the deceased through the Maire

DOCUMENTS REQUIRED:
1. Acte de Deces – this acts as a burial permit
2. Burial Permit - ‘Permis d’Inhumation’ – issued by the Mairie of the commune where the burial will take place when death was registered

• The Mairie will give the authority to close and seal the coffin before burial.
• The Mairie will also give authorisation to transport the deceased if burial is elsewhere.
• In the case of a violent death or suicide, and here is a police/judicial inquiry the responsibility for issuing the burial permit lies with the Public Prosecutor (Procureur de la Republique) at the local high court (Tribunal de Grande Instance).

BUYING A BURIAL PLOT
• If the plot is not already owned then it is necessary to buy one. This can be done at the Mairie or if in larger cities the Cemeteries Office.
• Proof of residence will be required and you will need to specify the size of the plot. The administration will then give you the deed of ownership.
• Temporary plots of 15 years or less do not usually allow for decoration of the grave or the erecting of monuments.

HEADSTONES
• After 3 months after closure of the grave the family must arrange for the grave to be covered with a concrete slab. After that, a decorative tomb stone can be erected

BURIAL ON PRIVATE LAND
• You can be buried on your own private land. The Prefecture of the Dept. where the land is situated gives authorisation after death providing the following criteria and documentation is met.

► Written request from the deceased in their will or attestation
► A map of the location, showing where the deceased is to be buried and proximity of neighbours
► Death certificate (Acte de deces)
► Doctors certificate of death (Certificat Medical de Deces)
► Burial certificate from the commune of the place of death
► A report from the geological hydrologist – approves the location he checks the following: the distance between other dwellings, location of the fosse septique, the composition of the ground, underground water table.
 

ALL OF THE INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE HAS BEEN CONTRIBUTED BY
Angela Clohessy Dip. FD  MBIFD
 

 

 

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