Cremation and Burial at Sea

Digging Deep - a guide to cemetery and burial law from the Office of the Vermont Secretary of State.

Permit to Cremate

If you choose cremation, a medical examiner's Permit to Cremate, [Title 18, 5201] is required. There is a small fee for this permit. To find the nearest medical examiner, call 888-552-2952. The crematory will file the burial transit permit.

Open-air cremations are prohibited by Vermont public health laws [Title 18, 5302 and 5319(a)] and must occur in an enclosed device that are regulated by design and operating requirements for combustion devices for cremations. See the following link to a Department of Environmental Conservation memorandum on the subject of open-air cremations.

Department of Environmental Conservation memorandum (pdf)

Container

Cremation is done through a heat process whereby the body is reduced to ashes and bone fragments. These are referred to as cremated remains or cremains. A casket is not required for a cremation, but an alternative container will be used to hold the deceased during the cremation. This can be an unfinished wood box, a cardboard box, or a container that covers the entire body and is rigid enough for handling. After cremation the cremains can be placed in a simple box provided by the establishment, or a decorative urn can be purchased or provided by you.

Arrangements

Cremation can be arranged through a funeral home, crematory or body transport service. When arranged through a funeral home, a viewing can be a part of the service prior to cremation. If you choose to do this, it may be possible to rent a casket for the viewing and then have the body cremated in an alternative container. Not all crematories in Vermont will accept a body directly from a family if they are handling arrangements themselves.

Direct cremation is less costly because there is no viewing at a funeral home, there is no need for an elaborate casket, and embalming is not necessary. You can still hold a memorial service (without a viewing) at your home or in a religious building, funeral home, cemetery, or other location.

Disposition

After cremation, the remains can be buried in a gravesite, be placed inside a columbarium or mausoleum, be taken home, or be scattered in a favorite spot. Although there are no statutes specifically allowing or forbidding the scattering of cremated remains in Lake Champlain or other public places, cremated remains are usually quite white and conspicuous (though finely pulverized). You should dispose of them discreetly, and scatter them widely enough that they're not noticeable. Cremated remains can be buried anywhere with the landowner’s permission.

Burial at Sea

Active military personnel and veterans can have their bodies or their cremains buried at sea by the Navy. For more information call the U.S. Navy’s mortuary program at the toll-free number (888) 647-6676.

Private citizens can arrange for burial at sea through a funeral home, a crematory, or they can arrange it themselves. If you want to arrange it yourself, please review the Federal Environmental Protection Agency’s website for conditions that need to be met for burial at sea: Burial At Sea

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