Cremation involves the placement of the deceased's remains into a casket, rigid container or other alternative container, and then the body and the container are incinerated at a crematory and reduced to the basic components of bone and ash. Every cremation is performed individually. The cremation chamber is between 1400 and 1800 degrees. Following a cooling period the cremated remains are mechanically pulverized.

Cremation can only occur after at least 24 hours have elapsed from the time of death as recorded on the death certificate.

The body may or may not be embalmed before cremation. Opting for cremation does not preclude you from participating in a viewing, funeral, gathering or memorial service.

While all states vary, in New Jersey a licensed funeral director employed or hired by the funeral home handling the arrangements must be present at the final disposition. That means they must accompany the body to the crematory.

For questions about cremation planning, the cremation process or memorial services, have a conversation with your local funeral director.  Funeral homes can arrange for cremations on your behalf and sell cremation merchandise such as urns and other containers.

In accordance with regulation, only cemeteries can operate crematories in New Jersey (with the exception of three funeral home/crematory facilities that were operating prior to the passage of the NJ Cemetery Act of 1971).


When choosing cremation as the final form of disposition, the individual(s) with the right to control may be requested to identify the deceased. Identification may be through a physical inspection or a photograph depending on the funeral home’s requirements.

If identification proves to be too difficult a task for the person(s) with right to control, they can appoint another individual to make the identification on their behalf. Notify the funeral director in writing of the alternate person including the name of this individual and their relationship to the deceased.

Cremated Ashes

There are a variety of ways to dispose of the ashes of the deceased.


Ashes can be placed in an urn.  Cremation urns vary in styles and materials and can be purchased from funeral homes or funeral merchandise retailers. You may want to consider a biodegradable urn if you plan to scatter or bury the cremated ashes at a later date.


A columbarium contains niches or designated bays to store cremated ashes. An urn or other container holding the ashes is placed in the niche. A niche may be on either the inside or the outside of the columbarium, and ranges in price depending on size and location. The cemetery may charge additional fees for endowment care, a flower vase or a nameplate.


Many cemeteries have facilities for burying cremated remains, such as an urn garden. Where permitted, the cremated remains may also be buried in a family grave or other location.

Scattering on Land

New Jersey will permit ashes to be scattered on private property, with the permission of the property owner, or on public property, with the approval of the state, county or local agency in charge of the property. This includes publicly- and privately-owned lakes, rivers and streams. National and state parks have permit requirements and location limitations. Always check before scattering ashes to make sure you are compliant with the laws of the state or municipality.

Scattering at Sea

Federal law requires that ashes be scattered at least three nautical miles off shore. Anyone who owns a boat can scatter ashes provided they file a burial/scattering at sea notification form with the Environmental Protection Agency within 30 days of the scattering. The form is available at You may want to ask your funeral director about a water-soluble urn which floats for a few minutes before sinking.

Scattering from the Air

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not prohibit ashes from being scattered from airplanes and other airborne devices as long as the procedure does not present a hazard to persons or property.  

Sharing with Others

You may place small portions of the ashes in jewelry, miniature urns or other keepsake memorials specifically created for this purpose and present them to relatives and close friends.

As with all other considerations, be sure to consult with your funeral director to understand all the options available to you.

Shipping of Cremated Remains

The United States Postal Service is the only provider available to ship human cremated ashes. The ashes must be sent Priority Mail Express and cannot be sent overnight express, regular or certified mail.

The ashes must be packaged in a sift-proof or similar-type container. The container must be sealed inside a second, durable outer container and a copy of the cremation authorization form must be enclosed. Many crematories have containers specifically designed to ship cremated ashes.

Transporting on Airlines

Because of required Transportation Safety Agency screening procedures, airlines treat containers of cremated ashes as carry-on luggage only.  Containers of ashes may not be checked through as regular luggage. 

The ashes must be transported in an urn or container that will pass the X-ray screening process. Standard urns and opaque containers may fail the screening process.  Therefore, you may want to inform your funeral director that you plan to transport the ashes on an airline.  Remember to check with the airline for any additional requirements.

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