Know your obligations
As a BC licensed funeral provider, funeral director, embalmer or apprentice, you need to understand the laws that apply to your sector and maintain your good standing with our office. This is a general overview of our expectations and the laws we oversee. It is your responsibility to review the laws in detail, become aware of the municipal bylaws, and get independent legal advice, if necessary.
As part of our inspection or investigative process, we may impose an administrative monetary penalty (financial penalty) for certain violations of the laws we oversee. Every contravention has a base penalty amount, based in part on the seriousness of the infraction.
Read the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act.
Read the Cremation, Interment and Funeral Services Act.
Read the Cremation, Interment and Funeral Services Regulation.
Read the Consumer Contract Regulation.
Understand all our policies, including about administrative penalties.
If you are selling your business through a sale of share or sale of the business, you must notify our office.
Manage your preneed contracts and trust accounts
If you offer preneed cemetery or funeral services, you must review your obligations.
Changing your savings institution (trust)?
By law, there are obligations when it comes to maintaining and releasing preneed trust accounts.
If you are changing your savings institution (trust), here are the steps you must take:
- Step 1: If required set up a new preneed trust account with a new savings institution in BC. You must wait for our permission prior to transferring your preneed trust. Visit the BC Financial Services Authority to find a list of regulated trust companies.
- Step 2: Fill out our change request form, along with a copy of your new preneed trust agreement to email@example.com.
- Step 3: Wait for our permission to transfer the preneed trust. We will review the trust agreement that you sent us in Step 2. Once approved, we will send you a letter with permission to proceed with the transfer of the preneed trust funds from the previous savings institution directly to the new savings institution.
- Step 4: Send us the closing and opening balances of the previous and new preneed trust accounts. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with:
- A bank statement with the closing balance of the previous trust account
- A bank statement with the opening balance of the new trust account
Submit your preneed financial report
If you offer preneed cemetery or funeral services, you must annually submit a preneed financial report within 90 days of your fiscal year-end.
The report must include the account information for each preneed contract for the previous fiscal year including:
- client name and address
- client contract date
- total sale price
- amount received or held at the beginning of the year
- monies received during the year (scheduled payments or new accounts)
- amount placed in trust
- monies paid out including cancellations, refunds and monies converted at need
- year-end balance (total amount received, placed in trust and interest credited)
- investment account number
Preneed financial reports must meet our requirements and incomplete reports will not be processed. If you submit your report more than 90 days after your fiscal year-end date, you will be charged a late fee.
- Watch our tutorial video on how to fill out the preneed financial report template (trust)
- Watch our tutorial video on how to fill out the preneed financial report template (insurance)
Report death registrations and submit quarterly administrative fee
In BC, you must report and pay an administrative fee on a quarterly basis for each death registered under the Vital Statistics Act.
Exemptions from the administrative fee are (i) death registrations where the services are paid for by the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee, the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, the federal department of Veterans Affairs, the federal department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) and (ii) death registrations in respect of an infant either stillborn or deceased at less than seven days of age.
Understand your refrigeration requirements
As a licensed funeral provider or funeral director, there are certain requirements that you must follow when it comes to the refrigeration of human remains. There’s a lot to know, here are two important rules:
- Once remains have been received, unembalmed human remains must, as soon as practical (but within 24 hours), be placed in refrigeration that is acceptable for the storage of the human remains.
- Human remains must stay in the refrigeration unit unless scheduled preparation, embalming, transfer, service or disposition is going to happen.
Submit a refrigeration agreement declaration (if you need one)
You must fill out a refrigeration agreement declaration if you are a licensed funeral provider who:
- uses refrigeration services from another licensed funeral provider of a different legal entity, or
- provides refrigeration services to another licensed funeral provider of a different legal entity
If you obtain refrigeration from anywhere that is not the address on your licence you must complete a refrigeration agreement.
As a funeral provider, you must prove that you have enough refrigeration to accommodate the reported number of human remains. Showing you have acceptable storage is a condition of your licence with us.
Know what your transfer staff are allowed to do
Transfer staff can only provide transfer services and not the licensed activities of a funeral director/embalmer. Transfer staff are not allowed to perform basic sanitary care or preparation.
Transfer service providers do not need to be licensed and can perform transfers without a licence under certain conditions, such as working under contract with a funeral provider.
As a licensed funeral provider, you are liable for the actions of your employees and your agents, including contracted transfer service providers. That means that if a transfer provider is found to be in contravention of the law, we could pursue that contravention or the authorized representative of the deceased could take civil action against you.
Read the Cremation, Interment and Funeral Services Act section 2.
Understand the rules to initiate a transfer of human remains
By law, a funeral provider must not provide funeral services unless the funeral provider has the authorization from the appropriate person identified in the Cremation, Interment and Funeral Services Act.
A funeral provider licence, under which you operate, includes a director, officer, employee and agent of the funeral provider. By law, the funeral provider is liable for the actions of their employees or agents.
There’s a lot to know about the rules around initiating a transfer of human remains. While we encourage you to read understand the law in full, here’s an overview to help you understand and follow the rules.
Read the Cremation, Interment and Funeral Services Act section 8(1) and 8(2) that addresses authorization requirements
Review the Cremation, Interment and Funeral Services Act section 5 for the list of who has priority to control the disposition of human or cremated remains
Read the Cremation, Interment and Funeral Services Act section 2 that speaks to employees and other agents.
Display your licence
You must publicly display your licence at your place of business. You must also include your business address on any print or web materials, including:
- business cards
- print collaterals including brochures and flyers
- documentation such as contracts
- business letterheads
If your business is a corporation that is owned or partially owned by a public company, you are required to state this affiliation on any print or web materials, as listed above.
Renew your licence
Renew annually by September 14 to maintain your funeral provider licence.
BC consumer protection laws require that businesses have a licence for each location from where it conducts business. Conducting business from a location means several things, including:
- A location from which your physical presence, address, or telephone number in British Columbia is given in a telephone directory.
- A location from which your physical presence, address, or telephone number in British Columbia is given in any verbal or written advertisement,
- You have, in British Columbia, a resident agent, or a warehouse, office, or place of business.
We understand that you may provide remote working options to your employees.
Provided they are not conducting business in the way described above, remote workers may work from remote locations if they follow these guidelines:
- They can only work remotely from their home-based location.
- If the law or health directives allow, they are only to directly meet and serve clients from licensed locations and not at remote or unlicensed home-based locations.
- While conducting business, they must only, use the contact information of the licensed location in any visual representation, correspondence, business cards, or on any printed or electronic advertisement.
- Other than cell phone numbers or corporate IP-based phone numbers, they may not disclose their personal telephone number(s) to suppliers or clients nor reveal that they are conducting business from any unlicensed location.
- Payments for services may be received only at the licensed office unless those payments are through electronic means via credit card or immediate EFT, and no payment information is retained or stored in the home-based location.
- All client files, arrangement details, and associated original records of accounting or contracts handled by a telecommuter must be kept at the businesses’ licensed location. (It is permissible for telecommuters to retain copies of routine correspondence and other records at their home-based location).
- Persons selling or otherwise arranging for the supply of goods and services to consumers with the expectation of receiving payment or benefit for so doing, are deemed to be acting as licensees and are required to comply with the provisions of these guidelines.
Except for items 6 and 7 above, these guidelines do not apply to employees of licensees performing purely accounting or other administrative functions.
Understand our inspection process
We perform routine, random, follow-up and complaint-based inspections on all our regulated businesses to ensure they comply with the law.
For funeral directors & embalmers
Report changes to your licence
You must notify us if:
- you are transferring from one funeral to another, or to another location within the same company
- if you wish to place your licence in an inactive status for a period of time
- any of your contact information has changed (email, address or name)
Complete your continuing education requirements
In BC, all funeral directors and embalmers are required to complete six hours of continuing education credits for each licence type, every two years from your initial licensing date.
Renew your licence
Renew annually by September 14 to maintain your funeral provider licence.
Report changes to your licence
You must notify us if you are changing employers or supervisors, or when you cease employment.
Submit a notice of change form.
If you have completed less than 1,800 hours of practical training or less than 25 funeral contracts, a licensed funeral director must be physically present when you are:
- involved in negotiating or signing an at-need funeral contract
- arranging, conducting or directing a funeral or memorial service
- arranging for the interment of cremated or human remains; and
- involved with the care and preparation of human remains prior to disposition
As a funeral apprentice, you may transfer human remains under the general direction of a licensed funeral director.
If you are performing duties that fall outside those of a funeral director (such as answering telephones, handing out price lists, washing cars, etc.), you do not need a licensed funeral director to be present.
Once you have completed the required 1,800 hours of practical training and completed 25 funeral contracts, the levels of supervision may be reduced to require that the apprentice have access to and be able to readily communicate with a licensed funeral director. However, it is up to your supervising funeral director or funeral to decide when you can move from direct supervision to general supervision.
If you have completed less than 25 embalming procedures, a licensed embalmer must be physically present when you are engaged in the disinfection, preservation, preparation or restoration of human remains.
If you are performing duties that fall outside those of an embalmer (such as answering telephones, handing out price lists, washing cars, etc.), you do not need a licensed funeral director to be present.
Once you have completed the required 1,800 hours of practical training and completed 25 embalmings, the levels of supervision may be reduced to require that the apprentice have access to and be able to readily communicate with a licensed embalmer. However, it is up to your supervising embalmer or funeral to decide when you can move from direct supervision to general supervision.