Understand the refrigeration rules

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.

Two important rules:

  1. 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.
  2. Human remains must stay in the refrigeration unit unless scheduled preparation, embalming, transfer, service or disposition is going to happen.

Read the Cremation, Interment and Funeral Services Act
Read the Cremation, Interment and Funeral Services Regulation

There’s more to know….

Unembalmed remains taken out of refrigeration for the purposes of performing care and preparation services, or incoming human remains not yet placed in refrigeration must be held in a room for care and preparation for no more than 24 hours. The care and preparation room must meet the requirements of the Cremation, Interment, and Funeral Services (CIFSA) regulations.

Read the CIFSA Regulations 32(2) or 32(3) for care and preparation room requirements.

You must be able to show evidence of the status of human remains entering and leaving refrigeration. We recommend that you maintain up to date logbooks that provide evidence of the status of human remains entering and leaving refrigeration, should issues arise during an inspection from our office.

Once care and preparation are done, and service or legal disposition of human remains is set to occur, remember:

  • human remains can’t be out of refrigeration longer than 24 hours and must be casketed and secured.
  • casketed remains must be stored in a care and preparation room, which at a minimum must meet the requirements set out in the CIFSA regulations.

While refrigeration is not required for embalmed human remains, it is important to note that embalming is not required by law so embalming must not become the default means of avoiding refrigeration requirements.

This information does not apply to crematorium operators. The storage of remains awaiting cremation is more appropriately a transfer issue, and human remains need to be secure and transported as soon as practicable and done respectfully. Read the Cremation, Interment, Funeral Services Act sections 12 and 13 (2)