Contacting the Funeral Home

Funeral arrangements

Funeral arrangements can range from the simplest cremation to very elaborate services, depending on the wishes of the deceased and the remaining family members. Regardless of the type of arrangements you wish to make, the services of a licensed funeral provider will be invaluable.

One of the first steps the personal representative of the deceased (Executor named in the Will) must take is to contact the funeral home. Remember, most funeral homes are available to take your calls, 24 hours a day and are there to answer any questions you may have. The funeral director will be able to guide you through the necessary steps that need to be taken and provide you with some reassurances.

From the information you have given the funeral home in the initial call, they may be able to make arrangements to have the deceased transferred to the funeral home. At this time, the funeral director will set a convenient time for the executor and your family to come to the funeral home and make further arrangements. Be sure to allow you and your family enough time for private consultation, as even the most simplest arrangements can take 1 – 1.5 hours to make.

Registering the death

All deaths in British Columbia must be registered and your funeral director can look after this process, as well as provide an original death certificate.

At the time of death the attending physician or coroner will sign a medical certification of death form (this is not the same as a death certificate). In most cases the funeral director will obtain this document, which is required to register the death. The registration of death form is filled out by the funeral director. Both forms are filed at the BC Vital Statistics Agency. A permit for disposition (burial or cremation) is then issued to the funeral director. The funeral director will also ask you how many original death certificates you will require, bearing in mind that there is a cost for each one. For most estates, two original death certificates should be sufficient. 

In order to Register the death with the vital statistics agency, your funeral director will need to ask for some personal data to enter on the Registration of Death Form, including:

  • Full legal name
  • Date of Birth
  • Birthplace
  • Personal Health Number
  • Social Insurance Number 
  • Occupation (if retired, kind of work done most of working life)
  • Spouse’s name (if wife list maiden name)
  • Full name of father and father’s birthplace
  • Full name of mother (maiden name) and mother’s birthplace
  • Method of Disposition (burial or cremation)


You may wish at this time to bring clothing for the deceased to the funeral home. Even if you do not wish to view the deceased, bringing in clothing can provide you and your family comfort and be psychologically beneficial. Clothing can be any type of apparel such as a nightgown, sportswear, or formal attire.

Selecting a casket for burial or cremation

Before you and the family visit the funeral home to make the necessary arrangements, you should know whether burial or cremation has been selected as the final disposition. You will be asked to select a casket. In British Columbia, the deceased MUST be placed and secured in a casket or container prior to cremation taking place. A casket may also be selected for burial.

The casket selection room will probably have a variety of caskets constructed of various materials. The three main selections are: hardwood, cloth covered and metal. Hardwood and cloth covered caskets are suitable for cremation, however, metal is not. Minimum containers made of particle board may also be available. Casket and container costs will vary according to the materials used and designs selected.

You may also wish to discuss at this time the selection of an urn for cremated remains. If applicable, cemetery arrangements will also have to be made. The cemetery in most cases will need at least 24 hours’ notice prior to burial. By provincial law, cremation cannot take place prior to 48 hours after the death. Requirements for burial in British Columbia include a burial permit and plot for interment. Some cemeteries also require that a grave liner be purchased.

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British Columbia Funeral Association
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