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Burial and Cremation Act 2013 and the Burial and Cremation Regulations 2014

The Burial and Cremation Act 2013 and the Burial and Cremation Regulations 2014 came into operation on 1 February 2014. New, changed forms (to be used by medical practitioners) came into effect at the same time. 

In particular, there will be a new partial certificate of cause of death that will need to be completed by the doctor who certifies that the deceased died of natural causes. This partial certificate must be sighted by a cemetery authority or other person before burial can occur (see section 12 of the Act). Copies of the legislation and forms can be found on our website for the information of members (see below), as well as some information provided by the Attorney General's Department, 'Notes for Doctors' for the information of medical practitioners.

Medical practitioners are asked to note in particular section 14 of the Act and the provisions in the regulations dealing with identification of remains prior to removal from the place of death. 

Form 6 is a new form which will be required for all burials, where the deceased died of natural causes. Medical practitioners with any queries can contact the Births Deaths and Marriages Office by phone to 131 882 or email. Another reference point is the Consumer and Business affairs website here.

As a quick overview:

There is no change in the process of issuing a death certificate (yellow form) by doctors in this Act. These forms are the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death form which is required under the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996 and must be completed by the examining or treating doctor for all deaths where the person dies of natural causes (ie not a Coronial matter). 

An identification tag must be attached to the bodily remains before the remains can be moved within, or removed from, the place of death. The tag can be attached by the medical practitioner who was responsible for the deceased’s person’s medical care immediately before death; or another person who personally knew the deceased; or a person who is otherwise able to confirm the identity of the deceased (such as a nurse).

Form 7 is the new identification certificate. It must be completed by either a medical practitioner who was responsible for the deceased’s care immediately before death or a person who personally knew the deceased and who has identified the body and either checked that the identification tag is correct or visually sighted the deceased’s body in a coffin and checked that the identifying details on the name plate are correct. 

To ensure that the bodily remains are identified as soon as possible, regulation 5(1)(b) provides that if the identification tag is attached by the relevant medical practitioner or a person who personally knew the deceased, that person must also complete the Form 7 prior to the bodily remains being moved within, or removed from, the place of death. Where the tag is attached by someone else, such as a nurse, the remains may be removed from the place of death and the certificate of identification completed by the appropriate party at a later date, but prior to burial or cremation occurring. For example, identification may occur at the premises of the funeral director once the remains have been placed in a coffin.

If the deceased is going to be buried, the examining or treating doctor will need to complete a Form 6 (partial certificate). This can be done when the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death is being completed. This form was introduced to address concerns about the privacy of the deceased and limits the amount of personal information about the deceased that is retained by a cemetery.

In summary: 

Documents required for registration and cremation (natural causes): 

  • Medical Certificate of Cause of Death 
  • Form 3 (or Form 5 if post mortem conducted)
  • Form 7 if the medical practitioner either attached the ID tag prior to the body being moved or they were responsible for identifying the body prior to burial or cremation (for example, at the funeral director’s premises) (noting that the aim of the legislation is to have the bodily remains identified as soon as possible prior to the bodily remains being moved within the place of death)
  • Form 4 to be completed by second doctor.

Documents for registration and burial (natural causes):

  • Medical Certificate of Cause of Death
  • Form 6
  • Form 7 if the medical practitioner either attached the ID tag prior to the body being moved or they were responsible for identifying the body prior to burial or cremation (for example, at the funeral director’s premises) (noting that the aim of the legislation is to have the bodily remains identified as soon as possible prior to the bodily remains being moved within the place of death)

A Form 8 is used where the deceased cannot be visually identified, therefore a Form 7 is unable to be completed.

Please note: the 'Notes for Doctors' that have been distributed (and are linked below) pertain to forms required under the Burial and Cremation Act & Regulations only. They do not relate to the documents required under the Births, Deaths and Marriages Act 1996.