Direct Cremate

Typical Timeline for Direct Cremations

How long does it typically take for a direct cremation to be completed? Keep reading for a step-by-step breakdown a typical direct cremation timeline.
Typical Timeline for Direct Cremations
Typical Timeline for Direct Cremations

Recently we discussed things that could delay a direct cremation. It raised the question, what is the typical timeline for a direct cremation from start to finish? 

We’ve broken down the typical direct cremation timeline step-by-step so that you’ll have a better idea of how long it takes and can plan accordingly. 

Step-by-Step Timeline for Direct Cremations

One of the benefits of direct cremation is that it’s much easier to arrange and complete compared to a cremation or burial with funeral services. There are fewer steps involved, but it will still take time for the direct cremation to happen. Here’s a look at how long each step typically takes to give you a better idea of the overall timeline for a direct cremation. 

Get the Necessary Information Together – Few Hours or Less

To get the cremation process initiated the crematorium will need some basic information. That information includes:

  • Full name of the deceased
  • Where the deceased is located
  • If the deceased has any medical device implants
  • The weight of the deceased
  • The date of the death

All of this is fairly basic information and should only take a few hours to gather up. 

Initiate Services With a Crematorium – A Few Hours or Less

Soon after a person dies, the next of kin or executor of the last will and testament needs to decide what form of disposition is going to be used and contact a funeral home. Today, direct cremation services can be initiated in-person, over the phone or online. Usually, you’ll need to sign a cremation authorization form for the funeral home to do their job. Either way, it shouldn’t take more than a few hours to connect with a funeral home and get the process started. 

Obtaining the Signed Death Certificate – 1-3 Days

This is one possible sticking point that could delay the process, although usually it doesn’t. Many states have regulations that require doctors to sign death certificates within a day, but they could have up to three days to complete the death certificate. For example, in California the certifying doctor must complete the death certificate within 15 hours of getting the paperwork. However, in Florida doctors have up to 72 hours to sign the death certificate.

The funeral home can handle this part of the process by coordinating with the medical examiner or doctor who is charged with signing the death certificate. The funeral home will need that signed death certificate in-hand in order to do the cremation. 

Transport of the Body – 1 Day

Once all of the paperwork is in order, the funeral home can arrange a time to pick up the deceased from the morgue or medical examiner’s office and transport the body to their location.

Required Waiting Period (If Applicable) – Up to 3 Days

Some states require a waiting period of up to three days before the cremation can be done.

Conducting the Cremation – 1 Day

In actuality, the cremation itself takes about 2-4 hours. However, the body must be prepared first and then there may be a short waiting period for the retort to be available. All said and done, conducting the cremation typically takes a day. 

Preparing the Cremains – 1 Day

Once the cremation is complete the funeral home’s job isn’t over. They’ll then need to prepare the cremains for the surviving relatives, which usually happens within a day of the cremation.

Receiving the Cremains – 1-2 Days After Mailing

The time it takes to receive the cremains depends on how they’re being received. If you live near the crematorium you can pick up the cremains as soon as they’re ready. However, if you’re having cremains mailed to a location that will take a bit longer. 

Cremains must be packaged and labeled in a certain way. Only the USPS can ship cremains, and they require that the cremains be mailed using Priority Mail Express. Packages that are shipped using this service only take 1-2 days to arrive.

All said and done, a direct cremation is typically going to take at least a week, possibly up to two weeks from the time of death. Then it can take up to a few extra days to receive the cremains. 

If you’d like more details on the direct cremation process and how long it takes, give our team a call. We’re happy to go over the steps with you so you’re better prepared.