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Delaware General AssemblyDelaware RegulationsAdministrative CodeTitle 16Department of Health and Social ServicesDivision of Public HealthHealth Promotion and Disease Prevention

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1.0 Definitions

“Dead Body” shall mean any human dead body, including any products of human conception expelled weighing 350 grams or more, or after twenty (20) weeks of gestation, whether born dead or dying thereafter.

“Department” means the Department of Health and Social Services.

“Funeral Director” shall mean an Undertaker or Mortician licensed in the State of Delaware.

“Premises In which Interments Are Made” shall mean burying grounds, cemeteries, tombs or vaults, or any other places where disposal of bodies may be made.

“State Registrar” shall mean Director, Division of Public Health.

5 DE Reg. 2300 (6/1/02)


2.0 Burial Permit Required

No manager, superintendent, caretaker, sexton or other person in charge of any premises in which interments, entombments, cremations or other dispositions of any dead body are made, shall permit the interment, entombment, cremation or other disposition of such body unless it is accompanied by a burial or cremation permit or a temporary certificate authorizing burial, signed by a licensed funeral director. Upon receipt of the burial permit, the person in charge of the premises (or by the funeral director if there is no person in charge) shall sign the permit and retain same as a permanent record of authorization for burial. In the event that the person in charge of the premises receives a temporary certificate authorizing burial, said certificate shall be retained until the burial permit is received. Upon receipt of the burial permit, both the temporary certificate and the burial permit shall be retained by the person in charge of the premises as a permanent record of authorization for burial. If the person in charge of the premises does not receive the burial permit from the funeral director within a period of ten (10) days after burial takes place, he shall notify the State Registrar of Vital Statistics, Dover, Delaware.

5 DE Reg. 2300 (6/1/02)


3.0 Burial of the Dead

Except as hereinafter provided, all human bodies dead within the State of Delaware shall be cremated or buried, or placed within a receiving vault within five (5) days after death. Any dead human body to be kept longer then twenty-four (24) hours shall be embalmed or placed in a hermetically sealed casket which will not be opened at any time after this twenty-four (24) period, except when medical or legal investigation necessitates a longer period. The Department shall issue a special permit in such cases. Application for such a permit shall be made to the State Registrar of Vital Statistics, Dover. Bodies to be kept more than twenty-four (24) hours under this exception must be stored in suitable, approved refrigeration facilities.

5 DE Reg. 2300 (6/1/02)


4.0 Depth of Graves

No interment of any human body shall be made in any public or private burial ground unless the distance from all parts of the top of the outer case containing the coffin or casket be not less than eighteen (18) inches (.5 meter) from the natural surface of the ground. EXCEPTION: Per Section 6, subsection c., of this regulation, bodies dead of designated high‑risk diseases (Anthrax, Small Pox, Plague and the various Hemorrhagic Fevers) must be buried at a depth of at least 79 inches/ 2 meters.

The superintendent, sexton, caretaker, or other person in charge of a cemetery or burial ground shall be responsible that graves are of the depth required by this regulation. In the event that there be no such person in charge, it shall become the responsibility of the person burying the body.

5 DE Reg. 2300 (6/1/02)

5.0 Permanent Entombment Facilities and Receiving Vaults

5.1 Permanent Entombment Facilities:

5.1.1 When a body is placed in a permanent entombment facility, all exterior facings of the facility must be firmly and securely closed.

5.2 Receiving:

5.2.1 Receiving vaults may be used for a period not exceeding fifteen (15) days for the reception of bodies provided the bodies are properly embalmed by a licensed funeral director. Beyond this period, special permission from the Department is required. In every case, the death certificate must be filed immediately after death.

5.3 The responsible person in charge of the receiving vault shall make written application to the State Registrar of Vital Statistics, Dover, for this special permission at least one week prior to the expiration of the fifteen (15) day period.

5.4 This section shall not apply to bodies turned over to bona fide medical and surgical groups for anatomical or study purposes.

5 DE Reg. 2300 (6/1/02)


6.0 Preparation, Transport, And Disposal Of Bodies Dead Of Designated High‑risk Diseases.

6.1 The Director of the Division of Public Health or Designee shall designate communicable diseases determined to be high‑risk from the point of view of handling after death. Currently designated diseases include Anthrax, Smallpox, Plague, and the various Hemorrhagic Fevers.

6.2 Should death occur before a definitive diagnosis can be made and when there is even the remote suspicion of one of these illnesses, the physician or hospital should consult with the Chief Medical Examiner or the Director of Public Health. Should it be necessary to hold a body for longer than six hours pending completion of definitive diagnostic work, the body should be sealed immediately following the taking of such specimens as may be needed. The sealing should be completed as described in Preparation a. (below) and held in isolation (refrigerated when possible) pending removal. Otherwise, removal, transport, and cremation should proceed as prescribed by these regulations.

6.3 Whenever death occurs from a designated high‑risk disease, immediate notification shall be provided by the reporting physician, other provider, or the hospital to the Division of Public Health, next of kin, and the funeral director who will have responsibility to handle, transport, or dispose of said body. These reports may be made by fax, telephone, or electronic mail. After business hours, the Division of Public Health emergency line is (302) 739‑4700.

6.4 The Chief Medical Examiner, hospital or funeral director shall ensure that anyone handling a body so designated shall follow strict universal precautions in a manner that minimizes contact between the body, other persons, and the environment. For information concerning universal precautions contact the Office of Vital Statistics.

6.5 Preparation:

6.5.1 The body shall be wrapped in a sheet saturated with a suitable disinfectant. This may be concentrated commercial disinfectant approved for such purpose or it may be embalming powder or high index cavity fluid. This shall be followed by enclosure in a heavy‑duty impervious bag designed for such purpose to assure against leakage.

6.5.2 For transport, the body prepared as in subsection “a.” shall be placed in a suitable firm container such as a “cremation container” in which case it shall be cremated therein, or it may be transported in a temporary firm protective container from which it may be removed for cremation.

6.5.3 For burial or other exempted disposition, the body shall be enclosed in a metal casket liner or a casket that is constructed so as to not allow any seepage whatsoever therefrom and is to be sealed. Burial of bodies dead of designated high‑risk disease must be at a depth of at least 79 inches/ 2 meters.

6.6 Labeling:

6.6.1 It will be the responsibility of the funeral director to ensure that there are attached to the body and its containers in several visible places labels bearing in prominent legible letters the words, “This body is infected with a designated high‑risk disease specified by the Division of Public Health and must be handled and transported in accordance with the precautions required by these regulations”.

6.7 Handling:

6.7.1 Neither embalming nor autopsy shall be performed on such bodies unless specifically authorized by the Chief Medical Examiner or designee.

6.8 Transport:

6.8.1 Transport of a body so designated must be under the conditions described above with the addition that the body must be protected in such a way as to assure that it shall not become uncovered in any reasonably foreseeable accident. Transport out of state shall be prohibited unless approved by the Director of Public Health or designee and the receiving jurisdiction.

6.9 Removal:

6.9.1 A body may be removed from the firm protective container in which it was transported once it has reached the funeral home or crematory where the body shall be prepared for cremation or other disposition if authorized. Such container used exclusively for transport may be re‑used following suitable disinfection.

6.10 Services:

6.10.1 No viewing of the body or public services in the presence of the body shall be permitted.

6.10.2 Cremation is the disposal method of choice for any designated high‑risk communicable disease. If burial is permitted as an exception, it must be promptly performed and the body must remain sealed as described above throughout the burial process.

6.10.3 The Director of Public Health or designee upon request may waive any requirement of these regulations in order to accommodate religious or traditional practices if he or she is satisfied that the proposed practices present no substantial additional risk to any person or the environment.


7.0 Shipment Of Bodies Dead Of Non‑contagious Diseases

7.1 The body of any person dead of a non‑contagious disease shall not be removed by common carrier from the registration district in which death occurred except under the following conditions:

7.1.1 When the remains have been thoroughly embalmed and disinfected or when shipped to such a point as can be reached within twenty‑four (24) hours after death, the dead body shall be placed in a substantially constructed casket or coffin; every outside case holding any dead body offered for transportation by common carrier shall be an approved shipping case.

7.1.2 When the bodies are not embalmed or the destination cannot be reached within twenty‑four (24) hours after death, either the casket or outside case must be metal or metal lined and permanently sealed.

7.1.3 When body is removed by common carrier, the State law requires a transit permit, which will be secured from the Office of Vital Statistics.

5 DE Reg. 2300 (6/1/02)


8.0 Burial - Transit Permit

A burial‑transit permit will be issued by the Office of Vital Statistics upon the compliance of the funeral director with the provisions of Section 7 and the presentation of the death certificate.

5 DE Reg. 2300 (6/1/02)


9.0 Disinterments

9.1 No dead body shall be removed from its place of original interment unless a permit from the State Registrar marked “Disinterment Permit” is secured by a licensed funeral director in charge of the disinterment (EXCEPTION – Title 16, 3154 of the Delaware Code). The qualified person making the application shall present to the State Registrar the correct name, age, date of death and cause of death of the body to be disinterred, place of disinterment (hundred and county), together with written consent of next of kin. The State Registrar may require legal proof of such kinship.

9.2 All disinterment permits shall be void after the expiration of thirty (30) days from the date of issue.

9.3 Procedures:

9.3.1 The disinterment and removal must be under the direction of a licensed funeral director and in accordance with the rules governing the transportation of the dead.

9.3.2 The casket in which disinterred bodies are contained shall not be opened at any time.

9.3.3 The funeral director authorized to conduct a disinterment shall be held personally responsible for the enforcement of these requirements.

9.4 Special Provision:

A separate permit shall be secured in respect to each body to be disinterred, except that under special conditions the Department may make special provisions for the mass removal of a number of bodies from a cemetery or burial ground.

5 DE Reg. 2300 (6/1/02)


10.0 Disposition of Amputated Parts of Human Bodies

An amputated part of a human body recovered at an operation or accident may be kept for anatomical purposes and/or disposed of by burial in a cemetery or by cremation in a licensed crematory. If the hospital or institution has facilities for incinerating, the amputated part or parts may be incinerated in such hospital or institution upon the written approval of the patient or next of kin. Where a patient or his next of kin desires such amputated part to be buried in a cemetery or cremated in a licensed crematory, a permit shall be secured by the funeral director from the Office of Vital Statistics upon presentation of a duly executed “Certificate of Amputation”.

The director of the hospital or institution wherein the amputation was performed shall have completed a “Certificate of Amputation” on a form furnished by the Department for immediate delivery to the funeral director, who shall file said “Certificate of Amputation” within forty-eight (48) hours with the proper local or deputy registrar. Such “Certificate of Amputation” may be signed by the operating surgeon or by the intern who assisted in the case. No regular death certificate shall be filed for amputated parts.

5 DE Reg. 2300 (6/1/02)


11.0 Date of Effect

These regulations shall be in full force and effect immediately upon their approval and adoption by the Department.

5 DE Reg. 2300 (6/1/02)



Last Updated: December 12 2018 17:41:12.
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