Is Embalming Necessary?

Short Answer -Sometimes Yes, Sometimes No

Is Embalming NecessaryMany people believe that the process of embalming before a person can be buried is absolutely necessary. It may surprise you to learn that isn’t always the case. It really depends on where you happen to live, and other circumstances regarding the deceased and what arrangements  are planned.

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If a person is to be cremated soon after death, then it won’t be required in any state in the U.S.  Generally, the cremation must occur within 48 hours of death or embalming will be necessary. There can also be some special circumstances that mandate for it to be conducted.


For example, when there is a communicable or contagious disease, embalming is going to be required. The doctor will be the one to have the final say regarding if it is necessary or not. There are certain types of diseases where it absolutely won’t be done. Ironically, with certain ailments, embalming could actually increase the risk of the disease being spread.

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Not all individuals will be buried where they die, and that can influence the requirements for embalming to occur or not. If the body will be shipped across state lines,then it is very likely that it will be a requirement. Such shipment may be done via airline, by a trucking company, or on a ship.

When forming your Pre-Need Plan, be advised that if your plan involves a mausoleum, you will need to be embalmed. If there is to be a public viewing of the body, it will also be mandated for safety reasons. Should embalming not take place and there won’t be a public viewing, proper covering must be secured for the body. A sealed casket must also be what the deceased will be buried in.

 So, is embalming necessary, or what?

With so many variables to consider, it can still seem like you don’t have a definite answer. The short answer is that embalmment is rarely a requirement, but it is often recommended to reduce the deterioration of the body. Foregoing embalmment can be viewed as a way to stretch the proceeds of your burial insurance policy.

A so-called ‘Green’ burial will not require embalming.  When embalming is not necessary, because of a planned Green burial, cremation, burial at sea -and, some other circumstances, considerable money can be saved on a casket, a vault and the embalming itself.

You can ask the funeral home if embalming is necessary in that location. You can also go online and check out the laws pertaining to it yourself. Your local health department is also a resource that can provide you with such information.

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Additional Information:
Green Burials
Shipping Deceased Across State Lines

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