Hospital Mortuary

Private Mortuary

Transfer of the body to a hospital or private mortuary, or the residence

Requisioning a funeral home for transport

Authorizations for transport before laying in the coffin (legislation)



WB00860_1.GIF (969 octets)  Hospital Mortuary

A hospital mortuary (amphitheatre, depository, altar of repose, morgue) is located within a hospital, a care centre, a hospice or a retirement home.
It employs salaried personnel called "mortuary and disinfection service agents" or "morticians".
Hospital Mortuaries are part of hospital services.

Use of a hospital mortuary is free of charge for the first 3 days following admission.
No transportation fees may be charged.

A hospital mortuary may be designated as an autopsy site for forensic purposes. (Section R 44-7 and 9 of the Public Health code)

In rural regions where there are no funerary facilities nearby, a hospital mortuary may accept the body of a person who died outside its own premises, for a fee (Legislation 202-276, 02/27/02)


WB00860_1.GIF (969 octets)  Private Mortuary

A private mortuary is a private structure to receive remains waiting for burial or cremation. It is mostly used in some cases of death at home. Unlike a hospital mortuary, a private mortuary may not accept the bodies of persons who died of certain contagious diseases.
All Private Mortuaries are managed by funeral homes.
Private mortuaries are part of the external services of funeral homes.

They fall under the category either of :
    - Funeral home or Funeral parlour,
    - the trade name of : Funérarium®, Athanée®, Maison Funéraire®, etc.

Stay and transportation to a funeral home are onerous and may not be imposed.
(Payment or refund is made by the care centre, the retirement home or the family)


WB00860_1.GIF (969 octets)   Transfer of the body upon request from an institution

Upon death in a hospital, a private clinic, a hospice or a retirement home :
The transfer of the body to a private funeral home or the residence is not mandatory and cannot be required of the relatives.
Placement in the coffin and closure of the coffin can always be done where the death occurred.

The Ministry of health has confirmed the notion of "medico-social institution residence of the deceased" in the written question n° 01816, Official Gazette of the Senate dated 01/02/03, page 78, which states: "the body of the deceased may remain within as if in its own residence".
The mortal remains may remain 6 days in a retirement home belonging to the medico-social sector and not related to a health facility, in accordance with the Code Général des Collectivités Territoriales. (non-official translation - Section R. 2213-33 and R.2213-35)

1) You may be offered

  • Either :
    To display the body in the mortuary of a public health institution or a private funeral home nearby (only if the death occurred in a care centre): free of charge for the first 3 days.

  • Or :
    The body may be sent to a funeral home, upon request from the Director of the institution : transport and stay free of charge.
    In the event of an agreement on your part and taking in consideration the lack of equipment, an "admission request to the private funeral home" must be signed by you.
    To avoid being billed and to ensure that this is not considered a specific request on your part, write next to your signature :
                           "transfer upon request from the Director of the institution, at no cost to the family"

Important : The Director of a retirement home may take the initiative to have the body transported to a private funeral home, providing he or she confirms in writing his or her failed attempts to contact a person qualified to make the funeral arrangements within 10 hours of the death. Costs of transportation and stay remain the responsibility of that institution.

  • Or :
    The return of the deceased to his or her residence, or that of a family member: you are responsible for the transportation costs.

You may also wish for the body not to remain in an institution but request it to be transported to the residence. A 24 hours delay will be granted, 48 hours with preservation care.
In this instance, and in order to fulfil your wishes, you will be charged all costs (various steps, body bag, transportation, embalming, etc.)

Section R. 2223-79
The remains of a person who has died in a public or private health institution, not mandated by section L 2223-39 to have mortuary facilities, and when this is done at the request of the Director of the institution, the costs of transportation to the funeral home are the responsibility of the institution, as well as the costs for the first 3 days of stay following admission. (non-official translation)

Institutions lacking mortuary facilities will refund expenses incurred  for transportation of the remains and the first 3 days of stay to the qualified person to make funerary arrangements, upon presentation of receipts detailing the services provided. (non-official translation - excerpt from A.N. 21/06/1999 p. 3824, le Ministre de l'Emploi et de la Solidarité).
Full text of the "Assemblée Nationale", 06/21/1999, page 3824 (French langage)
Should you consent to the transfer to a funeral home: the costs of transfer and the first 3 days of stay following admission are the responsibility of that care facility, as they are free of charge to the family.
(non-official translation - Sec. R. 361-40, Code des communes, decree-law n° 94-1027, 11/23/1994)

2) You may be asked to contact an agency to have it provide transportation of the
     remains to a funeral home.

Such request is unethical and takes advantage of your lack of knowledge.

  • Refuse to make the call and do not approach such an agency in any manner :
    the transfer request must come from the institution, not you.

  • If you agree to such transfer, do not forget to write on the authorization presented to you:
    "transfer upon request from the Director of the institution, at no cost to the family"



Fleche.rouge.gif (871 octets)  In the case of a person dying in a retirement home (considered the residence of the deceased) do not listen to the following arguments :
        - "Our institution habitually transfers the remains to a funeral home."
        - "The legislation requires the remains to be transferred from the premises as soon as possible."
        - "The remains must be retrieved by the family within two hours."

Fleche.rouge.gif (871 octets)  Certain care centres, retirement homes and corporations managing funeral homes have agreements.

Fleche.rouge.gif (871 octets)  The practices of transfer may also aim to channel clientele for the benefit of certain funeral homes corporations.
      (condemned by the Conseil de la Concurrence)

Fleche.rouge.gif (871 octets)  Denounce abusive stipulations by retirement homes that force families to transfer the mortal remains. 
     (this is sometimes a condition of registration or admission in an institution!)

Fleche.rouge.gif (871 octets)  Research the costs of transportation to a funeral home before taking such action, if you so desire.

Fleche.rouge.gif (871 octets)  Be critical in selecting a funeral home (free choice since January 1998)

Section L. 361-19-1. of the law of January 8, 1993.
Public or private health institutions satisfying the conditions fixed by Council of State decree-law must provide a mortuary where the mortal remains of the persons who died there must be placed. (non-official translation)

Section 11, decree-law 97-1039, November 14, 1997.
Health institutions where more than 200 deaths occur annually are no longer authorized to enter into contractual agreement with private funeral homes. (non-official translation)

Section 9, decree-law 95-653, May 9, 1995.
Public or private health institutions must post in their mortuary, in a place accessible to the public, and give to anyone upon request a list of qualified funeral homes. (non-official translation)

Official Gazette, May 10, 1995, Section 32.
When the remains of a deceased person have been admitted to a funeral home in accordance with Sections R. 361-37, second paragraph, second and third hyphen, and R. 361-38, Code des communes (transfer upon request from the Director of an institution, Editor's note), and this funeral home includes, within the dispositions of Section L. 361-19, Code des communes, premises where other external services of funeral homes are offered, the manager of the funeral home may not take an order for these other services before receiving from the qualified person to make the funeral arrangements a signed document by the said person, attesting he or she has previously consulted the list mentioned in Section 31 above. (non-official translation)
(Prefecture list of qualified funeral home societies, Editor's note)


WB00860_1.GIF (969 octets)  Particular case of requisition of a funeral home

In the event of a death on a public road or in order to satisfy public health requirements, a society for the transportation of mortal remains may be requisitioned. The Mayor or the Director of Public Prosecution may demand payment of transportation costs before placement in the coffin and transportation to the family.
(non-official translation - Code Général des Collectivités Territoriales, Sections L.2212-2, 5° and L.2215-1)


WB00860_1.GIF (969 octets)  Funerary transportation before laying in the coffin

The decree-law n° 2002-1065, August 5, 2002, authorizes one or several funerary transports without placement in a coffin from where the remains are initially housed to the residence of the deceased, a family residence or a private funeral home, whether the initial housing of the remain was done by the family or upon request from the police.

Section R. 2213-7.
Without prejudice to specific requirements set in Section R. 2223-77, transport of a deceased person, without placement in a coffin, to his or her residence, the residence of a family member or a funeral home is authorized whatever the initial location of the remains, within the stipulations of Sections R. 2213-8, R. 2213-9 and R.2213-11, by the Mayor of the place of repose of the remains. (non-official translation)

Section R. 2213-8.
The authorization is subject to:
1° The request of a qualified person to make funeral arrangements and proof of identity and residence;
2° Preliminary identification of the remains by such person;
3° The death occurring in a home for the aged or a health institution,
     with written consent from the Director;
4° The written consent of the Departmental Senior medical officer of a public health institution, or his/her representative,
    or the attending physician in a private health institution or the physician who registered the death, if the death occurred
    outside a health facility;
5° The preliminary fulfilling of formalities required by Sections 78, 79 and 80 of the Civil Code relative to the attestation
    of death. (non-official translation)

Section R. 2213-9.
The refusal of the physician, mentioned in Section R. 2213-8, is justified. The physician may only oppose the transport in the following instances:
1° The death raises a forensic concern;
2° At the time of death, the deceased was suffering from a contagious disease contained in the list issued by decree-law
     of the Minister in charge of Health, after consultation with the Conseil supérieur d'hygiène publique de France;
3° The condition of the remains does not permit transportation.
    When the physician opposes the transport of the remains without a coffin, he informs immediately the family
     in writing and if necessary the Director of the institution. (non-official translation)

Section R. 2213-10.
If the death occurs in an administrative region other than where the remains are transferred, then a notice of authorization of transport must be sent without delay to the Mayor of that commune. (non-official translation)

Section R. 2213-11.
When preservation care of the remains stipulated in paragraph 1 have not been administered, the transportation of the remains must take place within twenty-four hours of death. The period can be extended to forty-eight hours if such care has been administered. The report stipulated in Section R. 2213-4 is added to the file created for the transport of the remains. (non-official translation)

Section R. 2213-12.
When the permission is denied, the remains may not be transported until placed in a coffin and within the stipulations of Sections R. 2213-15 to R. 2213-28. (non-official translation)




Association Française d'Information Funéraire