How Long Does The Cremation Process Take?

scattering-laws Neptune Society’s scheduling policy states that in most cases cremains are available for release to loved ones within 15 business days from a loved one’s passing. More typically, the process takes about seven business days. However, delays may occur during the process due to the need to obtain signatures on the death certificate, permissions from next of kin, or paperwork from the medical examiner.

Time and paperwork needed to complete this process can also vary depending on whether the individual had a preplanned cremation agreement or not. For a preplanned cremation, the service contract with Neptune Society and family authorizations can be completed in advance, so that the main paperwork that has to be completed at the time of need are the legally required forms, including the death certificate and the authorization for cremation by the coroner. For cremations that are not preplanned, there is contractual paperwork for families to complete that lets Neptune Society know what cremation services are desired.

According to Lori Adamson, Service Manager of the Neptune Society’s San Antonio office, “One of the best things about preplanning is that most of the information we need to complete legal paperwork is already in the file. This takes a great burden off of families at an already stressful time, and it ensures that your wishes are clearly understood and identified.”

The process to cremate begins when Neptune Society takes the deceased into their care. He or she is kept in a safe, climate-controlled environment while all the appropriate paperwork and permits are obtained, which is done according to the following steps.

Step One: Obtain the signed death certificate from the doctor or medical examiner as required by law. The death certificate must be signed before cremation permits can be obtained. Depending on the jurisdiction, the doctor may have several days to do this. For instance, in Bexar County, Texas, the doctor has up to 10 days to sign the death certificate. Neptune Society works with the doctor to expedite delivery of this certificate.

Adamson stated, “One thing families can do to expedite the cremation process is to have all the proper information ready. Know who the doctor is that needs to sign the death certificate. Know your loved one’s vital information, such as social security number, maiden name, names of the deceased’s parents, birthplace city and state, education level, usual occupation, and whether they were a veteran. This will help Neptune Society get the death certificate and other paperwork ordered more quickly.”

Step Two: Obtain family authorizations. Unless the deceased has a preplanned cremation agreement and has pre-authorized consent to be cremated, another important step is to obtain signed authorizations from the deceased’s next of kin. If the deceased has a surviving spouse, the spouse’s authorization is all that is required to proceed with the cremation. If the deceased is survived by his or her children, all children will need to sign the authorization.

An advantage of preplanned cremation is that the cremation authorizations can be handled in advance – the preplanning contract includes a self-authorization form.

Step Three: Obtain required cremation permits. Many states require a permit to cremate the deceased. Once Neptune receives the signed death certificate, these permits can be obtained. It can take as little as a day to process the cremation permit or longer depending on the circumstances.

Step Four: Scheduling with the crematory. When all permits and authorizations have been received, Neptune Society can schedule the cremation. Depending on volume, scheduling usually takes two to three days. Four cremations a day are usually scheduled. After the person is cremated, they are inurned and returned to Neptune’s office within 24 hours.

Please note that the laws and required documents regarding funeral and cremation arrangements vary by state. To learn more about what to expect during the cremation process and the benefits of a preplanned and preauthorized cremation, please contact a Neptune Society representative today.

Special thanks to Lori Adamson, Service Manager of Neptune Society San Antonio for her support and contributions to this post.


The Neptune Society is the nation’s oldest and largest provider of affordable cremation services. Whether you have an immediate need or want to plan cremation services in advance, we are always available to assist you and your family.

Call 1-800-NEPTUNE (800-637-8863) today or contact us online to learn more.