Houston Cremation 101: How Long Does Cremation Take?

Cremation is an affordable and eco-friendly method of managing a loved one’s remains. However, if a family is in a hurry to complete the end-of-life process, a Houston cremation may not be the most efficient way of dealing with remains. How long does cremation take in Texas, and why might a Houston cremation take longer than somewhere else?

A Houston Cremation Requires a Waiting Period

One of the reasons that a Houston cremation might take longer than cremation in another state is that Texas law requires 48 hours to pass before cremation can occur. This is because cremation is more final than burial; in a traditional burial, for example, the body can be exhumed. Cremation, however, is permanent.

Certain authorities can approve an early cremation ahead of the 48-hour Texas waiting period. The county medical examiner or a justice of the peace may approve an early cremation, and families can also get court orders to conduct the cremation before the deadline is up. However, those are exceptions, not the rule.

Potential Reasons for Extended Cremation Delays

The Texas 48-hour cremation waiting period is only one of the potential reasons for Houston cremation delays. In reality, several factors can contribute to cremation delays, including:

  • Failure to sign documents quickly: The next of kin are often asked to sign documents acknowledging that the loved one is being cremated. If any of the next of kin delay signing these documents, it delays the cremation.
  • Lack of participation in the online system for certifying deaths: Texas provides an online system for certifying deaths that enables documents to be completed electronically. Unfortunately, doctors aren’t required to use the online system, and many doctors don’t. When doctors don’t use the online system, printed documents must be signed by the doctor and returned to the funeral home. The funeral home submits the printed and signed documents to the county. Errors result in rejection and starting again, further delaying the process.
  • Delays by the doctor: Texas doctors have up to five days to complete the medical certification once they receive it. The cremation process can’t move forward until the doctor has signed this document, so any delay by the doctor delays the Houston cremation process.

Work with a Trusted Houston Cremation Provider

The best thing that families can do to speed up the Texas cremation process is to work with a trusted Houston cremation provider and encourage the doctor to complete paperwork in a timely manner. A good cremation provider is experienced in navigating the cremation process and can help resolve obstacles and identify possible delays before they become issues.


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.