The Public Health Regulation 2022 (the Regulation) allows the Secretary to approve, generally or in a particular case, the burial of a deceased person in a grave without using a coffin.

Last updated: 01 September 2022


The culture, beliefs, traditions, and religious practices of deceased persons and their families are important considerations in granting an approval to bury a deceased person in a grave without a coffin.

A shrouded burial is an example of a burial where a coffin is not used. In this case, the body of a deceased person is wrapped in a shroud (for example, cotton or linen sheeting) and placed in direct contact with the earth.

Rules for approval

The Regulation section 89 allows the Secretary to grant a general approval (that is, an ongoing approval), or an approval for a particular case (that is, an individual approval).

An application can be made to the local health district public health unit (PHU) for an approval to bury a person in a grave without a coffin.

Approval considerations

General approvals granted under the Regulation do not need to be re-applied for and are considered current if the approval conditions are being complied with and there is no change since the initial application (for example, no change to the agreement with the cemetery authority). However, an individual approval is granted on a case-by-case basis.

General approval conditions

  1. Applicants must apply on the application form.
  2. The applicant must state the relationship to the deceased or position in the community; reason for the exemption; whether an agreement has been negotiated and the name of the cemetery and cemetery manager where the body is to be buried.
  3. Where approval is granted for a shrouded burial, the body must be wrapped for burial in a cloth or sheet that prevents the leakage of body exudate or other substance.
  4. The body must be transported securely and respectfully until it is placed into a grave.
  5. The body must be prepared in a mortuary registered with the NSW Ministry of Health.
  6. The Cemetery Authority has agreed to carry out the burial of a body that has not been placed in a coffin, in particular the handling of bodies on cemetery grounds.
  7. A name plate is to be placed near the body in the grave.
  8. The body of a deceased person who is known or is reasonably believed not to be infected with a prescribed infectious disease. They shall otherwise be buried in a body bag and coffin.

Related documents

Further advice

Current as at: Thursday 1 September 2022
Contact page owner: Environmental Health