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Cremation in Nova Scotia: Questions and Answers

Daniela Fortino
Daniela Fortino
March 4th 2024 - 15 minute read
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Nova Scotia cremation information, including process, cremation cost, and related funeral information is available in this article. Plus how to make cremation arrangements.

In Nova Scotia, cremation is the preferred end-of-life arrangement over burials according to statistics (click for details shown below). The rate of cremation in the province is the second-highest in Canada only slightly behind British Columbia. Despite this, many residents are unfamiliar with the basics of a cremation funeral. And it is essential to understand the process when making informed end-of-life decisions. We have answered some of the most common questions about cremation in Nova Scotia below, including cremation cost.

Cremation arrangements in Nova Scotia

If you have an immediate need for a loved one who has died, you can make cremation arrangements with us at Eirene. We operate province-wide in Nova Scotia. Our offices are at 31 Esquire Ln, Bedford, Nova Scotia, B4A 0K1 but you can make arrangements online.

What is the process for a cremation funeral in Nova Scotia?

Reporting the death

The cremation process begins with the reporting of the death to appropriate authorities. Afterward, your loved one can be released into the care of the funeral home. After the body arrives, it will be sheltered in the facility until the necessary paperwork is completed. For an unexpected death, contact 911. If death occurs at home, under palliative care, or if death is expected, contact the deceased person's doctor or healthcare professional. More about this below.

Funeral documentation

In Nova Scotia, paperwork must be completed before cremation or other funeral services can commence.

There are three documents required before a cremation can occur in Nova Scotia.

1) Permission from the Nova Scotia Medical Examiner: This is obtained after the Medical Certificate of Death is submitted and approved.
2) Permission from the family for cremation: This is signed by the next of kin authorizing the cremation of their loved one.
3) Burial permit: This can only be obtained after the Medical Certificate of Death and Registration of Death have been filed with the government.

The funeral director is required to obtain this documentation on behalf of the family.

Body Identification

When a body arrives at a funeral provider, it is immediately identified to ensure there are no mixups. This identification process continues throughout the cremation process.

Protocols vary depending on the funeral provider, but it is mainly conducted with the use of:

  • Tags. When a body is received, it is tagged (e.g., with a bracelet on the wrist or ankle). The tag identifies information such as the name, date of birth, etc. It is then checked throughout preparation and rechecked before the body is placed in the cremation chamber.
  • Discs. These small, coin-shaped tags are made from stainless steel and are about the size of a quarter. They contain identifying information that can be matched with the deceased person’s paperwork. The tag is placed in the cremation chamber with the body but does not get destroyed. After cremation, it is included in the urn with the ashes.

As another level of protection, Eirene requires a recent photograph of the deceased person and/or we also use tattoos, body landmarks, scars or moles to aid in identification.

Types of cremation

There are two types of cremation – flame cremation and aquamation (water cremation). However, aquamation is not yet legal in Nova Scotia for use on humans and would require the provincial government to change regulations to allow funeral providers to offer it.

In flame cremation, a body is exposed to flame and extreme heat in a purpose-made chamber. This reduces organic matter to bone fragments, which are thereafter pulverized to create cremated remains or "ashes".

Due to the extreme heat, all combustible materials are destroyed. This includes clothes, some jewelry, etc. In addition, non-combustible materials, such as medical devices (e.g., pacemakers), are removed from the body, as they can pose a risk to cremation machinery and staff. Other metals, like fillings and joint replacements, will not be destroyed but are typically not removed beforehand.

After preparation, the body is placed in a container or kept in the casket and placed in the cremation chamber. The body is exposed to temperatures ranging from 760 to 980 Celsius (1400 to 1796F).

The body is consumed by heat except for bone fragments and non-combustible materials. After a cooling period, leftover metals are separated using a magnet and recycled.

Bone fragments are mechanically processed into a coarse powder called ashes, then placed in an urn or temporary container and returned to the family. This can be sent via mail, picked up, or delivered.

Is embalming required in Nova Scotia?

Embalming, which is temporary body preservation using chemicals, is only required in Nova Scotia if a body is to be viewed in a public ceremony and only if the viewing or visitation takes place after 72 hours after death. In most cases deceased loved ones are embalmed if they will be viewed in a casket.

Instead, refrigeration can be used for a short period of time. Direct cremation companies like Eirene work to complete cremation and return ashes within 7 days. Learn more about embalming and the legal requirements in Canada here.

Do Nova Scotians prefer burial or cremation?

Cremation rates across Canada have steadily increased over the last couple of decades. The cremation rate has grown from 47.7 per cent in 2000 to 73.1 per cent as of 2020. This increase has been seen in Nova Scotia too. The provincial cremation rate in Nova Scotia rose from 62.4 per cent in 2010 to 83.2 per cent in 2020. Cremation as a final disposition choice is forecast to hit 89.5% by 2025, according to a 2020 report by the Cremation Association of North America (CANA).

One of the main reasons for this is the cost difference between cremation and burials. A traditional burial in Nova Scotia will cost anywhere from $3,000 to over $12,000. There is also additional fees for caskets ($900 to $20,000+), burial plots ($200 to $3,000+), interment ($3000 to $500,000), etc. By contrast, cremation packages range from $2,500 to $10,000, with direct cremation usually falling under $3,000.

People also choose cremation because it is more sustainable than burial. There is less land use as ashes can be scattered instead of buried. And even if buried, the space needed is less than a casket burial. Fewer products and services are required to fulfill a cremation funeral.

Cremation also offers simplicity and flexibility. The funerary process is completed within a few days and forgoes elaborate and resource-intensive funeral events when choosing direct cremation.

Moreover, cremation allows for the ashes of a loved one to be divided among family members or made into jewelry. Therefore, those who cannot attend a funeral or are in a different city or country can have their loved ones with them wherever they live.

Where in Nova Scotia is cremation conducted?

Cremation is conducted at several licensed funeral homes or crematoriums across the province. A crematorium is a purpose-built facility containing a retort (cremation furnace) designed to facilitate cremating the bodies of deceased people.

Before cremation, an authorization to cremate must be signed by legal representation or next of kin. In addition, every crematorium operator must have a Funeral Home License on display.

What does cremation cost in Nova Scotia?

The cost of cremation in Nova Scotia is on par with the rest of Canada. Generally, a cremation package can run up to $10,000 depending on what is included in the arrangement package. Direct cremation packages - which exclude embalming and visitation or viewings, typically fall on the lower end of this range at $1500 to $3500.

The price for the cremation process itself as a component of a funeral is typically around $500 to $700.

At Eirene, we believe every Canadian deserves to access quality death care and deserves honest and fair pricing. Learn more about our cremation packages and prices here.

We have also partnered with Affirm payments to ensure every family has access to affordable death care. Once approved, Affirm allows you to make time payments for your desired services with no hidden fees or late fees. Even if you are not eligible for Affirm’s payment plan, we will work with you to ensure you get the support you need.

Other fees, such as urn purchase and interment, can add to the price. The cost of an urn ranges from $10 to upwards of $2,000. See a range of urn prices in Canadian dollars on Eirene's online urn store.

Interment of ashes in the ground at a Nova Scotia cemetery range from $600 to over $3,000, depending on the plot size. Interment in a niche or columbarium ranges from $700 to over $3,500.

Further guidance on funeral expenses is available at this provincial government website:

Learn more about prices and fees related to end-of-life arrangements in our funeral costs article.

How is cremation regulated in Nova Scotia?

The provincial government of  Nova Scotia is responsible for regulating end-of-life service including cremation, burials and cemeteries. Learn more about regulation here. When Nova Scotians purchase funeral services or goods, they are protected under provincial regulations such as the Cemetery and Funeral Services Act and the Embalmers and Funeral Directors Act. You can also read Nova Scotia funeral regulations here: Cemetery and Funeral Services Regulations made under Section 28 of the Cemetery and Funeral Services Act.

What should I do when someone dies in Nova Scotia?

When someone dies in Nova Scotia, it must be reported to the necessary authorities. If the death is unexpected, police or emergency services should be contacted. They will be dispatched to the location and call the medical examiner. The body must be released by the medical examiner before being transported to a funeral home.

If the death is expected or occurs in a hospital or care facility, staff will likely take care of the initial phone calls, such as calling the medical examiner or funeral home. The body must be released before being picked up by the funeral provider or medical examiner's office.

Again, the medical examiner must release the body before being picked up by the funeral home. Once the body is at the funeral home, families can begin making funeral arrangements with a provider.

It is essential to report the death as soon as possible after death. This is especially important for organ donation, as there is a window of four to 72 hours after death, depending on the organ.

After legal phone calls are finished, it is vital to notify friends and family. Start with immediate family and friends and extend from there. It is also crucial to inform employers and life insurance companies (if applicable).  

What is direct cremation and it is available in Nova Scotia?

Direct cremation refers to the cremation of a body shortly after a person has died. It eliminates additional funeral services, such as visitation, viewing, wake, etc. It also eliminates the need for chemical preservation, such as embalming. This makes it a cost-effective option when compared to burials.

Direct cremation is offered in Nova Scotia via Eirene or a few other funeral providers.

What is water cremation or aquamation and is it available in Nova Scotia?

Aquamation is a water-based form of cremation. Bodies are cremated using the chemical process of alkaline hydrolysis.

The process involves placing a body in a stainless steel vessel. It is exposed to heat, pressure, water, and alkali (potassium hydroxide), which creates a reaction that speeds up decomposition. Remaining afterward are bone fragments and a sterile liquid. The bone fragments are pulverized to make a fine powder. The liquid is disposed of as wastewater.

Aquamation is not yet legal as a funerary practice in Nova Scotia. However, it is allowable in four provinces and one territory in Canada – Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and the Northwest Territories.

It is also legal for use on pets in all provinces. Learn more about aquamation and its legality at the following links:

Where can I buy a cremation urn in Nova Scotia?

Cremation urns can be purchased in Nova Scotia from a funeral provider, crematorium, mausoleum, or online.  It is also legal in Nova Scotia to make your own urn. Eirene offers urn options online in its web store at We offer free urn shipping to Nova Scotia families (and to families across Canada).

Is funeral financial assistance available in Nova Scotia?

Several provincial and federal financial assistance programs are offered to Nova Scotia residents. These are listed below.  

Provincial Funeral Assistance Programs:

  • Income Assistance
  • Workplace Compensation Board Survivors Benefits
  • Pension Plans
  • Body Donation programs
  • Will assistance

Federal Funeral Assistance Programs:

  • Canadian Pension Plan
  • Last Post Fund for Veterans
  • Income Assistance Program (Indigenous Services Canada)
  • Memorial Grant Program for First Responders
  • Allowance for the Survivor
  • Canadian Benefit for Parents of Young Victims of Crime
  • Lived or Living Outside Canada

This article discusses these programs in detail: Nova Scotia Government Funeral Financial Assistance Programs.

What is the lowest cost funeral in the province?

Direct cremation is the lowest cost option for a funeral in Nova Scotia. It forgoes expensive and time sensitive ceremonies such as viewings and visitations and eliminates the need for embalming.
Direct cremation packages in Nova Scotia cost $2000 to $4000. Learn more about Eirene's direct cremation offerings.

How do I make cremation arrangements online?

Cremation arrangements with Eirene can be initiated online or by phone. You have the option to arrange the cremation directly or speak to a licensed funeral director, who will assist you through the process.

The required information can be provided via our site, or you can call 1-888-712-5337. Our team is available 24/7. You can also leave your contact information, and a staff member will return your call.

Start arranging or learn more about the process on our website:

Can I preplan a cremation funeral in Nova Scotia?

Yes. Anyone can preplan a cremation funeral no matter what age they are. This option is increasingly popular as it brings peace of mind and ensures end-of-life wishes are honoured. Preplanning a funeral is a common practice across Canada and is available through most funeral providers, including funeral providers in Nova Scotia. If you are interested in prearranging your funeral, click here to request further information.  

When did Eirene start offering cremation in Nova Scotia?

Eirene is a Canadian company that started offering cremation services in Nova Scotia in the spring of 2022. We have a funeral director based in the Halifax area and conduct cremation services province-wide. See more information about our launch in Nova Scotia or learn more about the cremation process in Halifax.

What can I do with cremation ashes?

What options are there for scattering ashes in Nova Scotia?

Scattering of ashes can be conducted on a body of water or in the wilderness in Nova Scotia, whereas scattering of cremation ashes on property is subject to the laws regarding property. Check local or municipal bylaws. Do not scatter near water resources used as drinking water. Our funeral director can assist with any questions. See also more about ash scattering in Nova Scotia.

Contact us via email at about your options. You can also buy a niche in a cemetery columbarium. Here are some alternatives:

Have more questions about cremation in Nova Scotia?

Email our experts at Also, see our Cremation Q&A page. To make immediate arrangements, click here. To see the locations we serve in Nova Scotia, click here.

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