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Is an Outer Burial Container Required by Law?

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When planning a funeral, and opting for burial in a cemetery, many individuals have obvious concerns about costs adding up and what ultimately is or is not required. A very common question that many people ask in the funeral planning process is that of whether an outer burial container is required by law.

Outer burial containers, also known as burial vaults or grave liners, are most commonly used in that of a traditional funeral. Ultimately, this structure is put in the ground prior to the burial and the casket is placed within it. An outer burial container is designed to support the earth around the casket and help prevent a possible cave in as time passes. There are differences between a vault and a liner—and we will discuss those differences in a future article. For the time being, the most pressing question that needs answering is that of whether or not you actually have to buy one of these structures.

The short answer is no, an outer burial container is not typically required by federal or state law. However, many funeral providers may not tell you this. At the same time, while this might not be an actual law that you must follow in a traditional burial, the fact of the matter is that a cemetery may require you to have an outer burial container if you wish to utilize their facilities. This is simply for the sake of preserving their grounds and their business. A cemetery is unlikely to continue to operate if they have sinkholes all over their property.

Of course, these requirements are determined by individual cemetery owners, but realize that location may play into the equation. Cemeteries in urban areas that use earth moving equipment in the burial process are more likely to require an outer burial container over that of a rural cemetery that has less complicated burial procedures.

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