The Cemetery and Funeral Bureau

The funeral industry is complex and can be confusing. The Cemetery & Funeral Bureau is here to help.

Funeral homes must provide a general price list to consumers upon request. They must also file the death certificate and submit statistical data to the registrar.

Financial assistance is available for funerals costing up to $1,700 for low-income NYC residents. The crematory fee is not excluded from this amount.


The Bureau licenses and regulates funeral directors, embalmers and funeral establishments. It enforces minimum standards, investigates consumer/provider complaints and inspects funeral homes and crematory facilities.

To become licensed as a funeral director, you must graduate from an accredited mortuary science program, pass the National Board Examinations (NBE-Arts and NBE-Sciences) and take and pass the state law exam. You must also have two years of experience as an apprentice embalmer under a licensed embalmer in this state or another state or country.

To become licensed as an embalmer, you must complete a mortuary science program accredited by ABFSE or the International Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards (ICFSEB). You must also pass the state law exam and have two years of experience working under a licensed embalmer in this State or another State or country.


The funeral service profession is regulated by several agencies that protect consumers. For example, funeral homes are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission as well as state boards of mortuary science and cemetery boards.

Some colleges offer degree programs that lead to an associate or bachelor’s degree in mortuary science. Many of these programs are accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE), a national academic accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Most states require future funeral directors to pass a licensing exam. Some schools offer apprenticeships while students are enrolled, which can help them prepare for the licensing exam. The NFDA offers home study classes, webinars, teleconferences and podcasts to provide training courses for its members. All NFDA educational courses are approved for continuing education (CE) credits by the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice and most state licensing boards.


In addition to completing an accredited funeral service or mortuary science education program, prospective funeral directors and embalmers must pass a state board exam. They must also serve an apprenticeship, which can last one to three years. The NFDA offers home study classes, teleconferences, webinars and online learning courses for funeral directors and embalmers to keep them abreast of changes in the industry.

A career in funeral service requires compassion, empathy and interpersonal skills to work with grieving families. It also requires technical skills to conduct arrangement conferences, visitations and services, and management skills to operate a funeral establishment. Students who choose a career in this field typically have interests in the Helping, Persuading and Organizing Holland Code interest areas. Scholarships are available for funeral service students.


Funeral professionals must adhere to fundamental ethical principles that are based on trust and honesty. This is especially important since the clients they serve are often in a vulnerable state following the loss of a loved one and may be particularly susceptible to being taken advantage of.

Members must be sensitive to family and survivor needs and do not dissuade them from pursuing the services they feel are most appropriate. In addition, they abide by their job descriptions and facility policies and seek first-line guidance from the licensed funeral director who supervises them on any ethical/legal concern or dilemma.

Members must keep their establishment clean and sanitary at all times to avoid health hazards, as well as comply with all federal and state laws and regulations pertaining to the funeral industry. They also must make their establishments open at all reasonable hours to public inspection.


A client’s grief can be compounded by a number of decisions that must be made under emotional duress. Among the most important is what kind of funeral to choose and how much it will cost.

Consumers have the right to get information about prices and services when they meet with you in person or over the telephone to discuss at-need arrangements. You must also provide price lists to representatives of a religious group, burial society or memorial society when they inquire about funeral arrangements on behalf of their members.

Funeral homes must also give consumers price and other information over the phone if they request it, even if it is after hours. They may not charge a fee to give this information. The Funeral Consumers Alliance advocates for this right.

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