The Funeral Consumers Alliance and the Board of Funeral Directors

The Funeral Consumers Alliance is a nonprofit organization that promotes advance planning for funeral needs and the consumer’s right to choose a meaningful, dignified and affordable funeral.

Licensing requirements vary by state for funeral directors and embalmers. This site provides licensing information by state. It also adjudicates complaints against practitioners and establishments, and registers intern embalmers.


The Board of Funeral Directors licenses funeral practitioners, funeral establishments and crematoriums, registers intern embalmers, investigates complaints against practitioners and establishments, and hears appeals concerning decisions of the Director. The Board is composed of the State Health Officer and three licensed funeral practitioners who are appointed by the Governor to staggered four-year terms.

The building and all equipment of any funeral service business must be kept in sanitary condition and open at all times for inspection by the Department or the Board. Upon application to the Board, a person or corporation engaged in the business of funeral services must submit a complete and accurate certificate of ownership; the name, address, title and qualifications of each owner, including the amount of owner compensation taken in the form of W-2 wages and dividends, rent or net profit distributions; and the name and address of all stockholders and other persons or corporations having a 10 per centum or greater proprietary, beneficial, equitable or credit interest in the firm.

The Board requires all funeral directors and funeral establishments to maintain a current and valid state and/or federally issued license or registration. The license must be posted in a conspicuous place within the funeral home or the crematorium. The Board also requires all owners and managers to be registered and licensed to practice in this state.


The Board licenses and investigates complaints against 13 licensing categories, including funeral establishments, funeral directors, embalmers, and apprentice embalmers. In addition, the Board regulates approximately 200 licensed private cemeteries. The Board also regulates the profession’s professional and business practices, such as advertising, pricing, and promotions.

All registrants are required to keep complete embalming reports for all cases handled. They must promptly inform the Board of any change in name, ownership or location of a Licensed Funeral Establishment for which they are registered. Similarly, a Type 3, Type 6 or Apprentice Embalmer who changes employment must notify the Board of the new Licensed Funeral Establishment in which they are employed.

Registrants are not permitted to solicit for or receive anything of value in exchange for recommending, referring or employing any business or service related to the disposition of human remains. In addition, they must not disclose confidential or private information or comment on the condition of any dead body entrusted to them.

The names and registration types of registrants must be prominently displayed on all stationery, contracts and other funeral related documents. Registrants must also have their names displayed on all funeral vehicles used in the course of their work. Additionally, a Type 3 or Type 6 registering as an Apprentice Embalmer may not conduct pre-need arrangements unless they have written authorization from their employing Type 3. In such cases, the employing Type 3 must provide the Board with a copy of this written authorization.


If you are planning a career in funeral service, you can prepare by taking courses that will help you gain an understanding of the grieving process and the importance of end-of-life care. You may also wish to consider completing an internship or apprenticeship, if permitted in your state. This can help you gauge whether this is the right career choice for you.

Post-secondary programs in mortuary science are available through colleges and universities, which are accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education. The program you choose will likely include a mix of humanities and science courses. For example, psychology classes will focus on the grieving process while biology or chemistry courses might examine the postmortem decomposition and embalming processes.

SUNY Canton offers an associate degree in funeral services administration with the option of attending on-campus or online. Both options require students to take 69 credits of prescribed courses with the exception of two clinical/lab courses. These include Restorative Art and Funeral Directing Practicum Lab, which are required to be taken on campus in New York City. Students should expect to spend several days on campus completing the clinical/lab course requirements each semester. Students must complete these courses in order to graduate from the program.

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