The Go-To Funeral Guide From Death to Funeral

Death is such a tragic event for anyone—including those who live in Singapore. However, the subject is often avoided in many conversations. But when you have a friend or you have a loved one pass away, it helps to talk about how to move on.

In this guide, we will go over some of the most important customs and regulations about having a funeral in Singapore. We will also touch on a few legalities as well as we go along with the discussion.

When to Register the Death

One of the first things that friends and family members should do when someone passes on is to register the said death. Local laws mandate that this should be done within 24 hours. After it has been registered or recorded, the next thing you need to secure is a document called a CCOD or Certificate of Cause of Death.

Securing a Certificate of Cause of Death

The process of securing a CCOD will vary depending on where the death has occurred. Some deaths can occur within the premises of a hospital and others occur outside of medical facilities such as in the home or other locations.

Here are a few important details that you should keep in mind:

1. Death in a Hospital

The process of obtaining a CCOD is rather straightforward when a loved one dies in a hospital. There is already a system in place, which makes everything a lot easier. In many instances, the cause of death can already be determined by the attending physician.

The doctor can prepare the CCOD for you as soon as possible. You will have to get it from the hospital which will release it along with other essential documentation. You may also request assistance from the hospital staff like the nurses on the station so could know the procedure for release.

2. Death Outside the Hospital/At a Home

Another scenario is that the death of a loved one occurs outside a hospital, most likely in the home. There is no doctor present at the time, so how do you secure your CCOD? You start by contacting a doctor to identify the cause of death.

You can get a neighborhood general practitioner to do it. But if you have a family doctor, you can contact that medical professional instead. In this case, it will be a house call and it can typically cost you anywhere from $200 to $300.

The doctor that will come to your home will need to know the deceased’s medical history. This will help them determine the cause of death. This information also allows them to issue the cause of death certificate as soon as possible.

Other than the medical history, other things can help doctors determine the cause of death, which includes the following:

  • Prescriptions and medications that the patient took before his or her death
  • Discharge summaries and other information from the hospital
  • Previous medical records issued by other doctors

3. What Happens If Doctors Cannot Certify Cause of Death?

There are instances when doctors in Singapore can’t identify the cause of death. If that is the case then you have to send the body to the Singapore General Hospital mortuary for investigation. Contact the police and they will provide a hearse to pick up the body.

The family will then be contacted by the police the following day giving further instructions. Please prepare the following documents to be submitted to the authorities:

  • Deceased’s identification such as passports and NRIC
  • Prescriptions and medications that the patient took before his or her death
  • Discharge summaries and other information from the hospital
  • Previous medical records issued by other doctors
  • Identification documents of family members

4. Death Occurring Overseas

Deaths that occur outside of Singapore must be reported and registered with the nearest Singapore Overseas Mission or with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). The remains of the deceased can be brought back to the country. However, take note that a Coffin (Import) Permit will be required.

The death of a loved one overseas must be reported to the Registry of Births & Deaths. This can be performed by an authorized proxy or a next-of-kin. You will need to report to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) Building to get the documentation.

How much would it cost to send the remains of the deceased back to Singapore? The current industry estimates range from $10,000 to $15,000. Make sure to speak to an experienced funeral director since there are certain restrictions in the country. Talk to them about other options such as cremation before transport among other things.

Preparing for the Funeral

The key document that you will need after registration is the CCOD. Remember that you can obtain that from your doctor (if the death occurred in the home) or at the hospital. This document will help funeral directors to set things up like the wake, embalming, and collecting the body from the mortuary.

The funeral director will also need a few things from you like your choice of funeral portrait and clothing for the deceased.

Apart from that, several items should be on your agenda as you prepare. They include the following:

1. Funeral costs

Funeral costs in Singapore can range anywhere from $4,000 to upwards of $24,000. Several factors come into play such as the location of the wake, types of ceremonies, the religion of the deceased and their family, and funeral package inclusions.

To help ease the burden of the cost, you can check if the deceased has not nominated any CPF money. You can use these funds to get reimbursements of up to $6,000. You need to apply for that at the Public Trustee’s Office.

Note that the processing of your reimbursement usually takes one month. So, please expect to be reimbursed after the funeral rites have been completed. You will be required to submit the receipts of your funeral expenses, bank statements, accomplish an indemnity form, and fill out and submit a funeral reimbursement declaration form.

2. Religious rites

Funeral rites vary from one religion to the next. It will be in your best interest to work with an all-inclusive funeral services provider. We can cater to all funerals for all major religious groups in Singapore such as Catholic Funerals, Christian Funerals, Taoist Funerals, Buddhist Funerals and Soka Funerals.

For example, in some religions, cremation is not allowed, or at least it is not recommended. Note, however, that 82 percent of registered deaths in Singapore get cremated.

A small minority of these cremations are performed in private crematoria. The majority is performed in the Mandai Crematorium, a government-owned facility. Cremation costs can range from $100 to $900.

You may also be expected to provide fees or contributions for different rituals such as prayers and chants. These will be conducted according to specific customs.

3. Funeral venue

The funeral venue will be an individual choice. Sometimes the deceased may have a few instructions before he or she passed away, which can include the venues like churches and other religious edifices.

Speak to a funeral director today so you can make these arrangements. Leverage on their network so you have plenty of options. Some options may include private apartment grounds, a funeral parlor, chapels, and other religious places, and other landed properties.

4. Extra items in funeral packages

Funeral packages include the basics such as flowers, lighting, and other setups. However, there may be items in a funeral package that you ought to consider. This may include the following:

  • The type of casket
  • Embalming and other services
  • Tents, tables, and chairs
  • Fans and air conditioning
  • Portable toilets
  • Transportation for mourners
  • Snacks and food catering
  • Transportation for the deceased
  • Funeral procession

5. Duration of the Wake

Funeral wakes in Singapore usually last anywhere from three to five days. This is of course depends on the religion of the deceased. The prices of funeral packages also vary depending on the number of days you will spend for the wake. The more days you allocate, the higher the cost.

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