A burial involves a funeral service followed by interment (earth burial). The procedures to perform an earth burial are the same across the country, except for some differences pertaining to the actual acquisition and/or use of a burial plot. This section explains the common procedures to register a death and attain the necessary documents to be taken to the cemetery keeper or Corporation. This section does not however, delve into the specific procedures for each Municipal/Regional Corporation for the opening and closing of a grave. Worry not, our experienced staff will guide and assist you in this part of the process regardless of where you choose to bury your loved one.
For further details on location, laws and regulations governing death registrations and burial ground use, please refer to the following links:
● Click here for a list of Cemeteries at the official website of the Ministry of Rural Development & Local Government.
● Click here to access a copy of the Burial Grounds Act of Trinidad & Tobago from the official website of the the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs.
● Click here to access the Births and Deaths Registration Act of Trinidad & Tobago from the official website of the the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs
Regardless of where you would like to bury, you must first register the death in order to obtain a Death Certificate, which is required by every cemetery to open and close a grave.
A death registration must be made within five days of a death at the Registrar of Births and Deaths in the district where the death occurred. This process may be lengthened in the event of an investigation/inquiry into the cause of death by the Coroner. The following general steps are for your guidance:
- You must obtain a Medical Certificate for the Cause of Death which is issued by a Medical Practitioner or Medical Facility.
- You must then take the following documents to the Registrar of Births and Deaths District Office in the district where the death occurred,
- The Medical Certificate for the Cause of Death
- The Electronic (Polymer) Birth Certificate of the deceased
- A copy of both sides of the ID of the deceased
- A copy of both sides of the ID of the person responsible for registering the death
- The District Registrar's Office will issue three (3) copies of the Death Certificate (Old Form) and one (1) copy of the Cause of Death Certificate. Please click on the following links for the the District Offices Locations and District Registrars Listing:
- You then take the Death Certificate (Old Form) to apply for the opening and closing of a grave at the cemetery. As stated above, this section does not document details of the numerous variations in procedure of each Municipal/Regional managed cemetery.
- NOTE: Should you plan to apply for the National Insurance Funeral Grant or other beneficiary sources of funds such as insurance, you will need to apply for the Electronic (polymer) Death Certificate at a cost of TT$25.00. In order to obtain this electronic version, you must take the old form Death Certificate and all the documents used to obtain it to the Registrar General’s Department Office. Please see the locations below to determine your district office.
Registration House (Head Office)
72-74 South Quay
Port of Spain
Tel.: 624-3480 or 623-7163
9 Leotaud Street
Tel: 657-7619 or 653-4222
10-10A Devenish Street
No. 2 Caroline Building
11 Hamilton Street
Tel.: 639-3210 or 639-1330
- Once you've completed the above steps, you can bring all the documents to the Funeral Home to begin arrangements. We have summarized the documents below, but, please note a family can come into our office to start preliminary arrangements before they have completed the above steps:
- One (1) copy of the Cause of Death Certificate
- One (1) of the copies of the old form Death Certificate you received from the Registrar of Births and Deaths District Office
- One (1) copy of the Electronic (polymer) Death Certificate (where applicable)
- One (1) copy of the deceased's ID
- One (1) copy of the ID of the person responsible for making arrangements
What is required to open and close a grave?
There is a fee related to opening and closing a grave. This fee is payable to the Municipal/Regional Corporation which manages the cemetery. These fees can range in price from cemetery to cemetery. The cost can also vary depending on the difficulty of opening the grave site (e.g. if the grave site is in a particularly difficult place or contains concrete slabs etc.).
Can we dig our own grave to avoid the charge for opening and closing?
The ability to bring your own resources to open and close a grave is dependent on the cemetery and the Municipal/Regional Corporation it falls under. Some Corporations allow families to dig their own grave and others absolutely forbid it due to safety issues, damage to cemetery property and the protection of other grave sites, In the case of the latter, the opening and closing of the grave is conducted by cemetery grounds personnel only. However, regardless of the guidelines and restrictions, the Funeral Home will help families who would like to make these arrangement themselves.
What happens when a cemetery runs out of burial space?
When a cemetery runs out of burial space, it will continue to operate and serve the community as there are provisions in the Act to allow for the re-opening and sale of grave sites. The Act states that a "grave shall be re-opened within seven years after the burial of a person above twelve years of age, or within five years after the burial of a child under twelve years of age, except for the purpose of burying another member of the same family, in which case a layer of earth not less than one foot thick shall be left undisturbed above the previously buried coffin; but if on re-opening any grave, the soil is found offensive, such soil shall not be disturbed, and the grave shall be at once closed up."
Can I purchase a plot if my family does not already have one?
Yes a family can purchase a cemetery plot and the cost varies according to the Municipal/Regional Corporation that governs it. Your loved one must be buried in the grave site and three (3) months thereafter, you can apply to purchase. However, some cemeteries do not allow purchases for various reasons such as limited availability within a District. In a case such as this, plots can be re-used every seven (7) years in accordance with the Act.
Can my loved one be buried in a District/Municipal cemetery other than where they resided?
Most cemeteries allow persons who lived outside of the district to be buried in them, as long as a family member or associate who owns a plot has agreed to allow the grave site to be used
How long after a death must an individual be buried?
There is no law that restricts the length of time between death and burial. However, the condition of the body may play a critical part in how soon after death the funeral should take place. Other Considerations that will affect timeline include the need to secure all permits and authorizations, notification of family and friends, preparation of cemetery site, religious practices or the possibility of post-mortem or forensic investigative procedures.
Does a body have to be embalmed before it is buried?
No. Embalming is a choice which depends on several factors such as:
- The timeline between viewing of the dressed body and the funeral service
- Preservation of the body due to an extended time between death and interment
- Public health laws require embalming if the body is to be sent abroad
What options are available besides ground burial?
Besides ground burial, some cemeteries offer interment in lawn crypts or entombment in mausoleums. Additionally, some cemeteries provide choices for those who have selected cremation which include placement of cremated remains in a niche of a columbarium or interment in an urn space.