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Will Your State Change Its Mortuary Transport Services Laws and Regulations?

Posted: May 30, 2014

Maryland recently adopted regulations to implement its enacted Mortuary Transport Services Law (Health Occupations Article Section 7-101 and 7-601-7-607, Annotated Code of Maryland), which, among other things, requires operators of mortuary transport services to be permitted by the Maryland State Board of Morticians and Funeral Directors.

The Maryland law also requires that mortuary transporters who are employed by a mortuary transport service be registered with the Maryland State Board of Morticians and Funeral Directors. It sets fees for permits, registration and other items, establishes a renewal process and reinstatement process, establishes requirements for transport equipment, and establishes procedures that must be followed for transporting human remains including, but not limited to, prohibiting various acts and setting vehicle standards.

This law covers independent transport companies that are hired by Maryland funeral directors for transport and removal of human remains. Licensed funeral directors in Maryland who work as a licensed establishment in Maryland are exempt from coverage under the Mortuary Transport Services law. The reason, apparently, is that licensed funeral directors who work as a state-licensed establishment are already subject to the Maryland Morticians Act. Under the Morticians Act, Maryland funeral establishments and equipment, including vehicles, are inspected and licensed funeral directors are subject to laws and regulations governing professional conduct.

It is the Maryland state board's interpretation, however, that a funeral home, located in another state, such as Pennsylvania, would be considered a transporter, under the Maryland Mortuary Transport Services Law and regulations, if it transports to or removes human remains from Maryland, either for its out-of-state funeral establishment or for other out-of-state funeral homes. It would not matter if the out of state funeral director also held a Maryland professional license. As a transporter, it must have its vehicle equipment inspected by Maryland Board of Morticians.

Florida law regulates mortuary removal services under Title XXXIII, Chapter 497.385(1) Removal Services and Refrigeration Services, The law limits the reach of both the law and the regulations by specifically applying them only to the licensure of removal services, refrigeration services and centralized embalming facilities operating independently of funeral establishments, direct disposal establishments and incinerator facilities.

There is no indication in the laws and regulations adopted under it by the Florida Board of Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services that a funeral home in another state would be considered a transporter if it transports to or removes human remains from Florida, either for its out-of-state funeral establishment or for other out-of-state funeral homes.

There has been an indication that some other states have either adopted laws and regulations similar to those in to Maryland's or are considering doing so. If that occurs, and that state adopts an interpretation similar to Maryland's, it could prove costly to funeral homes whose establishment is on the border with the enacting state. Such a law and interpretation would encourage retaliatory legislation by contiguous states and could potentially increase the cost and difficulty to transport funeral remains due to multi-state transporter compliance requirements.

NFDA, on behalf of its members, is monitoring this situation, both as to the enactment of transport services laws and regulations. State Associations are encouraged to be alert to legislation of this type and to advise the NFDA when such legislation is proposed.