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Should Requirements for a Funeral Director License Be the Same for Each State?

Article originally posted on:  Middletown Journal
Currently, if an out-of-state family seeks funeral services in Ohio, they might have to pay extra fees or have services delayed because their local funeral director, without an Ohio license, would need assistance from an Ohio funeral director.
Read the article below about the bill headed to the Ohio Senate and please share your thoughts on “Should Requirements for a Funeral Director License Be the Same for Each State? “

A bill headed to the Ohio Senate is designed to make it easier for bordering out-of-state funeral directors to perform funeral services in the state.

Currently, if an out-of-state family seeks funeral services in Ohio, they might have to pay extra fees or have services delayed because their local funeral director, without an Ohio license, would need assistance from an Ohio funeral director.

House Bill 481, which is sponsored by State Rep. Bob Hackett, R-London, and unanimously passed by the Ohio House of Representatives last week, would allow out-of-state funeral directors to be issued courtesy cards that would allow them to perform duties in Ohio, such as prepare and complete certain sections of a death certificate and other permits needed for the disposition of a body.

“This would expedite the process for the families,” said Vanessa Niekamp, executive director for the Ohio Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors.

The bill also would authorize out-of-state funeral directors without an Ohio license to work with licensed funeral directors during a declared disaster or emergency.

This bill would have come in handy in 1977 when Thomas A. Routsong, president and CEO of Routsong Funeral Home & Cremation Services, and other members of the Montgomery County’s Mortuary Response Team were asked to go to Southgate, Ky., to help with funeral services and identify the dead after the Beverly Hills Supper Club disaster.

The nightclub was located across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. A fire killed 165 people, including more than 50 from the Miami Valley. At the time, Routsong and other Ohio funeral directors did not have licenses to perform funeral services in Kentucky, but were allowed to help in light of the dire circumstances.

“This new law allows a legal cooperative effort from state to state in the event that somebody has a mass fatality or pandemic situation that comes up,” Routsong said of what would happen if the bill passed.

Kentucky and Indiana have passed similar legislation, according to Stephen Gehlert, executive director of the Ohio Funeral Directors Association. The OFDA proposed the legislation.

“Our members can’t (operate) in these states until Ohio has this law,” Gehlert said.

Another provision of the bill would allow embalmers and funeral directors to place their licenses on inactive status for two years. It also would eliminate additional costs that funeral directors and embalmers currently have to pay to get their licenses reinstated.

The state bill would affect 1,174 funeral homes and more than 3,000 funeral professionals, according to the state board.


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  • Plasdopake25

    It would be nice if the States got together and standardized, but Funeral Directors can’t agree in their own States let alone with other States. The National Board exam was a start that still hasn’t been accepted by all. We can only hope.

  • Btrinity1

    If you have a license that allows you to drive a car in Louisiana, you can drive that same car in Ohio.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that Louisiana and Ohio have the same driving laws.  I do agree that licensing requirements should be standardized as well as continuing education requirements.  We have a National Board Exam, why not a National License?

    • Princessofdarknessinred

      Who needs even MORE regulations than we already have? It doesn’t seem to me there is any problem here, large OR small, that needs Federal oversight. As you say in the first part of your comment, your driver’s license works fine.

  • Charles B

    An interesting article. It’s good to see that Ohio is making
    changes to allow for out of state funeral directors to cross borders.

    Having a National license does not seem practical – how can
    a funeral director be knowledgeable with the laws of all 50 states and the
    District of Columbia?  For the most part,
    a large percentage of funerals take place within the same state and are not
    subject to “Interstate Commerce” issues.  Another topic which is a separate discussion would
    deal with states’ rights and sovereignty.  Let’s not go there today.

    Some states have reciprocity agreements to allow for out of
    state funeral directors to supervise burials and some allow for a limited
    license to file death certificates. Each state seems to be different. And most
    of us have learned to deal within the existing boundaries.

    For the amount of deaths the funeral home I am with deals
    with out of state, we call one of a few trusted licenses we know out of state
    to take care of removals and death certificates. The cost to our client
    families is not that much and they understand the additional costs being passed
    on to them. We have not experienced any delays in getting burial permits which
    have caused us to delay a funeral, though getting death certificates takes a
    little time. If we wanted to we could have one of our funeral directors get an
    out of state license in a neighboring state but we feel it is not worth the
    effort or expense when it is very easy to call someone who is very familiar with
    their state’s laws and knows how to get permits and DCs with ease.

    Yes the National Board Exam is a great tool – but the NBE
    does not test any state laws, nor does any mortuary school teach all 51 sets of
    laws.  Nationalizing funeral licenses
    just may create a whole new bureaucracy on top of what each state already has,
    which will certainly increase the cost of licensing. I think it best to
    encourage each state to amend current statutes to allow for out of state
    directors to participate in burials and further look into cross-border issues.


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