2021 Georgia Code
Title 43 - Professions and Businesses
Chapter 18 - Funeral Directors and Establishments, Embalmers, and Crematories
Article 1 - Funeral Directors and Establishments, Embalmers, and Crematories
Part 1 - General Provisions
§ 43-18-1. Definitions

Universal Citation: GA Code § 43-18-1 (2021)

As used in this article, the term:

  1. "Alternative container" means any receptacle or enclosure which is of sufficient strength to be used to hold and to transport a dead human body.
  2. "Apprentice" means a person who practices embalming, funeral directing, or both,under the direct supervision of a funeral director, embalmer, or both, in this state.
  3. "Board" means the State Board of Funeral Service.
  4. "Casket" means a container which is designed for the encasement and viewing of a dead human body.
  5. "Cremation" means the reduction of the dead human body to residue by intense heat or any mechanical, chemical, thermal, or other professionally accepted process. Cremation also includes any other mechanical, chemical, thermal, or other professionally accepted process whereby human remains are pulverized, burned, recremated, or otherwise further reduced in size or quantity.

    (5.1) "Cremation device" means a retort, vat, or container in which dead human bodies are cremated by traditional flame, alkaline hydrolysis, or other means approved by the board.

  6. "Crematory" means any place where cremation is performed, other than a hospital, clinic, laboratory, or other facility authorized by the Department of Community Health for such purposes.
  7. "Direct supervision" means that the embalmer, funeral director, or both, are present overseeing the activities of the apprentice.
  8. "Embalmer" means a person who practices embalming or uses in connection with that person's name the words "embalmer," "licensed embalmer," "undertaker," or "mortician" or offers or holds himself or herself out as offering such services.
  9. "Final disposition" means the final disposal of a dead human body whether it is by, but not limited to, earth interment, above-ground interment, cremation, burial at sea, or delivery to a medical institution for lawful dissection if the medical institution assumes responsibility for disposal.
  10. "Funeral" or "funeral services" means the observances, services, or ceremonies held for dead human bodies and includes any service relating to the transportation, embalming, cremation, and interment of a dead human body.
  11. "Funeral director" means a person who practices funeral directing or uses in connection with that person's name or with a picture of that person the words "funeral director," "licensed funeral director," "undertaker," or "mortician" or offers or holds himself or herself out as offering such services.
  12. "Funeral director in full and continuous charge" means a funeral director who is approved by the board to assume full responsibility for the operations of a particular funeral establishment and who shall ensure that said establishment complies with this article and with all rules promulgated pursuant thereto.
  13. "Funeral establishment" means a place where embalming or funeral directing is practiced and which is open to the public and transacting business relating to funeral services.
  14. "Funeral merchandise" means the goods that may only be sold or offered for sale by a funeral director working in a funeral establishment and includes, but is not limited to, a casket or alternative container, but does not include an outer burial container or cemetery marker.
  15. "Funeral service contract" means a written or oral agreement between a funeral director or funeral establishment and a legally authorized person for the embalming, funeral, or final disposition of a dead human body.
  16. "Legally authorized person" means the deceased's surviving spouse, a son or daughter who is 18 years of age or older; the deceased's parent, a brother or sister who is 18 years of age or older; any other person who is 18 years of age or older and who is in the next degree of kinship to the deceased; the deceased's guardian or personal representative; or a public health officer.
  17. "Outer burial container" means an enclosure into which a casket is placed, including, but not limited to, a vault made of concrete, steel, fiberglass, or copper, a sectional concrete enclosure, a crypt, or a wooden enclosure.
  18. "Practice of embalming" means disinfecting or preserving or attempting to disinfect or preserve dead human bodies by replacing certain body fluids with preserving and disinfecting chemicals.
  19. "Practice of funeral directing" means making or directing, at need or preneed, arrangements for the preparation and transportation of dead human bodies for final disposition and the supervision and direction of all funeral services.
  20. "Retort" means a furnace where dead human bodies are cremated.
  21. "Soliciting" means the making of any uninvited contact with another person by a funeral director or by a funeral director's agent, assistant, employer, or employee for the purpose of the sale of funeral services or merchandise but shall not mean any advertising which is directed to the public in general.

(Code 1981, §43-18-1, enacted by Ga. L. 1990, p. 1372, § 1; Ga. L. 1992, p. 2762, § 1; Ga. L. 2002, p. 641, § 3; Ga. L. 2009, p. 453, § 1-4/HB 228; Ga. L. 2012, p. 625, § 3/HB 933; Ga. L. 2021, p. 342, § 1/HB 124.)

The 2021 amendment, effective May 4, 2021, added paragraph (5.1).

Code Commission notes.

- Pursuant to Code Section 28-9-5, in 1992, a period was substituted for a semicolon at the end of paragraph (18).

Law reviews.

- For note on the 2002 amendment of this Code section, see 19 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 200 (2002).


Cited in Smith v. Poteet, 127 Ga. App. 735, 195 S.E.2d 213 (1972); City of Atlanta v. Shrader, 185 Ga. App. 691, 365 S.E.2d 449 (1988).


Editor's notes.

- In light of the similarity of the statutory provisions, decisions under Ga. L. 1950, pp. 238 and 240 are included in the annotations for this Code section.

Jurisdiction to perform services on hair of deceased persons is shared between funeral directors and cosmetologists.

- Effect of 1966 amendments to the former Barbers' and Cosmetologists' Acts was to confer as between barbers and cosmetologists extra jurisdiction upon cosmetologists in regard to services performed upon hair of deceased persons; the extra jurisdiction conferred upon cosmetologists, however, is not absolute but must be considered as being shared with that of funeral directors. 1965-66 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 66-180 (decided under prior law).

Persons in business or profession of cremating dead human bodies are "funeral directors" and are engaged in "funeral directing" within the meaning of Ga. L. 1950, pp. 238, 240 (see now O.C.G.A. § 43-18-1). The places of business where persons engage in the business or profession of cremating dead human bodies are "funeral establishments". 1981 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 81-45.

Crematories are clearly subject to regulation under Ga. L. 1950, p. 238 et seq. (see now O.C.G.A. Ch. 18, T. 43). 1981 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 81-45.


Am. Jur. 2d.

- 38 Am. Jur. 2d., Funeral Directors and Embalmers, § 1 et seq.


- Liability of undertaker or funeral director for injury to passenger in vehicle furnished by former, 29 A.L.R. 827.

Construction and application of zoning regulations in connection with funeral homes, 92 A.L.R.3d 328.

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