Rito Laico
Humanist ceremonies in Italy

Italian law on funerals and related matters

The legal situation in this matter is still rather confused and contorted.

In Italy, funerals and related matters are fundamentally regulated by national law number DPR 285/90, also known as the Mortuary Police Regulations (Italian: Regolamento della Polizia Mortuaria). Some parts of this statute have been superceded by later laws such as DPR 14/97, which governs the structural, technological and organisational aspects of cemeteries, and which even orders municipalities to institute “decorous Halls for the celebration of funerals” - something which has been more honoured in the breach than in the observance.


Cremation is governed by law Legge n.130 del 30 marzo 2001, “Disposizioni in materia di cremazione e dispersione delle ceneri”. This law decrees that authorisation for cremation shall be given by the Population Officer (ufficiale dello stato civile) in the town hall in all cases where the deceased was a member of a recognised Cremation Society. Where the deceased was a member of such an Association, cremation shall take place even in the presence of objections by next-of-kin. If the deceased was not a member of such an Association, then the next-of-kin may apply for permission. A list of So.Crems can be found here.

As for the scattering of ashes, this is only permitted in specially-defined areas within cemeteries, or on private land. It must take place in the open air, and with the permission of the land-owner. It may not be a commercial activity.

Furthermore, the 2001 law also established that the Minister for Health, in concert with Home Affairs Minister and the Minister for Justice, would proceed to revise the Mortuary Plice Regulations within a period of 6 months from the date the law was promulìgated. In 2003 the Council of Ministers lad a draft law before Parliament, which was to define the whole area of ‘funeral activities’ anew. This draft passed a first reading in the lower house, but had yet to pass in the senate when the legislature ended. No substantive changes have taken place since then.

In the regions

However, and to complicate matters still further, the reform of Section V of the Constitution gave to the Regions the possibility of emitting local laws in the matter of Mortuary Police, and some have done so.
Lombardy was the first, with Regional Law no. 22/2003 about cemeteries. In consequence, since then people in Lombardy are permitted to scatter cremation ashes “in nature” or to keep them at home.
Subsequently, some regions followed the Lombardy model, some followed in part and others didn’t at all. The result is that the legal situation varies markdly from one place to another.

The situation region by region