Post-death procedures in Singapore

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With an average life expectancy of around 83.1 years, Singapore is ranked 3rd in the world.[1] Given its limited land area and multicultural nature, post-death procedures in Singapore are slightly different compared to those in foreign countries.

Certificate of Cause of Death (CCOD)

The deceased’s family members will have to obtain the CCOD from a certified personnel before proceeding with the registration of death, which has to take place within 24 hours from the time of death. The steps to getting a CCOD differs, depending on the location of death.

Death in hospital

In the scenario that the cause of death is known, the attending doctor will fill up the CCOD which will then be handed over to the ward nurse. Family members can collect the CCOD from the ward nurse after showing the deceased’s identity card.


In the case of an unknown cause of death, the attending doctor will inform the police and arrange for the body to be sent to the [email protected] (Health Sciences Authority). The State Coroner, in consultation with the duty pathologist, will review the case and determine if an autopsy should be performed on the deceased.[2] The police will conduct further investigation if the autopsy report reveals that the death was unnatural.

Death at home

When a death has occurred at home, next of kin should contact the family doctor or any neighbourhood doctor who is willing to make a house call. If the cause of death is known, the doctor will issue the CCOD on the spot, if not, the police will be informed for the body to be sent to the [email protected] Family members of the deceased should call the police directly if there are no doctors available.

Registration of death

The law in Singapore requires all deaths to be registered within 24 hours of occurrence. Prior to registration, the family should decide whether the body will be cremated or buried, as this information is required when registering the death. The Death Certificate will be issued after the registration procedure.

Locations for registration

The family will have to register the death at either Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) or any Police Divisional Headquarters, Neighbourhood Police Centre or Neighbourhood Police Post. If the body is referred to [email protected], the death will be registered there.

Documents required

The documents required for the registration of death are as such:

  • Certificate of Cause of Death
  • Deceased identification documents
  • Informant’s identification documents

Funeral arrangements

Depending on religion, the funeral wake can be held at a funeral parlour, HDB void deck, or house for example. If the wake is held at a void deck, a permit will have to be obtained from the Town Council. For most Town Councils in Singapore, bookings and permits can be made in person or through a phone call. If the wake is held in a landed property and part of the road outside the house is needed, the family will require a permit from the Land Transport Authority (LTA).


A funeral director can be engaged by the family to assist them with funeral arrangements, according to different religious requirements. Special undertakers and embalmers will be required if the body is HIV-positive. The National Environment Agency of Singapore has complied a list of qualified undertakers and embalmers (NEA list).

Cremation

There are 2 private crematoria and 1 government-managed crematorium in Singapore. The Mandai Crematorium and Columbarium Complex, which is a government-managed crematorium, is the most common choice due to the affordable cost. The cremation fee for children below the age of 10 is SGD$50 while the cremation fee for adults is SGD$100.


Mandai Crematorium and Columbarium Complex

Address: 300 Mandai Road, Singapore 779393

Tel: 6554 5655

Opening Hours: 8AM - 5.30PM (Monday - Sunday)


Families can also choose to cremate their loved ones in one of the 2 private crematoria:

Private Crematoria Fees (SGD)
Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery


Address: 88 Bright Hill Road, Singapore 574117

Tel: 6849 5300

  • $300 (cremation only)
  • $400 (cremation + urn storage)
Tse Tho Aum Temple


Address: 601 Sin Ming Drive, Singapore 575719

Tel: 6454 7666

  • $400 (cremation only)
  • $500 (cremation + urn storage)

Burial

The Choa Chu Kang Cemetery Complex is the only cemetery in Singapore still open for burials.[3] Bookings for burial can be made over the phone or online (NEA booking portal). Payment has to be made before the actual burial. Next of kin may also choose to make the booking in person at the Choa Chu Kang cemetery office. Family members of the deceased have to produce the Death Certificate, Permit to Bury and identification documents of the next-of-kin or applicant.


Choa Chu Kang Cemetery Office

Address: 910 Choa Chu Kang Road, Singapore 699819

Tel: 6793 7428

Opening Hours: 8.30AM - 4.30AM (Monday - Friday), 8.30AM - 12.30PM (Saturday)

Sites Fees (SGD)
Choa Chu Kang Muslim/ Ahmadiyya Jama’at / Jewish / Parsi / Bahai Cemetery
  • $140 (child under 10 years old)
  • $315 (adult)
All other cemeteries at Choa Chu Kang Cemetery other than those listed above
  • $420 (child under 10 years old)
  • $940 (adult)

In 1998, the government announced that the burial period for all graves at Choa Chu Kang Cemetery Complex would be limited to 15 years, due to the shortage of land space. After the 15-year lease, graves will be exhumed and the remains are either cremated or re-buried in smaller individual plots.[4]

Columbaria

Cremated ashes will be stored in columbaria niches. Niches are available at 2 government-managed columbaria and private columbaria. The 2 government-managed columaria are Mandai Crematorium and Columbarium Complex and Choa Chu Kang Columbarium. Niches at government columbaria are allocated sequentially. There will be a SGD$250 selection fee if applicants decide to choose a different location from what was allocated. Booking of columbria niches can be done online via the NEA website (NEA booking portal).


A Standard niche at a columbria costs SGD$500 while a Family niche costs SGD$900.

Sea burial

Ashes of the deceased may also be scattered at sea. The Maritime Port Authority (MPA) has designated a site located 2.8 km south of Pulau Semakau where sea burial can be conducted. This can be done daily, from 7AM to 7PM.[5] Those who choose sea burial will have to rent a boat to get to the site. Next of kin may contact The MPA Port Safety Control Centre at 6325 2488 (Tel) to arrange the burial.


A new sea burial facility will be built along the shoreline in Tanah Merah by the fourth quarter of 2019. It will feature a boardwalk that extends into the sea to allow for a more convenient scattering of ashes. This facility will be open to everyone, regardless of race and religion.[6]

Estimated expenditure

The total cost of post death procedures in Singapore is subjective and differs across families. The breakdown of all the post-death procedures in Singapore are as follows:

Breakdown Average cost (SGD)
Private Autopsy ([email protected])[7] $5,863.60
Body Storage ([email protected]) $165.85 per day
Funeral (3 days)[8]
  • ~$5,900 (Christian)
  • ~$5,900 (Catholic)
  • ~$4,340 (Free-thinker)
  • ~$970 (Muslim)
  • ~$6,826 (Buddhist)
  • ~$7,230 (Taoist)
  • ~$5,690 (Soka)
  • ~$3,300 (Hindu)
Cremation $100 - $500
Storing of ashes $500 - $900
Burial $315 - $940
Sea Burial[9] $100 - $480

Obituary

An obituary may be placed in the local newspaper in memory of the deceased. Family members of the deceased may make an online booking via Singapore Press Holdings (SPH Booking Portal). The cost of each obituary per column ranges from SGD$15 to SGD$75, depending on the type and day of publication. A more comprehensive list can be found on the SPH website (SPH advertisement rates). A typical obituary includes the photo and name of the deceased, date of passing, names of family members and details of the wake and funeral.[10]

Post-death administrative matters

Family members are also reminded to complete the following administrative procedures after the death of a loved one.

Banks

The deceased’s bank has to be notified, especially for receipts and cheques deposited automatically – or if mortgage payments and other transactions, such as GIRO deductions, are carried out directly from the account.

Insurance Companies

Inform the insurance company if the deceased held any insurance policies. Family members will be informed if there are any payouts.[11]

Lawyer

In the presence of a will, the deceased’s lawyer will have to be informed. According to section 2A of the Estate Duty Act (EDA), inheritance tax is only applicable to persons who died before 15 February 2008.[12]

Bills

Any outstanding debts, such as credit card bills have to be cleared. For bills where payment is made automatically, inform the companies to cancel the GIRO. Where appropriate, contact the deceased's landlord, cancel utilities such as electricity and telephone connections.

CPF withdrawal

If the deceased had made a valid CPF nomination, the nominated beneficiary will receive the former’s CPF savings in accordance with the proportion stated in the nomination. If no nomination is made, all CPF savings will be forwarded to the Public Trustee for distribution in accordance with the intestacy laws or inheritance certificates (for Muslims) in Singapore.[13]

References / Citations

  1. “Singapore 3rd in the world for life expectancy: WHO report”. TODAYonline. May 18, 2017. Accessed on 28 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/singapore-3rd-world-life-expectancy-who-report
  2. “When death occurs.” National Environment Agency. August 24, 2018. Accessed on 28 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.nea.gov.sg/our-services/after-death/post-death-matters/when-death-occurs/in-a-hospital
  3. "Post Death Matters". National Environment Agency. Accessed on 5 March 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.nea.gov.sg/our-services/after-death/post-death-matters/burial-cremation-and-ash-storage
  4. “Choa Chu Kang Cemetery Exhumation Programme”. National Environment Agency. July 2, 2018. Accessed on 28 January 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.nea.gov.sg/our-services/after-death/choa-chu-kang-exhumation-programme
  5. “Arranging a Funeral”. National Environment Agency. May 7, 2018. Accessed on 28 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.nea.gov.sg/our-services/after-death/post-death-matters/arranging-a-funeral
  6. Shamdasani, Jasia. “New sea burial facility to be built alone Tanah Merah shoreline”. The new paper. April 6, 2018. Accessed on 28 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.tnp.sg/news/singapore/new-sea-burial-facility-be-built-along-tanah-merah-shoreline
  7. “Death procedures and all death expenses in Singapore 2018”. Singapore Legal Advice. November 26, 2018. Accessed on 28 January 2019. Retrieved from:  https://singaporelegaladvice.com/law-articles/death-registry-autopsy-funeral-expenses-singapore/
  8. Feng, Ming. “How much does it cost to hold a funeral service in Singapore?”. Seedly. August 14, 2018. Accessed on 28 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://blog.seedly.sg/cost-guide-funeral-services-singapore/
  9. Shamdasani, Jasia. “New sea burial facility to be built alone Tanah Merah shoreline”. The new paper. April 6, 2018. Accessed on 28 January 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.tnp.sg/news/singapore/new-sea-burial-facility-be-built-along-tanah-merah-shoreline
  10. “Placing an Obituary.” National Environment Agency. May 4, 2018. Accessed on 28 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.nea.gov.sg/our-services/after-death/post-death-matters/placing-an-obituary
  11. “Financial and Legal considerations”. Singapore Silver Pages. Accessed on 28 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.silverpages.sg/caregiving/Post-Death%20Matters
  12. “Is Inheritance Tax/ Estate Duty payable when you die in Singapore?”. Singapore Legal Advice. October 5, 2018. Accessed on 28 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://singaporelegaladvice.com/law-articles/inheritance-tax-estate-duty-singapore/
  13. “Useful links for the bereaved.” National Environment Agency. June 29, 2018. Accessed on 28 January 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.nea.gov.sg/our-services/after-death/post-death-matters/useful-links-for-the-bereaved