North Dakota

Arranging a Funeral or Cremation in North Dakota

With the average traditional funeral in North Dakota costing around $9,000*, and that’s before a cemetery plot & grave marker are added to the total bill, it’s not hard to see why more and more families in North Dakota are looking at cremation as an alternative. 

Cremation is not only significantly less expensive, but it also allows families much more flexibility in planning a memorial service.  Unlike the traditional funeral burial, where everything must be planned and arranged in a very short time, a cremation can happen immediately after the death. 

Direct Cremation is the least expensive type of cremation. However, you’ll find many funeral homes reluctant to want to talk about this as an option.  With a direct cremation, the funeral director chosen is responsible for:

  • collecting the body from the place of death
  • storage of the deceased prior to the cremation
  • filing the legal paperwork
  • taking the body to the crematory for cremation
  • returning the ashes to family or next of kin 

How to Choose a Funeral Service Provider in North Dakota

Choosing the right funeral home is an important decision. Their role is to guide you through the funeral arrangements and provide support during this difficult time. Here are some things to consider to help you select a funeral home:

Find a Funeral Home or Crematory in North Dakota – Directory of Locations

Recommendations: Consider referrals and positive reviews from others who have used their services. Ask for recommendations from friends, family, or even clergy members who may have experience with funeral arrangements.

Location: The location of the funeral home, if you are holding a service or you have a specific burial or cremation site in mind. This will be more convenient for you and your family. If you do not plan to hold a service or are choosing a direct cremation, then the location may not be as important.

Services Provided: Do you know what kind of funeral or cremation service you wish to arrange? And any ancillary services you may require – such as purchasing a casket or urn, flowers, and other tribute products.

This will give you a better idea of what range of services you need from the funeral home. Some funeral homes offer a variety of options, such as traditional funerals, memorial services, or direct cremation. Others may offer a more limited range of services.

Cultural and religious considerations: If you have specific cultural or religious requirements for the funeral service, look for a funeral home that understands and respects those customs. They should have experience in handling ceremonies that align with your beliefs.

Facilities: If you plan to hold a funeral or memorial service, you may need to assess their facilities. You can visit the funeral home in person or check out their website. Consider factors such as the size and ambiance of viewing rooms, chapels, reception areas, access, and parking. Ensure they can accommodate the number of guests you expect.

Pricing and transparency: Funeral costs can vary, so it’s important to inquire about pricing and payment options upfront. A reputable funeral home should be transparent about its pricing structure and provide you with a detailed breakdown of costs.

Remember, it’s okay to consider multiple funeral homes and ask questions before making your decision. Do not feel rushed. Especially if your loved one is in the shelter of a hospital, hospice, or nursing home.  Take your time to choose a funeral home that aligns with your requirements and provides the support you need during this difficult time.

Understanding Funeral & Cremation Service Prices in North Dakota

Funeral prices do vary depending on various factors such as the location, type of service, and personal preferences of the family. Let’s take a look at what you can expect as a guide to average costs.

Average Cost of a Funeral Service in North Dakota

The average price for a traditional funeral in North Dakota is $8,868* (according to online funeral price comparisons). This typically includes services such as embalming, a casket, funeral home services, transportation, and other related expenses. However, it’s important to note that this cost doesn’t include additional expenses like cemetery plots, headstones, or flowers. Of course, a traditional funeral can cost more than this or can be conducted for between $6,000 to $7,000 by selecting an affordable funeral service provider.

Average Cost of a Cremation Service in North Dakota

The average cost of a cremation service will vary depending largely on the type of cremation service – Direct Cremation, Cremation Memorial, or Full-Service Cremation Funeral. In addition, prices offered by different funeral homes may differ for their service packages.

The average costs can range from $3,000 – $9,000 for cremation services with some kind of visitation or ceremony. However, direct cremation can conducted for around $1,650 in Fargo and $2,395 in Bismarck, ND.

The price for a direct cremation in ND is above the average cost in many other states and cities, but the same is true of other less populated, rural states.

Why Direct Cremation?

If you’re looking for a more affordable option, direct cremation can be an alternative. The cost of a direct cremation in North Dakota ranges from $1,650 to $2,850. Depending on the location and provider selected. Direct cremation skips the traditional funeral service and focuses solely on the cremation process.

Keep in mind that if you choose direct cremation, you can still hold a memorial service separately if desired.  Choosing direct cremation keeps funeral costs down for the surviving family and allows them to consider hosting their own memorial tribute when they are ready and wherever they choose.

Preplanning a Funeral or Cremation in North Dakota

Preplanning a funeral or cremation can be a considerate way to ensure that your wishes are known and carried out when the time comes. It allows you to make decisions ahead of time, relieving your loved ones of the burden of making difficult choices during an emotional period.

Making arrangements in advance can also help alleviate financial concerns for your loved ones. You can explore different options and determine a budget that suits your needs. This allows you to consider costs and make financial arrangements, such as setting aside funds or purchasing funeral insurance, to ease the financial burden on your family later on.

Pre-arranging also gives you the opportunity to personalize and customize your funeral according to your wishes. You can specify the type of service, location, music, readings, and other elements that hold significance to you. This way, you can have a service that truly reflects your life and values.  Preplanning a funeral offers peace of mind to both you and your loved ones.

In North Dakota, funeral legislation dictates that 100% of any monies paid to a funeral home for a preneed funeral contract must go into a fund in your name until the time of need. This is to ensure your funeral plan is protected for the future. It is common to fund a pre-need agreement with an insurance product.  A funeral home will usually assist you with setting up the required documentation and insurance policy.

If you are making a funeral plan and applying for Medicaid, you will need a fund, an irrevocable designation, and an itemized funeral contract. Medicaid allows you to have this designated fund set aside for funeral expenses, and it can be any amount. However, as it is an irrevocable fund, any monies not used for funeral expenses at the time of passing are returned to the state.

Understanding Funeral Laws in North Dakota State: Your Rights as a Funeral Consumer

Arranging a funeral in North Dakota State is subject to various laws and regulations. Some important laws that affect funeral arrangements in North Dakota include:

1. Funeral Director Licensing: Funeral directors in North Dakota must be licensed by the North Dakota State Board of Funeral Service. They are responsible for overseeing the licensed practice of funeral homes, including embalming, cremation, and transportation of the deceased, and protecting the public. The Board can be reached at:

P.O. Box 161, Rugby, ND 58368  Phone (701)776-6222

2. Funeral Home Requirements: Funeral homes in North Dakota must meet specific standards and regulations set by the state. This includes maintaining proper facilities, equipment, and records, as well as following guidelines for handling bodies, embalming, and cremation.

3. Transportation of the Deceased: The transportation of human remains within North Dakota is regulated by the state. Funeral homes must comply with specific requirements for the transportation of the deceased, including obtaining necessary permits and adhering to health and safety guidelines.

4. Cremation Regulations: If you opt for cremation, North Dakota imposes regulations to ensure proper handling and documentation. These regulations include obtaining authorization for cremation, proper identification of the deceased, and following specific procedures for the cremation process.

5. Death Certificates: The funeral director will usually file for the death certificate for you and ask you how many copies you require. You must have at least one copy, but it is generally advisable to have several copies in order to close down the deceased’s estate.  The death certificate should be filed with the state registrar within 72 hours after the death.

Death certificates cost $15.00 and $10.00 for any additional copies ordered at the same time.  You can order extra copies yourself from Vital Records North Dakota Health & Human Services online, in person, or by mail.  Phone (701) 328-2360

You will need a photo ID to request additional copies and prove your relationship to the deceased.

6. Federal Legislation: The FTC Funeral Rule dictates certain criteria that funeral businesses must adhere to. A funeral home must have a General Price List (GPL) that clearly defines its services and costs. Embalming is not legally required unless there are certain exceptional conditions relating to public health and transportation of the deceased.  According to the Funeral Rule, a consumer has the right to purchase a casket from a third-party seller. The funeral home must accept it and cannot charge a surcharge fee.

7. Embalming Laws: There is no law stipulating that a deceased person must be embalmed in ND. However, if the deceased needs to be transported and it will take more than 48 hours, embalming is required.

You should consult with a licensed funeral director or the North Dakota State Board of Funeral Service for the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding funeral laws and regulations in the state.

Who is legally responsible for making funeral arrangements?

The legal next of kin is generally the person, or persons, who is responsible for making arrangements if the deceased had no preneed funeral plan.  This also means the person making arrangements and signing the funeral contract is legally accountable for the payment of funeral expenses.  In the case of siblings, there can be several family members involved in making decisions. Although, this can sometimes cause dispute or confusion with regard to decisions being made.

Conducting a Home Funeral: Family-directed, D.I.Y Funeral, or Direct Cremation

It is legal in North Dakota to bury on your own land or private land with the consent of the landowner.  North Dakota is a rural state where many traditions still remain, such as home burials.  For a home burial on private land, you do need to obtain a disposition transit permit from the local clerk or Department of Health.  The intended home burial plot must be surveyed, a map drawn up, and a record must be submitted to the registrar of vital records indicating the location of the burial. This information should also be lodged with the property deed.

You do not need to employ the services of a funeral director for a home burial. There is no legal requirement for embalming if you decide on a home funeral, but you must ensure that the deceased is buried or cremated within a reasonable time after death. You would, however, need to file for the death certificate and obtain the necessary final disposition permit from the County town clerk.

So, whether you wish to conduct a home funeral, burial on private property in a family plot, or arrange to have a direct cremation disposition, you have options available to you.

Options for Memorialization in North Dakota State

Personalization is a key aspect of paying tribute to a loved one who has passed. There are various options for memorialization following a funeral or cremation service. We have listed below some of the main options:

Cemetery Plots in North Dakota  

You can choose to inter remains in a cemetery plot, whether for full body burial or the interment of cremated remains. A grave memorial marker can be erected in tribute to your loved one. However, typically, cemeteries require a waiting period before installing a headstone to allow the ground to settle. You should carefully check any cemetery bylaws.  Do note that in addition to the plot fee, there is a charge to open and close the plot for burial. This varies by cemetery.

Do ensure you check the cemetery regulations for perpetual care and maintenance.

Cremated Remains Options

North Dakota State does not have any specific laws governing the disposal of cremated remains.  You can:

  • Inter in a plot or niche: As mentioned above, cremated remains can be interred for burial. Generally, this should cost less than a full cemetery plot, or several family members’ cremated remains can be interred in one plot. More cemeteries in North Dakota are adding cremation columbariums to cater to the need for a space to memorialize cremated remains at a more affordable cost.
  • Keep the urn at home or in a special place: Some families prefer to keep their loved one’s remains close by and choose to keep the urn at home.  Or may opt to create a dedicated memorial in a special place to the deceased.
  • Scatter the cremated remains: Ash scattering has become a popular choice for families and can be meaningful and symbolic. The act of dispersing the cremated remains back to nature can be viewed as a ‘release’, a way of saying goodbye and enabling a loved one to be united in the elements of our planet in eternity.

You should follow any guidelines that restrict the dispersal of cremated remains on National Park land, public land, or water, and use a biodegradable container or follow safe release practices. 

We cover this in detail in our Guide to Scattering Cremated Remains.

  • Create a cremation artifact: Choosing to have a cremation memento made from the cremation ashes is another way that a family can keep their loved one close by.  There are a whole array of cremation artifact products available today.  Such as cremation jewelry, glass art, and garden ornaments.
  • Cremation Urns:  Selecting a cremation urn that is befitting for your loved one, unique, and personalized is important to many families.  Your funeral home may offer a selection of urns, and you can also buy affordable cremation urns online today.  With prices starting at around $80.00 for an adult brass urn.
  • Online Memorials: Creating an online memorial is a great way to make a lasting legacy and be able to share and remember. Some funeral homes offer an online memorial page as part of their service package.  There are also numerous dedicated online memorial websites offering this service today.

What if the deceased is at the Coroner?

The majority of deaths occur within a hospital or care environment. But sudden or unexpected deaths fall under the jurisdiction of the County Coroner to investigate and initially collect the deceased. In this case, you will still need to make arrangements with a funeral home to collect your loved one once the body is released.

Once the Medical Examiner releases the body, the funeral director will transfer your loved one into their care.  You may need to visit the Medical Examiner’s office to identify the deceased. Usually, funeral homes have a good relationship with their County ME and can arrange to process all the paperwork at the same time as collecting the deceased into their care. This can often expedite the process, and some funeral homes can offer a discounted cremation service for a Medical Examiner case.

The State Forensic Examiner’s Office, located in Bismarck, provides support to the County Coroners in ND.

Dealing With Hospice Care & Preparing for an Imminent Death

If your loved one is in hospice care in North Dakota and the support staff has advised you to prepare for his or her passing, it can help to have provisional arrangements in place.  This way when the time comes, the hospice can immediately contact the funeral service provider and arrange the transfer of your loved one into their care. 

If you contact a funeral home ahead of time, you can have some of the preparation and paperwork in place, and this will alleviate some of the stress that comes with having to make arrangements on short notice. This also means the hospice knows who to call, and the authorizations and other legal documentation can be pre-prepared.

Donating a Body to Science in North Dakota State: No Cost Cremation

Donating your body to medical science has been an end-of-life choice for some time now. However, it has certainly gained more popularity in recent times. For many, it now seems a valuable disposition method hence why it is commonly referred to as an “anatomical gift.”

There are several national organizations that offer an anatomical gift program whereby you can donate your body to science and the benefit of future generations. They arrange the collection of the deceased, medical donation, cremation of remains, and return of cremains to the family, usually at no charge.

The University of North Dakota (UND SMHS) has a “Deeded Body” donation program overseen by the ND Uniform Anatomical Gift Act.  Use this link to read more about the program and how to bequeath. Note: some costs are borne by the family for transportation and funeral home services.

Do understand that an anatomical donation cannot always be accepted at the time of death. It is determined by the needs of medical and research institutions at the time and transportation services.  You should consider having a ‘reserve’ plan for a direct cremation if a donation is not accepted. 

Read more on our Guide to Body Donation.

Is there any financial assistance to help families with funeral expenses in North Dakota?

The state does not provide assistance for funeral or cremation costs. We have briefly detailed below any Federal, County, or city of residence programs that may offer help to North Dakotans.

Federal Resources: Social Security pays a $255 lump-sum death benefit if qualifying, and certain veteran’s benefits are available.  The U.S. Department of the Interior Indian Affairs offers Financial Assistance and Social Services (FASS) assistance to Native Americans and Alaska Natives.  Their Burial Assistance program provides funds to assist with burial expenses of deceased indigent Indians whose estates do not have sufficient resources to meet funeral expenses. Visit their website to learn more.

County/Municipality Resources:  Each County manages a budget for indigent burial expenses in accordance with Section 23-06-03 of the North Dakota Century Code, as well as the GA Burial Policy.  You should contact your County Human Service Zone to find if any local provision is available to needy families.  Listed below are some details on known economic assistance for funeral expenses by County.

Burleigh County: Maximum amount paid $2,100 direct to the funeral home. Relatives have 5 days to submit an application after the death, and it will be screened for eligibility within 48-hours.

Cass County: Application for Burial Assistance.

Mercer County: Reimburses up to $4,500.

Morton County: Reimburses up to $2,100.

Sheridan County: Reimburses up to $1,950.

Note: County Budgets are constantly reviewed and updated. Please check with your County for up-to-date information.

Military Personnel: There are burial allowances from the ND Department of Veterans Affairs, who can be reached at (701) 239-7165.   Burial in the Veteran’s Cemetery in Mandan is free, and a $700 plot allowance may be available for interment in a private cemetery.  The American Red Cross may also offer some financial assistance for Military Families.  Phone (877) 272-7337.

Other Resources: The Tears Foundation serves North Dakota with the Charlie and Braden Project for families who have lost a child under one year old. Application Form.

The U.S. Department of Interior Indian Affairs provides assistance through FASS to Native Americans for burial and funeral help.  Phone (602) 379-6600.

When you need to repatriate a loved one to or from North Dakota

If a loved one dies away from his/her home in North Dakota, you may wish to arrange to have the body collected and returned to North Dakota for a funeral service. You will need the services of a funeral professional specializing in funeral shipping.

Visit our Funeral Shipping Guide for detailed information about funeral transportation.

If you travel regularly, you should consider purchasing a Travel Protection Plan. This peace of mind plan costs just $450 for lifetime cover and protects you and your family from unnecessary expenses and stress if a death should happen while away from your U.S. residence.

Funeral transportation cover

What Options are there for a Green Funeral in North Dakota?

There are green death care alternatives in North Dakota. You can choose to have a green funeral or natural burial or even make a cremation more eco-friendly by opting for a biodegradable urn and planting a memorial tree.  You can make a funeral more eco-conscious by not having embalming and choosing a natural coffin and a green burial plot. 

Some cemeteries in North Dakota have designated green burial divisions, even if they are a traditional cemetery. These are what are known as ‘hybrid’ green cemeteries.  Also, as mentioned above, conducting a home burial in North Dakota can facilitate a natural, family-led funeral service.

Have a Complaint or Concern about a Funeral Service Provider in North Dakota?

If you are dissatisfied with a funeral or cremation service provider in North Dakota, it is important to notify the correct licensing and legal authorities. This way, any necessary action can be taken, and other consumers can be protected.  We have detailed below some steps you can take to make a formal complaint.

Gather the details: Ensure you have all the necessary details about the funeral home or crematory, such as their name, address, and contact information. Additionally, note down the specifics of your complaint and any supporting documentation you may have.

Contact the funeral director: Start by contacting the funeral home or crematory directly. Explain your concerns and see if they can address and resolve the issue to your satisfaction. If you are not satisfied with their response, then you should make your complaint in writing to the North Dakota Board of Funeral Service.

How to File a Complaint with the Board: The North Dakota State Board of Funeral Service is responsible for taking the appropriate action for any unprofessional, incompetent, or unlawful practice by a licensed funeral professional.  You can contact them for guidance on how to proceed.

P.O. Box 161, Rugby, ND, 58368. Phone (701) 776-6222

The Board can only proceed with action if it finds sufficient evidence that the funeral director has violated Public Health Law in implementing funeral/cremation regulations. If the complaint concerns a dispute regarding fees, note that the Board has no jurisdiction over the fee amount charged, only the mandated disclosure of the fee, as per the FTC Funeral Rule.

If your complaint is regarding fees charged or any other consumer issue,  you may wish to make a formal complaint to the Federal Trade Commission.  You can file a complaint with the FTC online or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357).  The FTC cannot resolve individual problems for consumers, but it can act against a funeral/cremation company if it sees a pattern of law violations.

Submit a complaint to the North Dakota Attorney General: Another option is to file a consumer complaint with the North Dakota Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection. You can submit a complaint online here.

Office of Attorney General, Consumer Protection, 600 E. Boulevard Ave, Dept.125, Bismarck, ND, 58505  Phone (701) 328-2210

Obtain legal advice: If the issue remains unresolved, or you feel further action should be taken, you may want to consider consulting an attorney who specializes in funeral law or consumer protection. They can provide you with legal guidance and help explore your options for further action.

If you have further questions about arranging a funeral or cremation in North Dakota, feel free to contact us, as we are here to help guide you. 

*Funeralocity: Average Traditional Full Service Burial in North Dakota $8,868

Written by

Sara is the Editor in Chief for US Funerals Online and has been researching and writing about the death care industry in the US for the last 15 years.