Cemetery registration

The Regional State Administrative Agency for Eastern Finland takes care of all licensing, enforcement and cadastral responsibilities relating to the Finnish Funeral Services Act.

Advice and guidance

All cemetery properties must comply with the Finnish Funeral Services Act. This means, among other things, that their details must be entered into the Finnish Land Information System.

Cemetery registration

A cemetery cannot be established without the landowner’s permission. Cemetery operators also need to have 

  • title to the property,
  • a priority lease, or
  • other rights to the property.

The lease or other right must be for a fixed term of at least 130 and no more than 200 years. The lease must cover the entire property.

The property must be free of all liens and encumbrances within the meaning of the Funeral Services Act. Any restrictions on the use of the property must be entered into the land register.

If the details of a cemetery property in the Land Information System do not comply with the Funeral Services Act, we will contact the property manager to let them know about the omissions and how to remedy the situation. If you are a cemetery operator and you receive a letter from us, you need to contact the National Land Survey of Finland to have the details of your property updated.

We can order any of these operators that are found to be in violation of the applicable provisions to take corrective action or risk either being fined or having the authorities take action on their behalf. 

The Regional State Administrative Agency for Eastern Finland has the right to request any information that may be necessary for enforcement purposes from the authorities and operators of cemeteries, private burial grounds and crematoriums.

Expressing last wishes

We recommend that everyone records their last wishes to ensure that their wishes are honoured and to avoid conflicts or disagreements between those left behind.

The person responsible for funeral arrangements has a duty to respect the beliefs and wishes of the deceased concerning their burial or cremation and what to do with their ashes.

Advice and guidance

A person’s last wishes should specify, for example,

  • whether they wish to be buried or cremated,
  • where they would like to be buried, and
  • what their funeral should be like.

Any religious elements of the funeral service must be consistent with the beliefs of the deceased. Many religions have their own customs and requirements for funeral arrangements.

The wishes of the deceased are any preferences that the deceased person expressed before they died. Funeral arrangements should reflect the wishes and beliefs of the deceased as much as is possible within reason. 

The law excuses relatives from respecting wishes or choices based on the deceased’s beliefs that would be an unreasonable burden to honour for practical or financial reasons.

There are cases where a person dies without having expressed any wishes regarding who should arrange their funeral, whether they should be buried or cremated or what should be done with their ashes. In these cases, the responsibility for funeral arrangements can fall on

  • the deceased person’s widow or widower,
  • a person who was cohabiting (as if married) with the deceased at the time of their death, or
  • the closest heirs of the deceased.

If none of the above is willing to arrange a funeral, the job can be given to another person who was close to the deceased. The last resort is for the local authority in which the deceased resided to arrange their funeral.

Any disputes concerning funeral arrangements can be finally settled in court.

Links to legal texts