If the deceased has not made known his or her desire to be buried or cremated during his or her lifetime, it will be up to the family to make this decision. Below you will find information that can help you choose the burial method. Burial and cremation costs vary according to the municipal regulations that set their rates. Funeral homes or Separate Ways relieve families of all the formalities to be undertaken with the municipalities concerned.

Burial of the body

In Switzerland, a burial cannot take place anywhere but in a cemetery. There are two possibilities of burial :

Fall to the line

In most cases, burial is done in a pit dug “by line”. This means that the tombs follow one another through the burials, without any distinction and it is not possible to reserve a site. As a general rule, the line grave is free of charge for persons who were residents of the municipality to which the cemetery belongs. It cannot be renewed after the end of the burial period, which varies between 20 and 33 years, depending on the canton. Exhumation and re-interment in another grave is possible.

Concession agreement

It makes it possible to reserve a site and to ensure, for example, that a couple can be buried together. The concession is subject to a fee and renewable.

Different models of coffins are available from funeral homes. Some countries and cantons in Switzerland tend to offer ecological funerals, including biodegradable coffins.

Several months after the burial, relatives can permanently arrange the grave by choosing a funeral monument from a marble company. Cemetery fees and headstones often cost several thousand francs, which is why burial is a more expensive method of burial than cremation. It should also be noted that a grave requires some maintenance.


Currently, about 80% of the deceased in Switzerland are incinerated. Cremation takes place only in funeral centres approved by the authorities. In most cantons, it is possible to attend the cremation if the crematorium is informed in advance, but in Geneva, with some exceptions, neither the family nor relatives can attend. The body must be cremated in a coffin and the ashes placed in an urn chosen by the family, usually two days after the cremation. Funeral homes offer urns made of wood, clay or copper. It is also more and more common to obtain more original but also biodegradable models of urns.

Where to rest the ashes?

At the cemetery

In most cases, families choose to have the ashes of their loved ones scattered in a memorial garden. These are collective cellars, free anonymous spaces, without a plaque mentioning a name and a date. Moreover, with few exceptions, this place cannot be flourished. It is therefore important to ask yourself if this lack of material connection with the deceased is what you want.

A second possibility is to rest the ashes in a columbarium. These are walls with niches that can accommodate one or more urns. They are often sealed with a personalized marble plaque and the flowers are placed at the foot of the pigeonhole.

Still in a cemetery, the urn can be buried in a grave, whether it is already existing or new.

Outside a cemetery

at home or to disperse them or bury them in the wild. In this respect, there is no legal requirement in Switzerland as long as it is not on private property that does not belong to you. Relatives are free to dispense them in a garden, in the mountains (and which can be done from a helicopter), in a lake, a river, in the countryside, etc. according to their wishes or the wishes of the deceased. It is also possible to divide the ashes and rest them in several places. More expensive and eccentric, there is the possibility of dispersing the ashes in space.

Some people may also bury the ashes at the foot of a tree that can later house the ashes of other family members. Some companies also offer to transform the ashes into fireworks or diamonds.

The donation of the body to medicine

Anatomical institutes depend on citizens who are willing to donate their bodies for teaching and research. As with organ donations, it is a matter of filling out a form and keeping a card with you. The donor will have to choose between scientific or organ donation, the two not being compatible. The Faculty’s pathology department needs nine months to two years for its investigations. Once this is completed, the relatives will request cremation or burial. It is also possible to organize the ceremony with the presence of the body before it is given to science.

Separate Ways is at your disposal to help you in these steps.