This is only a general summary of the information we believe those who have lost a loved one might need to know

This is only a general summary of the information we believe those, especially the non-religious, who have lost a loved one might need to know, and in no way substitutes for qualified legal advice where appropriate.

  • Death must be officially pronounced by someone in authority, usually a doctor, who will complete a form certifying the cause, time and place of death. This form can be used to arrange the disposition of the body.
  • If the deceased has agreed to donate their organs the responsible doctor will guide you on the necessary procedures before the body is released. (Note that, at May 2024, legislation is pending to assume opt-in to organ donation; if passed, it will need to be established whether the person concerned has opted out).
  • If the deceased has arranged to donate their body to either of the two medical schools in Malta, the next of kin will have details of whom to contact to arrange transfer to the school. Note that the bodies of organ donors can’t be accepted, so if the opt-out system for organ donation is implemented, it seems body donors would have had to opt out of organ donation. Read more here.
  • The initial form certifying death must be registered, in person or online, at a Public Registry office, and the deceased’s ID card must be returned to the Registry. The Registry will issue an Act of Death certificate as the legally-recognised proof that the person has died.

Funeral Arrangements

Post-Mortem Disposition

A body in Malta may be:

  • buried in a private grave (for which you would need proof of ownership, example presenting adequate family history);
  • buried in a public grave (around two years after which, the bones are gathered in an ossuary);
  • buried at sea; or
  • cremated abroad (cremation has been legal in Malta since May 2019 but, as of May 2024, Malta has no crematorium. Read more here.

All of which require the services of a funeral director.

Funeral Service

There is no legal requirement in Malta to hold a religious, or indeed any, funeral service.
People might use their will to express their wish to have a secular or humanist funeral, but a will in Malta is read long after they are buried. We therefore urge anyone who wants a non-religious funeral to make their views known. Some may choose to do this via a ‘Living Will’ (or ‘Advance Decision’); read more here, or a letter to their loved ones. Making their beliefs clear well in advance means that those close to them are not faced with difficult choices while mourning their loss – even though their next of kin can, if they choose, override these wishes.
For those who want a non-religious ceremony for loved-ones, Humanists Malta offers the services of its certified humanist celebrants, who create bespoke personalised ceremonies. You need not be a member of Humanists Malta to avail yourself of the service. Read more here.
Usually, Humanist burial ceremonies are carried out graveside but special permission may be sought from the health authorities for other locations of choice. Alternatively, a Humanist memorial service (where the body of the deceased is not present) may be carried out at any location, and this doesn’t require the permission of the health authorities.

Funeral Expenses

Where possible, funeral expenses are covered by the deceased’s estate. While their assets are frozen until a deed of Declaration Causa Mortis (dealing with inheritance from the estate) is registered by a Notary Public, an exception is made for funeral costs.

Non-Religious Chaplaincy Service

Humanists Malta provides a chaplaincy service for those who might be going through difficult moments. This could be useful both for someone approaching their end of life, or those bereaved. Read more here.

Agħti Donazzjoni jew Sir Membru