Germans Increasingly Send Their Deceased’s Ashes To Switzerland To Get Around Burial-Law Red Tape

Undertakers have revealed that the number of Germans asking for their deceased loved ones’ ashes to be sent to Switzerland has dramatically increased in the past 10 years.

Swiss funeral homes said they are increasingly performing tasks for bereaved families from Germany due to a burial law known as the “Friedhofszwang” – or cemetery obligation.

The 200-year-old rule, which was originally passed to prevent outbreaks of diseases, bans coffins and urns from being buried anywhere other than a cemetery.

However, burial in open salt water at sea is offered as an alternative in cases of cremation, while natural burials under trees or in lakes are strictly prohibited.

Image shows undertaker Berto Biaggi, undated photo. He owns a burial service company in the municipality of Gipf-Oberfrick, canton of Aargau, Switzerland. (Newsflash)

But despite some German states having tweaked the law slightly, keeping an urn at home remains forbidden, according to local media.

Additionally, families do not receive the urn after the cremation is carried out, but it is reportedly handed over directly to the cemetery’s management.

Undertaker Berto Biaggi from the municipality of Gipf-Oberfrick, in the canton of Aargau, Switzerland explained that his country’s rules are a bit looser.

Biaggi revealed that he is often hired by families to request urns with the ashes of the deceased from his fellow colleagues in Germany.

The urns are then reportedly given to the family in Switzerland, after they arrive in the country by post.

Revealing more about the trend he said: “It has increased over the past 10 years.

“The burial in Switzerland is legally complete with the cremation. The state doesn’t care what happens to the ashes afterwards.”

Image shows the municipality of Gipf-Oberfrick, canton of Aargau, Switzerland, where undertaker Berto Biaggi owns a burial service company, undated photo. Swiss undertakers say a rising number of Germans are asking for their deceased loved ones’ ashes to be sent to Switzerland (Newsflash)

He explained that the service costs about CHF 200 (GBP 179) and added: “I hand them over with a flower – and that’s it.

“What the relatives do with the urn is largely beyond my knowledge. I’m not there when they bury them in Switzerland.”

Many of the families are suspected of taking their urns back to Germany.

The Association of Swiss Funeral Services and the Swiss Post Office did not disclose how often German families use the services of Swiss undertakers.

But according to the German General Customs Directorate, urns have to be declared when they are re-imported into Germany.

However, the practice bears no costs due to a tax exemption.

And customs officials reportedly said that they will not prevent people with their cremated loved ones from entering the country, as the enforcement of the cemetery obligation depends on the federal state.


To find out more about the author, editor or agency that supplied this story – please click below.
Story By: Georgina JadikovskaSub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency:  Newsflash

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