Can I Get Permission

October 6, 2006

I would like to be buried in my beloved farm. Could you please help me out with some information? The Municipality of Aguirre (on the country’s central Pacific coast), the Public Health Ministry and the Catholic Church in (the central Pacific city of) Quepos were unable to provide any advice on the matter.Your help would be gratefully appreciated.

Alexander Myerscough-Walker

Quepos

In Costa Rica, it’s nearly impossible to be buried outside an official cemetery. However, no impediment exists to building a private cemetery on your property as long as it meets a set of legal requirements.

Although Costa Rican law does not ban burials outside official cemeteries, the government authority in charge of overseeing these procedures says it will not authorize them.

The General Regulation for Cemeteries, published in the official government newspaper La Gaceta Dec. 19, 2005, states that burials are allowed only in authorized cemeteries except in the case of corpses whose burial the Public Health Ministry has authorized elsewhere.

Willy Carrillo, director of the ministry’s Health Vigilance Department, the unit in charge of authorizing these burials, said the ministry does not authorize them except in the case of priests being buried in niches inside a church or when there is difficulty taking the corpse to an authorized cemetery because it is too far away.

If this is the case, the corpse is expected to eventually be exhumed and transferred to a cemetery, Carrillo told The Tico Times.

Carrillo said the ministry will not authorize burials outside cemeteries for any other reasons, such as romanticized last wishes.

“Imagine the social disorder it would create to have people buried wherever they choose,” he told The Tico Times.

According to Carrillo, burials cannot be allowed under such circumstances for health reasons. The same applies for cremations and spreading of ashes, which entails “the spreading of toxic agents.”

According to legal experts consulted by The Tico Times, you could build a private cemetery on your property if you meet a set of legal criteria.

The requirements, which include permits from health authorities and land-use permits from your local municipality or the National Institute for Housing and Urban Development (INVU), are listed in detail in the General Regulation for Cemeteries.

The regulation also outlines required minimum dimensions for the cemetery and gravesites, and other requirements.

The document can be obtained online in Spanish at www.imprenal.go.cr by searching for the Dec. 19, 2005 issue of La Gaceta in the online archives.

If you choose this route, we recommend you contact a lawyer to assist in the legal proceedings.

 

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