Code of the District of Columbia

§ 3–405. Qualifications, applications, and examinations for licensure.

(a) Funeral director’s license. — Except as provided in subsections (b) and (c) of this section, an applicant for licensure as a funeral director shall furnish satisfactory proof to the Mayor that he or she:

(1) Is at least 18 years of age;

(2) Is a graduate of a high school or possesses the equivalent education as approved by the Mayor;

(3) Is a graduate of an accredited school or college of mortuary science whose course of instruction is not less than 12 months in duration or is composed of not less than 840 hours of study; or has successfully completed a 2-year course of study leading to an associate degree in mortuary science;

(4) Has had at least 2 years of practical experience as an apprentice funeral director if he or she is a graduate of a school or college of mortuary science, or at least 1 year of practical experience if he or she possesses an associate degree in mortuary science; has actually embalmed at least 25 human remains; and has actually conducted or directed at least 25 funerals. This experience shall be verified by the sworn affidavit of each funeral director under whose immediate supervision the apprentice funeral director’s duties were performed, indicating the number of human remains embalmed by the applicant and the number of funerals conducted or directed during the period of apprenticeship served under the supervision of the funeral director;

(5) Is fully acquainted with District and federal laws relating to the practice of funeral directing, in a manner to be determined by the Mayor;

(6) Has paid all required fees;

(7) Has passed a nationally approved examination; and

(8) Has met all additional requirements set by the Mayor.

(b) Special licensing. —

(1) Notwithstanding the requirements set forth in subsection (a) of this section, any funeral director licensed by the District as an undertaker on May 22, 1984, shall be qualified for licensure under this chapter upon meeting the qualifications in paragraphs (1), (5), and (6) of subsection (a) of this section.

(2) Any apprentice funeral director licensed by the District on May 22, 1984, and actively engaged in discharging the duties of a funeral director from January 1, 1973, through January 1, 1990, shall be qualified for licensure as a funeral director upon:

(A) Meeting the qualifications in paragraphs (1), (5), and (6) of subsection (a) of this section;

(B) Passing the nationally approved oral and practical examination; and

(C) Furnishing proof to the Mayor that he or she was discharging the duties of a funeral director during the specified period.

(3) Every person who on August 1, 1947, would have qualified for licensure under § 47-2843(c) [section repealed], and who has discharged the duties of a funeral director from January 1, 1973, through January 1, 1983, and continues to discharge those duties shall be qualified for licensure as a funeral director upon:

(A) Meeting the qualifications in paragraphs (1), (5), and (6) of subsection (a) of this section;

(B) Passing any oral and practical examination the Mayor may require to determine that the person is fully acquainted with District and federal laws relating to the practice of funeral directing; and

(C) Furnishing proof to the Mayor that he or she was discharging the duties of a funeral director during the specified period.

(4) Applicants to be licensed by paragraphs (2) and (3) of this subsection must comply with the requirements of this chapter within 2 years following the date on which the Mayor establishes the examinations required by paragraph (5) of this subsection.

(5) The Mayor shall, within 6 months of June 19, 1998, establish the necessary examinations to test individuals for licensure as funeral directors under paragraphs (2) and (3) of this subsection. The Mayor shall conduct these examinations at least twice during the 2-year period following the date these examinations are established.

(c) Reciprocity. — An applicant for a license by reciprocity to practice as a funeral director in the District must furnish proof to the Mayor that he or she:

(1) Is currently licensed in good standing as a funeral director in a state or territory of the United States wherein the requirements for licensure are substantially equal to or exceed those in effect in the District, and which state or territory admits funeral directors licensed by the District in a like manner; and

(2) Meets the qualifications specified in paragraphs (1), (2), (5), and (6) of subsection (a) of this section.

(d) Apprentice funeral director’s license. — An applicant for licensure as an apprentice funeral director must furnish proof satisfactory to the Mayor that he or she:

(1) Is at least 18 years of age;

(2) Is a graduate of a recognized high school or possesses the equivalent education as approved by the Mayor;

(3) Is fully acquainted with District and federal laws relating to the practice of funeral directing and embalming, in a manner to be determined by the Mayor;

(4) Has paid all required fees; and

(5) Has successfully completed or is enrolled in an accredited school or college of mortuary science, or has successfully completed or is enrolled in a 2-year course of study leading to an associate degree in mortuary science as required by paragraph (3) of subsection (a) of this section.

(e) Funeral services establishment license. —

(1) No funeral services establishment shall be operated in the District unless licensed as a funeral services establishment in accordance with subchapter I-A of Chapter 28 of Title 47.

(1A) Licenses issued under this subsection shall be issued as Public Health Funeral Establishment endorsement to a basic business license under the basic business license system as set forth in subchapter I-A of Chapter 28 of Title 47.

(2) No individual may be licensed to operate a funeral services establishment unless that individual is also licensed as a funeral director under this chapter.

(3) No corporation, partnership, or other business entity may be licensed to operate a funeral services establishment unless: (A) One of the owners of the funeral services establishment business is licensed as a funeral director under this chapter, and (B) the business entity designates a principal funeral director, licensed under this chapter, who will be responsible for the daily operation of the funeral services establishment. The Mayor shall issue rules and regulations pursuant to § 3-420 to ensure that the corporation, partnership, or other business entity comes into prompt compliance with this paragraph when death or termination of the business relationship removes the owner who is a licensed funeral director or the licensed funeral director responsible for the daily operation of the funeral services establishment.

(4) All funeral services establishments operated in the District shall be built, equipped, arranged, occupied, and maintained in compliance with all applicable District and federal laws.

(5) The Board shall provide the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and all facilities and agencies, as defined in § 44-501(c), with a list of all funeral services establishments and a list of funeral directors, apprentice funeral directors, and courtesy card holders authorized to receive human remains for care or preparation in accordance with this chapter. The list shall:

(A) Consist only of funeral services establishments licensed and operating in the District of Columbia pursuant to this subsection;

(B) Include the funeral services establishment license number; and

(C) Be updated annually.

(f) Surviving spouse license. —

(1) Upon the death of the funeral director licensed to operate the funeral services establishment, the Mayor may issue a funeral services establishment license to the funeral director’s surviving spouse or estate when the following conditions have been met:

(A) The surviving spouse or estate must notify the Mayor within 10 days of the death of the funeral director of the intent to continue operating the funeral services establishment, and must apply for a funeral services establishment license within 30 days of the death of the funeral director; and

(B) The surviving spouse or estate must identify a funeral director licensed by the District who will be responsible for the day-to-day operation of the funeral services establishment as required by this chapter.

(2) A surviving spouse shall qualify for a license pursuant to this subsection only as long as he or she remains unmarried, except that any surviving spouse presently operating a funeral services establishment on May 22, 1984, is grandfathered.

(3) An estate shall qualify for a license pursuant to this subsection for a period not to exceed 3 years from the date of the funeral director’s death.

(g) Application procedures for licenses. —

(1) Each applicant for a license shall file with the Mayor a complete and true application on a form approved by the Mayor.

(2) Each application for a funeral director’s and apprentice funeral director’s license shall be accompanied by a recent photograph of the applicant’s face, measuring approximately 1″ x 11/2″.

(3) Each application for a license pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection shall be sworn to before a notary public.

(4) The Mayor shall review and take action on all applications within a reasonable time after filing. An applicant for any license has the burden of proving compliance with the qualifications and requirements for obtaining the license desired. The Mayor may not presume qualifications and requirements not shown on the application. The Mayor may refuse to act on the application and may require the applicant to submit additional information if the application contains incomplete or evasive information.

(5) The Mayor may deny, after notice and opportunity for hearing, any application if: (A) The applicant has knowingly made or allowed to be made on his behalf any false or misleading statements in connection with his or her application, or (B) the applicant or an agent of the applicant has attempted to improperly influence any member of the Board or officer or employee of the District in the discharge of duties relating to the application.

(6) Each applicant for a funeral director’s license for which an examination is required shall make application to take the examination not later than 60 calendar days prior to the date of the examination.

(7) Procedures governing applications for a funeral director’s license, an apprentice funeral director’s license, a surviving spouse license, and a license to operate a funeral services establishment shall be prescribed in rules and regulations issued by the Mayor pursuant to § 3-420.

(h) Examination. —

(1) The Mayor shall conduct each year in the District at least 1 nationally approve[d] examination for licensure as a funeral director. The Mayor may schedule additional examinations he or she determines to be necessary. The Mayor shall fix the time and place for each examination.

(2) Except as provided in § 3-420, the funeral director’s license examination shall consist of the following 3 parts: (A) Written examination, (B) oral examination, and (C) practical demonstration.

(3) The Mayor may waive the written portion of the examination if an applicant for a funeral director’s license has previously passed the written portion of the nationally approved examination as defined by § 3-402(16).

(4)(A) The written portion of the funeral director’s license examination shall consist of questions relating to embalming, anatomy, pathology, bacteriology, chemistry, restorative art, and mortuary administration.

(B) The practical demonstration portion of the funeral director’s license examination shall consist of a demonstration by the applicant, in the presence of 2 or more members of the Board, of his or her knowledge and skill in the care, preparation, and preservation of human remains.

(C) The oral portion of the funeral director’s license examination shall consist of questions on District and federal laws and regulations governing the practice of funeral directing, including, but not limited to, the following subjects:

(i) Human tissue banks and anatomical gifts;

(ii) Vital statistics and containers for cremated human remains;

(iii) Trafficking in dead bodies;

(iv) Cemeteries and crematories;

(v) Licensing of funeral directors; and

(vi) Penalty provisions.

(5) The oral portion of the funeral director’s license examination shall be administered to an applicant in the presence of 2 or more members of the Board, at least 2 of whom shall be licensed funeral directors.

(6) The written portion of the examination for a funeral director’s license shall be administered to applicants in the presence of 1 or more members of the Board, or an employee of the District government designated by the Mayor.

(7) The examination shall be administered to applicants for a funeral director’s license in accordance with examination procedures established by the Mayor. Each applicant shall be fully advised of the examination procedures prior to the examination and a copy of the procedures shall be included in the notice of authorization to take the examination.

(8) The Mayor shall monitor the implementation of the nationally approved examination for a funeral director’s license to ensure that there are no anticompetitive or discriminatory effects. If the Mayor reasonably determines by rulemaking that the examination is producing anticompetitive or discriminatory effects, the Mayor shall develop a local examination and, after proper notice and publication, shall substitute it for the nationally approved examination.

(i)(1) The Board may issue a license to practice as a funeral director in the District to an applicant who is licensed by another state by waiver of the examination and apprenticeship requirements of subsection (a) of this section.

(2) An applicant for a license to practice as a funeral director in the District shall furnish proof to the Board that he or she:

(A) Is currently licensed in good standing as a funeral director in a state or territory of the United States with requirements for licensure that are substantially similar to those in effect in the District;

(B) Has practiced continuously in the state or territory of licensure as a funeral director for at least 5 years preceding his or her application; and

(C) Meets the qualifications specified in subsection (a)(1), (2), (5), and (6) of this section.


(May 22, 1984, D.C. Law 5-84, § 6, 31 DCR 1815; Sept. 15, 1992, D.C. Law 9-150, § 2-3, 39 DCR 5019; Mar. 17, 1993, D.C. Law 9-207, § 2, 40 DCR 14; Apr. 20, 1999, D.C. Law 12-261, § 1239, 46 DCR 3142; Apr. 20, 1999, D.C. Law 12-263, § 13(a), 46 DCR 2111; Oct. 28, 2003, D.C. Law 15-38, § 3(c), 50 DCR 6913; Mar. 25, 2009, D.C. Law 17-353, § 186(a), 56 DCR 1117; Sept. 24, 2010, D.C. Law 18-223, § 2082(c), 57 DCR 6242; Sept. 26, 2012, D.C. Law 19-171, § 28, 59 DCR 6190; Oct. 8, 2016, D.C. Law 21-160, § 3033, 63 DCR 10775.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 2-2805.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 7-1541.06.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 15-38, in par. (1A) of subsec. (e), substituted “Public Health Funeral Establishment endorsement to a basic business license under the basic” for “Class A Public Health Funeral Establishment endorsed to a master business license under the master”.

D.C. Law 17-353, in subsecs. (e)(3) and (g)(7), substituted “§ 3-420” for “§ 3-403(i)”; and, in subsec. (h)(4)(B), substituted “§ 3-420” for “§ 3-403(d)”.

D.C. Law 18-223 rewrote subsec. (e)(5); and added subsec. (i). Prior to amendment, subsec. (e)(5) read as follows: “(5) The Mayor shall provide all health care facilities, as those facilities are defined in § 44-501(a), a list of all funeral services establishments authorized to receive human remains for care or preparation in accordance with this chapter. The list shall consist only of funeral services establishments licensed and operating in the District of Columbia pursuant to this subsection, shall include the funeral services establishment license number, and shall be updated annually.”

The 2012 amendment by D.C. Law 19-171 deleted “Except as provided by § 3-420” at the beginning of (h)(4)(B).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary amendment of section, see § 2-3 of the Funeral Services Regulatory Emergency Amendment Act of 1992 (D.C. Act 9-230, June 19, 1992, 39 DCR 4919).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 3(c) of Streamlining Regulation Emergency Act of 2003 (D.C. Act 15-145, August

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see §§ 2 and 3 of Funeral Services Regulatory Temporary Amendment Act of 1992 (D.C. Law 9-150, September 15, 1992, law notification 39 DCR 7280).

References in Text

Former “§ 47-2843(c),” referred to in subdivision (b)(3) of this section, was repealed by § 22 of D.C. Law 5-84.

Delegation of Authority

Delegation of authority pursuant to Law 5-84, see Mayor’s Order 87-186, August 3, 1987.