SHSND Home Archives State Agencies State Board of Funeral Services
To schedule an appointment, please contact us at 701.328.2091 or

OCLC WorldCat Logo

SHSND Photobook - Digitized images from State Archives

Digital Horizons

2019-2021 Blue Book Cover

Federal Depository Library Program

Chronicling America

Archives - State Agencies - State Board of Funeral Services

[Authorized:  NDCC Section 43-10-02]

Created in 1905 the state board of embalmers consisted of five members including the president of the state board of health, secretary of the state board of health, and three registered embalmers appointed by the governor. The secretary of state administered an oath of office to all civil officers including the embalmers. The board was responsible for conducting examinations and administering licenses (S. L. 1905, Ch. 111).  Early embalmers were questioned only on care, deposition, preservation and sanitation, and the licensee had to be of good moral character. A license fee was required. In 1931 (S. L. 1931, Ch. 41) the applicant was tested by the state department of health on the rules and regulations and on several academic subjects. In 1963 the law required that an applicant show that the funeral establishment complied with all the rules adopted by the board in regard to safety and sanitation, and that the business be supervised by someone licensed in funeral service. The establishment needed to be open for inspection by the state health department (S. L. 1963, Ch. 305). 

In 1989 the state board of embalmers was renamed the state board of funeral services (S. L. 1989, Ch. 513), and the board changed slightly when the state health officer replaced both the president and secretary of the state board of health. Qualifications for the three appointed members remained the same. Also in 1989 the appointed board members were required to have practiced in North Dakota for a minimum of three years, and the appointed members served four year staggered terms. Vacancies on the board were filled by the governor. The board elected a president, secretary, and treasurer and adopted regulations for the transaction of funeral services. The board administered and carried out the rules and regulations as adopted in the session laws including preventing the spread of contagious disease and adopting rules of professional conduct and high ethics for funeral directors, embalmers, intern embalmers, and all funeral services personal. The board developed other regulations as necessary for the management of its affairs. The board is responsible for the licensing and renewals of license for funeral service practitioners and funeral establishments, including crematoriums, and intern embalmers. The board hears complaints against a practitioner or an establishment and takes appropriate action.  It is required to meet at least once a year, but may hold special meetings as frequently as necessary. The governor may remove a board member at any time if there is a good cause for removal (S. L.1997, Ch. 367).

Legislation in 1973 and 1975 adopted laws to govern pre-need services and the reporting of financial arrangement of services to the commissioner of securities (S. L. 1973, Ch. 348)(S. L. 1975, Ch. 401). The legislature empowered the board to require funeral homes to disclose all funeral costs and expenses to customers (S. L. 1975, Ch. 400). The laws enacted required disclosure in writing of the retail price of merchandise and services selected, including the total retail cost of each supplemental item requested and terms of payment.

To qualify for an embalmer’s license an applicant must furnish proof of being of good moral character and complete the required preparation and coursework, including a twelve month internship. An intern must have a certificate of registration from the board before serving the internship. The certificate of registration is good for one year and may be renewed three times. The intern must be at least eighteen years of age, of good moral character, and have completed a four year high school course of study and two years of accredited postsecondary studies, or be a graduate of an accredited college of mortuary science. If the requirements are met the applicant is allowed to take the exam (S. L.1997, Ch.367). Continuing education classes are required for license renewal. These classes may be conducted by the board (S. L.1993, Ch. 420).  

Business services of the licensee of a funeral establishment or crematorium must be conducted at the specific street address or location stated on the license, and branch establishments must have their own license. There are provisions in the law that allow for licensing by reciprocity. Licenses in all categories are not transferable, and are renewable each year. A license must be displayed where it can be seen by the public.  


1905    State Board of Embalmers created with three members appointed by the governor  
            plus president and secretary of the state board of health ( S. L. 1905, Ch. 111).

1909    Anyone applying to become an embalmer had to appear before the board to  answer questions about sanitation (S. L. 1909, Ch.108).

1931    Embalmers must pass written exam that includes academic questions and rules  
and regulations of the state board of health (S. L. 1931, Ch. 141).

1963    Funeral establishments are required to be licensed (S. L. 1963, Ch. 305).

1973    A complete report must be submitted to the secretary of state on the pre-need services sold to clients by funeral establishments and cemetery associations (S. L. 1973, Ch. 348).

1975    Commissioner of securities to receive annual reports on pre-need services (S. L.1975, Ch. 401).                               

1975    Total cost of merchandise and services to be disclosed at time of selection (S. L. 1975, Ch. 400).

1979    Four new chapters added to North Dakota Century Code relating to pre-need  services (S. L. 1979, Ch. 463).

1979    Fees for licenses increased (S. L. 1979, Ch. 462).

1983    Licensing expanded to include cremation (S. L. 1983, Ch. 477).

1989    Board of embalmers renamed board of funeral services. Membership changed to include the state health officer and remove officers of the health department. Licensing for crematoriums required (S. L. 1989, Ch.  513).

1993    New section of North Dakota Century Code requiring embalmers to have continuing education credits for license renewal (S. L. 1993, Ch. 420).

1997    Eleven new sections added to North Dakota Century Code relating to funeral practice exemptions, limitation on licenses, registration of intern embalmers, and licenses to operate a crematorium (S. L. 1997, Ch.367).

2009       New laws relating to the powers of the state board of funeral services, licensing changes, and inspection of funeral establishments (S. L. 2009, Ch. 360). Clarifies the law forbidding operating and managing a funeral services without a license (S. L. 2009, Ch.359).

2011       Legislation allowed for leave from work by state employees who serve as members of  the honor guard (S. L. 2011, Ch. 292) and amended laws relating to excess assets in pre-need funeral service contracts, prepayments, or deposits (S. L. 2011, Ch. 363).

2013       Laws concerned those eligible for Medicaid and the amount exempt for designated pre-need funeral service contracts (S. L. 2013, Ch. 377).

2017       Legislation relating to funeral services practitioners changed wording in the Code  and added a subsection [NDCC 23-06-03] concerning responsibility for the deposition of the decedent (S.L. 2017, Ch. 92).  Legislation also amended the indigent burial duties and instructions for survivors (S.L. 2017, Ch. 188).


31043 Minutes
31044 Records
31045 Ledger
32139 Register of North Dakota Licensed Embalmers and Interns


Gray, David P.  Guide to the North Dakota State Archives, 1985.
North Dakota Century Code.
North Dakota Secretary of State Blue Book.
North Dakota State Legislature Session Laws.
North Dakota State Board of Funeral Service Website.

612 East Boulevard Ave.
Bismarck, North Dakota 58505
Get Directions

State Museum and Store: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. M-F; Sat. & Sun. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
We are closed New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.
State Archives: 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. M-F, except state holidays; 2nd Sat. of each month, 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Appointments are recommended. To schedule an appointment, please contact us at 701.328.2091 or
State Historical Society offices: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. M-F, except state holidays.

Contact Us:
phone: 701.328.2666

Social Media:
See all social media accounts