¥333M of funeral service fees exempted in a decade

Writer: Zhang Yu  |  Editor: Zhang Chanwen  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2023-04-06

Shenzhen has waived approximately 333 million yuan (US$48.4 million) of basic funeral service fees in the past 11 years as part of its funeral reform efforts to make funeral and burial rituals more affordable, convenient and eco-friendly.

The figure was revealed by the city’s civil affairs bureau Tuesday, a day before this year’s Qingming Festival, or Tomb Sweeping Day.

Residents place chrysanthemum to honor their deceased loved ones yesterday. Zhong Huadeng

It was the first Tomb Sweeping Day that allowed citizens to offer sacrifices at cemeteries since the COVID-19 pandemic took place, which has let loose a pent-up demand for tomb visits on this special day. Cemeteries and columbariums across the city had been visited by 110,000 tomb sweepers as of 2 p.m. yesterday, according to the bureau.

Shenzhen became the first city in Guangdong Province to waive the basic funeral service fees for all of its residents, irrespective of whether they have a local hukou, or household registration, in 2012.

In the same year, the city increased the number of free funeral service items from eight to 10, increasing the exempted fees from 2,030 yuan to 2,200 yuan in total.

“I had thought that it would be a major expense to make funeral arrangements, but I didn’t expect that it only cost a few tens of yuan for the whole process,” said a woman surnamed Wu, who recently handled funeral affairs for his father in Shenzhen.

According to Wu, her father passed away at a local hospital. As she is an only child and has no relatives in the city, she called the funeral home’s hotline on the advice of a hospital staffer.

“I didn’t spend much on my father’s funeral arrangements, as the funeral home has provided one-stop services ranging from body transfer, disinfection, farewell, cremation to ashes storage. The only expenses were some black gauze and small white flowers, which I purchased myself,” Wu said.

She was also surprised that her father, who didn’t have a Shenzhen hukou, was eligible for the fee-exemption policy.

In order to further optimize funeral services and simplify the process, Shenzhen has continuously improved its online smart funeral service system to help citizens book appointments and inquire about relevant information.

It has also promoted land-saving ecological burials such as sea and tree burials, with 47 mass sea burials and 16 tree burials having been held so far.

Families of the deceased are paid subsidies if the deceased previously was a permanent resident of the city. A family can receive 3,000 yuan per cremated remains. For other types of ecological burials, the subsidy is 1,000 yuan, according to the civil affairs bureau.

Starting November 2021, applications for sea burials are accepted throughout the year. When a specific number of applications have been received, a mass sea burial will be carried out.