How do I donate my body to science in France?

I’d like to donate my body to science after death. How do I register to do this in France?

21 March 2020
By Oliver Rowland

There are set government rules on this, the first being that only people over 18 can give their bodies to science, which we assume is the case!

If you are sure it is what you want to do, a dated and signed letter, handwritten on blank paper, saying you wish to donate your body must then be sent to the closest of 28 designated centres, which can be found on the website of the Association Française d’Information Funéraire (AFIF).

The centre, which is likely to be a teaching hospital, will then ask you to send back a detailed form, a signed statement confirming the wish for the donation, a photocopy of both sides of your ID (such as a passport), and a stamped self-addressed envelope, which will be used to send a donor card.

When you die, the original of this card will be used to send your body to the designated centre, within 48 hours, so keep it somewhere where it will be found.

Note however that it is not free of charge to give your body to science.

The centre will pay for cremation or burial after it has been used for scientific purposes, but it will not usually pay the cost of transporting the body to the centre, which has to be done by a funeral company.

AFIF said the only way of knowing the cost is to shop around and get a binding quote.

“The price can double from one funeral company to another in the same street,” a spokesman said.

“They are all trained in taking bodies to reception centres but are free to charge what they want. By shopping around, you can be sure your
survivors will not be overcharged.”

Ashes can be returned to families after cremation but most are spread in memorial gardens at the hospital.

If, after making arrangements, you change your mind, you should destroy the donor card and write to the centre explaining your decision.

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