Exhumation of a deceased body
Exhumations are generally and often traumatic for the family involved. They can take a long time to arrange and are usually expensive. On the very rare occasion when relatives are not organising an exhumation, consultation with family members should always take place before commencing the exhumation process.
Exhumations occur for numerous reasons, including;
- Movement from the original grave to a subsequently acquired family plot in the same or other cemetery.
- Transfer from one cemetery scheduled for development to another
- Court orders requiring further forensic examination.
- Repatriation overseas to be buried along with other family members.
However, many statutory requirements have to be met and it is an offence to exhume any human remains, including cremated remains, without obtaining the necessary lawful permissions first. The relevant burial authority or local funeral directors can provide the appropriate forms.
A licence can be obtained from the Ministry of Justice or by using the link below. Exhumation licences will contain certain conditions that have to be observed. If the person is buried on Consecrated ground, it is also necessary to obtain a faculty from the Consistory Court of the diocese in which the body is to be exhumed. Permission must also be sought from the burial authority to which the human remains will be exhumed.
An Environmental Health Officer must be present at the exhumation and supervise the event to ensure that respect for the deceased person is maintained and that public health is protected. If the conditions of the licence cannot be met, or there are public health or decency concerns, the exhumation may not proceed.
Information can also be sought from the Coroner's section of the Home Office web site http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.justice.gov.uk/guidance/burials.htm.
E.mail: Bereavement Services
Tel: 01536 525722
Fax: 01536 524209
Last updated 16/04/2014