Exhumation or disturbance of graves

Licences for exhumation

Exhumation "disturbance" of buried human remains is not common. When exhumation is required, it must be done with dignity, respect and with all of the necessary legal licences and documentation as it is unlawful to disturb any human remains (including cremated remains) without permission. There are two types of licences for exhumation:

  1. A Home Office Licence or
  2. A Bishops Faculty

Which licence is required is dependant on where the remains are at present and where they are going to be reburied.

Moving Remains From Moving Remains To Authority Required
Consecrated ground A different grave plot that is also consecrated Bishops Faculty
Consecrated ground Re-interring in exactly the same grave Bishops Faculty
Consecrated ground Unconsecrated ground Bishops Faculty
Unconsecrated ground Consecrated or unconsecrated ground, or re-interment in the same grave MOJ Licence

If a grave is to be reopened for further burials, it is the responsibility of the owner of the burial rights to arrange for the memorial to be removed so that the grave can be excavated. Your appointed funeral director will usually organise this on your behalf.

All work in the reopening of a vault (other than the removal of the soil) must be done by and at the cost of the owner who will employ their own staff. The rules and regulations of the cemetery must be adhered too and they will be held responsible for any damage to adjacent vaults, graves, tombs, monuments or memorial stones.

Apply for an exhumation licence