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Exhumations occur for a number of reasons, including:

  • movement from the original grave to a subsequently acquired family plot in the same or other cemetery.
  • repatriation overseas to be buried along with other family.
  • transfer from one cemetery scheduled for development to another or,
  • court orders requiring further forensic examination.

You need to apply for a licence from the Ministry of Justice to remove human remains from the ground. Applications should be made via the Gov.UK website. You will need the signature of any close relatives, the owner of the grave/ cremation plot and the burial authority.

It is an offence to exhume any human remains without first obtaining the necessary lawful permissions. The following maybe required:

  • A licence must be obtained from the Ministry of Justice, Coroners and Burials Division. Exhumation licences will also contain certain conditions that have to be observed
  • If the person is buried in consecrated grounds, permission from the church must also be obtained
  • An environmental health officer must be present at the exhumation of a body to ensure that there is no threat to public health.
  • Occassionally cadaver certificates are required in addition to exhumation licences.