Exhuming a deceased body

Exhumation of both buried and cremated remains generally requires a licence from the Justice Website


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
  • Court orders requiring further forensic examination


It is an offence to exhume any human remains without first obtaining the necessary lawful permissions. Funeral Directors can help in obtaining these.


 The following conditions also apply:


  • an exhumation licence contains certain conditions that have to be observed
  • an Environmental Health Officer must be present at the exhumation of a body to ensure that there is no threat to public health - use the link below to contact the Environmental Improvement team to request the presence of an officer at the exhumation.
  • if the remains are being interred in another country the Home Office will need confirmation of the approval to this from the relevant authorities
  • occasionally, cadaver certificates are required in addition to an exhumation licence.


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