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Exhumation Licence

To remove human remains from the ground you will need an Exhumation Licence. You might want an Exhumation Licence to examine the contents of a coffin which is buried, or to move the deceased person’s remains to another location.

LICENCE Name

Exhumation Licence

AUTHORITY

Ministry of Justice

TIME TO GET LICENCED 4 weeks
STEPS TO GET LICENSED
1

Application for a Home Office Exhumation Licence

Submit Application
Send to Ministry of Justice and addressed to the Coroners, Burials, Cremation and Inquiries Team.
2

Application for Bishops Faculty Exhumation Licence

Submit Application
Send to application to the Church of England representative in local area
3

Additional potential cost of exhumation

Cemetery fees
Removal of memorials
Funeral director fees
Bishop fees (if remains are buried on consecrated ground)
Re-burial costs
Get Licenced

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What is an Exhumation Licence?

If you want to remove human remains from the ground, you will need to apply for an exhumation licence.

The scenarios that require an exhumation licence may include the following:

  • move human remains from one grave to a new grave
  • deepen an existing grave so that another person can be buried there
  • remove them so that they can be cremated
  • a court has ordered further forensic examination

Which type of Exhumation Licence do I need?

There are two types of licence available for exhumation:

The scenarios that require an exhumation licence may include the following:

  • A Bishops Faculty licence
  • A Home Office licence

Normally you will need either one or the other, although there are certain circumstances where you may require both. The type of ground from which remains are to be exhumed, and where they are going to be exhumed to, determines the exhumation licence that is required.

If human remains are to be exhumed from a grave in consecrated ground to be re-interred in consecrated ground in another burial ground you will only need to apply for a Bishops Faculty licence.

If an exhumation is to be carried out from unconsecrated ground to either consecrated/consecrated ground, only a Home Office licence is needed.

How to apply for a Home Office Exhumation Licence

To apply for an exhumation licence you will need to fill-in the application form and get the signatures of any close relatives and the owner of the grave.

Once the application form has been completed. You should send it to the Ministry of Justice and addressed to the Coroners, Burials, Cremation and Inquiries Team.

This can be sent via post or via email, of which details can be found on the exhumation licence application form.

How to apply for a Apply for a Bishops Faculty Exhumation Licence

A Bishops Faculty can be obtained by application to the Church of England Diocese for the area where the deceased is interred. You will need to contact your local Church of England representatives.

How much does an Exhumation Licence cost?

Acquiring an exhumation licence does not cost nothing, however, please be aware that there may be other charges you incur throughout the process. This includes the following:

  • Cemetery fees
  • Removal of memorials
  • Funeral director fees
  • Bishop fees (if remains are buried on consecrated ground)
  • Re-burial costs

This usually comes to between £2,500 to £3,000 but costs can vary.

FAQs

Exhumation in its simplest term, means the removal from the ground of a body or cremated human remains.
If an exhumation licence is granted, you'll be sent the date and time of the exhumation. It will happen out of working hours, usually around 4am or 5am.
An environmental health officer and cemeteries officer can be present at the exhumation. You will also be able to attend but this is optional.
No. It is unlawful to disturb any human remains without first obtaining the necessary legal authority and exhumation licence. Those in violation could face legal action, fines and even potential jail time.