Exhumation of both full burials and cremated remains require a Home Office licence or Bishop's Faculty or both.
Exhumations are generally rare and tend to be traumatic for the family involved. They can take a long time to arrange and are usually expensive. For these reasons, it is always best to consult with all the relatives before proceeding.
Exhumations occur for a number of reasons, including:
- movement from the original grave to a subsequently acquired family plot
- repatriation overseas to be buried along with other family
- on the coroner's order for further forensic examination.
If the interment is in unconsecrated ground a licence must be obtained from the Home Office. A copy of the application for exhumation is available by contacting the Cemeteries, Crematoria & Coroners Manager.
The Cemeteries, Crematoria & Coroners Manager is also required to approve the application. The Home Office does not charge a fee to issue a licence.
If the person is buried in consecrated ground, permission from the church must also be obtained. This is called a Bishop’s Faculty. Details of how to apply for a Faculty are available from the Cemeteries, Crematoria & Coroners Unit. The application for a Faculty has to be supported by the Cemeteries, Crematoria & Coroners Manager. A Faculty is rarely granted and a fee is payable whether the Faculty is granted or not.
If the remains are buried in consecrated ground and are to be interred in unconsecrated ground both a Home Office Licence and a Bishop's Faculty are required.
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
- 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.
Once you have obtained the exhumation licence from the Home Office and any other permissions that apply, you can fill in the exhumation form to book a date for the exhumation. Do not fill in the form until you have received the Home Office licence.
Who to contact
Cemeteries, Crematoria and Coroner
West Norwood Cemetery and Crematorium
Tel: 020 7926 7900
Fax: 020 7926 8030