Exhuming a deceased body
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.
Exhumation of both buried and cremated remains
generally requires a licence from the Ministry of Justice.
Telephone: 020 3334 6390
Website: The Ministry of Justice
If the remains are in consecrated ground then
permission must be obtained from the Diocesan Court.
From time to time, due to varying
circumstances, it may be necessary to move the remains of an
individual from a grave. This process is called exhumation.
Exhumation means the removal from the ground of
a body or cremated remains. It also covers the disturbance of
remains within a grave, particularly when a grave is reopened for
burial. It is important to understand that it is unlawful to
disturb any human remains (this includes any cremated remains)
without first obtaining the necessary legal authority.
The cost of an exhumation can be substantial, so
the financial implications should be clearly established from the
outset. It is very difficult to give precise details. Although
there is no fee for a DCA licence, remember to include:
- Memorial removal costs
- Funeral director’s charges, including the cost of a new coffin
or cremated remains casket
- Cemetery fees and charges for exhumation and reinterment by
the local authority
Decency and safety
Both an Environmental Health and Cemeteries
Officer must be present at the exhumation and will supervise the
event to ensure that respect for the deceased person is maintained
and that public health is protected. The Officer/s will also ensure
- the correct grave is opened,
- the exhumation begins as early as possible in the morning to
ensure maximum privacy,
- the plot is screened for privacy,
- health and safety of all workers is maintained - for example, protective
clothing including masks and gloves, task lights and all other
necessary equipment is provided,
- everyone present shows due respect to the deceased person and
to adjoining graves,
- the nameplate on the casket corresponds to that on the
- the new casket has been approved
- all human remains and all the pieces of casket are placed in
the new casket,
- the new casket is properly sealed,
- the area of exhumation is properly disinfected, and
- satisfactory arrangements are in place for the onward
transmission of the remains
- all full body exhumations are carried out by an external company who are experienced in this field
- contact with the bereaved family is maintained at all times via the Cemeteries Manager in a sympathetic manner to ensure their wishes are respected.
If the conditions of the licence cannot be met,
or there are public health or decency concerns, the exhumation may
All exhumation applications and requests are
dealt with individually and further detailed information can be
obtained from the Cemetery Manager.
If you have any queries on exhumation in
Dacorum, or you need more independent
advice, please contact the Cemetery Manager.
Telephone: 01442 228066