How to Get an Exhumation Licence

Learn more about exhumations and how to get an exhumation licence

Last updated: 5 October 2017

If you want to remove a loved one from their resting place, you will need to apply for an exhumation licence. Even exhuming their ashes requires a licence. The scenarios that require this licence includes when you want to:

  • move a loved one 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

Those living in England or Wales will need to fill-in the application form and get the signatures of any close relatives, the owner of the grave and the relevant burial authority. Those living in Northern Ireland and Scotland should first contact their local authority for guidance.

You won’t be charged for getting an exhumation licence, but there may be other charges you incur throughout the process:

  • Cemetery fees
  • Removal of memorials
  • Funeral director fees
  • Bishop fees (if your loved one is buried on consecrated ground)
  • Re-burial costs

Before making these arrangements, consider that the removal of a loved one from their grave can be distressing for some family members. It is important that you talk about your plans with your family and the local authority before you proceed further.