When a person is buried, it is seen as their final resting place but from time to time, due to varying circumstances it may be necessary to remove the remains of an individual from a grave. This process is called exhumation.

Exhumations are generally very rare but may be necessary for the following reasons: ·

  • To move remains from an original grave plot to a new grave for personal family reasons.
  • To deepen an existing grave for a further burial.
  • To arrange for a body to be cremated.
  • By a court order for forensic examination.

You must apply for a licence from the Ministry of Justice to remove human remains from a grave. Further information can be found on the Gov.UK website (see link below). It is important to point out that it is a criminal offence to disturb any human remains (this also includes cremated remains) without first obtaining the necessary lawful authority.

As part of the application for a licence you will need to get the signature of any close relatives and the owner of the grave plot and the permission of Council. Normally, a specialised exhumation firm will carry out the removal of the remains. Exhumations are generally carried out early in the morning and an Environmental Health Officer for the Council may be in attendance along with a funeral director and Bereavement Services staff.

An exhumation can be an expensive process as you have the cost of the exhumation itself, possibly a new outer coffin plus the cost of either re-burial of the remains or a cremation.

If you have any queries on the process please contact Bereavement Services on 01902 696111 or by email bereavementservices@sstaffs.gov.uk


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