Exhumation means 'any disturbance' of buried human remains. Bodies can be exhumed for many reasons, including the lack of burial space, redevelopment of old cemeteries or crypts, archaeological reasons, individual requests for reburial, repatriation or cremation, or criminal investigations.

The need to exhume is not a common occurrence. However, when exhumation is required it must be done with dignity and respect and with all of the necessary legal licences and documentation. It is unlawful to disturb any human remains, including cremated remains, without permission.

There are three categories of legal exhumation:

  • Under a Ministry of Justice licence;
  • Ecclesiastical faculty (where remains are exhumed from consecrated ground);
  • A Coroner's order.

What you can do

A family making a request for personal reasons should contact Life and family who will be able to offer advice and support regarding the necessary paperwork and process to follow.

What we can do

Once an Exhumation License is issued by either the Ministry of Justice of the Church of England, a copy will be sent to Bereavement Services and we will begin to make arrangements for the exhumation to take place.

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