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Exhuming a deceased body

Exhumation of both buried and cremated remains generally requires a Home Office licence.

Exhumation licences will also contain certain conditions that have to be observed. If the person is buried in consecrated grounds, permission from the church must also be obtained.

It is an offence to exhume any human remains without first obtaining the necessary lawful permissions. Funeral directors can help in obtaining these.

Occasionally cadaver certificates are required in addition to exhumation licences.

Decency and safety

An Environmental Health Officer must be present at the exhumation to supervise the event and ensure that respect for the deceased person is maintained and that public health is protected.

If the conditions of the licence cannot be met, or there are public health or decency concerns, the exhumation may not proceed.

Cadaver certificates

Obtaining a cadaver certificate is usually handled by the funeral director on behalf of the relatives. The funeral director will also help with anything requested by the Coroner and with requirements of the authorities in the overseas country to which the deceased is going. Some of these requirements may apply for burial in another part of the United Kingdom.

The certificate is issued by the Environmental Health Officer for the Council in whose area the person died, or is to be exhumed from before reburial elsewhere.

Please contact us for further information.

Repatriation of a deceased body abroad

Some countries require a cadaver certificate before they will allow a body into the country for burial. The certificate, if issued, confirms that no epidemic of infectious disease occurred in the borough for some three months preceding the death.