How to get an exhumation licence

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If you want to move a loved one from their final resting place, you’ll need to apply for an exhumation licence. This applies even if the person was cremated rather than buried.

Fortunately, the process is quite straightforward, and as long as you have permission from other relatives and the relevant authorities, you shouldn’t face any problems in getting an exhumation licence.

What is an exhumation licence?

An exhumation licence gives you permission to move the body or cremated remains of someone who has died, after they’ve been buried.

The licence is issued by the government. For example, in England and Wales, applications are reviewed and approved by the Ministry of Justice.

Why you might need an exhumation licence

There are several reasons why you might need to move the body of someone after they’ve been buried. These include:

How to get an exhumation licence

The process for getting an exhumation licence is slightly different, depending on where you live.

What to do if you live in England or Wales

If you live in England or Wales, you need to visit the government website and fill out the online application form with details about the exhumation. You’ll also need to get signatures from:

You can send the completed form by email or by post, though keep in mind that your application may take longer by post.

What to do if you live in Scotland

If you live in Scotland, the law says that all the exhumation paperwork and negotiations must be carried out by a trained solicitor. So you’ll need to find a solicitor who can help you with making the application. He or she will then confirm the location of the burial and get a ‘Feasibility Certificate’ from the administrator of the cemetery. After that, they’ll contact the local sheriff to grant the licence.

Once the licence has been approved, you can make arrangements with the cemetery administrator for the exhumation to take place.

What to do if you live in Northern Ireland

If you live in Northern Ireland, you need to apply to the Department for Communities for an exhumation licence. You can download the application form online but will need to print it out and send it by post.

For your application to be approved, you’ll need consent from the nearest living relative of the person who is buried. For example, if you’re the child of the person who’s buried, but their wife or husband is still alive, you’ll need their permission for the exhumation.

In Northern Ireland, exhumation licences are for full burials but not cremated remains.

How much does an exhumation cost?

It’s free to apply for an exhumation licence in the UK. But once your application is approved, you’ll need to pay for the cost of the exhumation. It’s worth keeping in mind that this can cost almost as much as a funeral.

Exhumation costs can include:

Find more help with planning a re-burial

How much does a burial cost?

How much does a headstone cost?

What does a funeral director do?

 

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The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

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  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
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  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

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  • Medical certificate for cremation
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In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

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A Direct Cremation is an alternative to the traditional funeral. This involves the cremation of the deceased without a funeral service. A Direct Cremation is generally the most economic option because costs of the coffin, preparation of the body, funeral service and expensive transportation are not included. However, many people choose Direct Cremations for reasons other than expense, for example:

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  • A simple coffin and urn for the ashes
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This price includes the following:

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  • Collecting and transporting the deceased person from the place of death (normally within 15 miles of the funeral director’s premises) into the funeral director’s care
  • Care of the deceased person before the funeral in appropriate facilities.
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In addition to the Funeral Director’s fee, there will be third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements) to cover the other aspects of a funeral (such as the crematorium or burial fees). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to provide these for you.

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This is Funeral Choice’s best estimate of this Funeral Director’s fees and the crematorium fee for an Unattended Funeral, which is where family and friends may choose to have a ceremony, event or service for the deceased person, but they do not attend the burial or cremation itself. This is also known as a Direct Cremation.

This price includes the following:

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In addition to this fee, there might be additional third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to explain these for you.

If you wish to attend the funeral, you should view the “Attended Funeral” price instead.

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Why is this price Estimated?

We work hard to ensure the Funeral Director Fees we display are accurate and up to date. However, unlike with our partners, we cannot guarantee this price is correct today.

Funeral Director fees

The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
  • Hearse or appropriate vehicle for transport to the funeral
  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

  • Funeral flowers
  • Memorial (venue hire, catering etc)
  • Memorial headstone
  • Orders of service
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