How to Get an Exhumation License

Paper Pen Hand

There are many reasons why you may wish or need to remove a departed loved one from their final resting place. However, before doing so, it’s vital that you apply for and obtain an exhumation license, even if the person in question was cremated rather than buried.

Fortunately, the process is quite a straightforward one, and as long as you have permission from other relatives and the relevant authorities, you shouldn’t face any problems in getting hold of an exhumation license. This handy guide will walk you through the process.

Why you might need an exhumation license

Any person wishing to remove the mortal remains of another must apply for an exhumation license, regardless of whether those remains are cremated or simply buried. There are a variety of scenarios in which you might need to do so, including:

• To relocate the body to a new burial site
• To enlarge the grave to make room for further burials
• To remove the body so that it can be cremated

What to do if you live in England or Wales

Those living south of the border should visit the government website and fill out the online application form with all of the relevant details about the exhumation. You’ll also need to provide signatures of all close relatives to show they are in agreement with the decision, as well as the owner of the land where the grave is situated and the burial authority themselves.

The license itself does not cost any money to apply for. However, the actual process of exhumation is likely to incur a fee, both payable to the burial authority and to whichever individual is contracted to actually carry out the process. There may also be costs involved in removing and/or reinstating any memorials and associated fees with re-burial or cremation.

What to do if you live in Scotland

In Scotland, the process is slightly different. The law requires that all of the paperwork and negotiations be carried out by a trained solicitor, so your first port of call should be seeking one out. He or she will then confirm the location of the burial and obtain a ‘Feasibility Certificate’ from the administrator of the cemetery in question, then contact the local Sheriff to grant the license.

Once the license has been approved, you can then make arrangements with the cemetery administrator for the exhumation to take place. Depending on what is to happen to the body after its exhumation, you may want to find a funeral director, contact the crematorium or arrange for the body to be interred in another plot.

A decision not to be made lightly

Losing a loved one is always a difficult process which can result in an emotional time for you and your nearest and dearest. Burial or cremation, and the subsequent interment of the mortal remains, can offer a degree of closure which it may be unwise to disrupt. Before applying for an exhumation license, it’s vital you talk the decision over with friends and family members to make sure you are all on the same page.


Request Callback

Please provide your details below to receive a prompt no-obligation callback from this funeral director


Request Advice

Call a member of the Funeral Choice advice team on 01983 754 387

or complete our enquiry form.

  • Tick the checkbox below if you agree to be contacted by Funeral Choice in the future

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

What is a Direct Cremation?

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:

  • - Wanting to have a memorial at a different time to the cremation
  • - Expressed desire from the deceased to not have a ceremony
  • - Individuals with relatives who face big physical or geographical challenges in coming together for a ceremony

The prices quoted for Direct Cremations include:

  • All charges, meetings and paperwork for the cremation
  • Collection of deceased and care prior to cremation
  • A simple coffin and urn for the ashes
  • Cremation fees and delivery of ashes to the family

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 Choice charity donation

To redeem the £20 charity donation all you have to do is select the charity from the dropdown list in the Make Contact form. Once you have confirmed arrangements with that funeral director send us an email to confirming the service has been arranged. After we receive this email we will make the donation to the chosen charity and confirm back to you.