Exhumations are generally rare and tend to be traumatic for the family involved. They can take a long time to arrange and are usually expensive, you will also require a licence from the Home Office before you begin to make arrangements.

Exhumations occur for a number of reasons including:

  • movement from the original grave to a subsequently acquired family plot in the same or other cemetery;
  • repatriation overseas to be buried along with other family;
  • transfer from one cemetery scheduled for development to another;
  • a court order that requires further forensic examination.

It is an offence to exhume any human remains without first obtaining the necessary lawful permissions, your Funeral Director can help you ensure you have the necessary licences and documents, including:

  • permission from the Home Office;
  • permission from the Church if the person is buried in Consecrated grounds.

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. The Officer will also ensure that:

  • the correct grave is opened;
  • the exhumation commences as early as possible in the morning to ensure maximum privacy;
  • the plot is screened as appropriate for privacy;
  • health and safety of all workers is maintained e.g. protective clothing including masks and gloves, task lights and all other necessary equipment;
  • everyone present shows due respect to the deceased person and to adjoining graves;
  • the nameplate on the casket corresponds to that on the licence;
  • the new casket has been approved by the Environmental Health Officer;
  • all human remains and all the pieces of casket are placed in the new casket and the new casket is properly sealed;
  • the area of exhumation is properly disinfected; and
  • satisfactory arrangements are in place for the onward transmission of the remains.

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

Bolton Council

Overdale Crematorium

Overdale Drive



Telephone 01204 334499
Fax 01204 847312
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