'Exhumation' means removing human remains (either a body or cremated remains) from the ground.

You may need to exhume human remains to:

  • move a body from the original grave site to a new grave
  • deepen an existing grave for a further burial
  • send them for cremation 

Apply for an exhumation licence

You need to apply for a licence to remove human remains from the ground. Funeral directors can also help in obtaining a licence. If the person is buried in religious grounds, you must get permission from the church.

Health and safety

An Environmental Health Officer must be present at the exhumation and supervise the event to make sure 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.

Please contact your local Environmental Health Officer for more advice and help.

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