An exhumation is the removal from the ground of a deceased body or cremated remains. It also applies to the disturbance of remains within a grave. Exhumations are rare and can be traumatic for the family; however it is unlawful to disturb any human remains without first obtaining the necessary legal authority. The information provided here is a general guidance to the exhumation of buried or cremated remains.
An exhumation cannot take place without a licence issued by the relevant authority. There are two types of licence, which can be issued, and it is important that the correct licence be obtained. The type of ground from which the deceased is being exhumed and the ground to which it will be reinterred will determine the type of licence required.
A Home Office licence covers exhumations of deceased persons interred in unconsecrated ground to be reinterred in unconsecrated or consecrated ground.
If the deceased is to be exhumed from consecrated ground and reinterred in consecrated ground a Bishops Faculty licence will be required.