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Ribble Valley Borough Council

Exhuming a deceased body

Service outline:

There are occasions when it is necessary to exhume human remains, however this is a very traumatic event and should only be entered into after giving it every consideration.

All next of kin to the deceased should be considered before obtaining a licence to exhume a body or cremated remains.

The exhumation from the ground of a body or cremated remains is traumatic for families and the cemetery staff. Arrangements take a long time and it is an upsetting and expensive business.


If you decide to proceed, please follow these steps.


Contact the cemetery staff they will advise you on all aspects of the exhumation. Please keep in touch with the Cemetery staff throughout the following process. In addition to the exhumation fee, the following costs must be considered.

  1. Cemetery fees for disinterment including the removal of any memorials
  2. Funeral Directors charges including new coffin/casket and removal to new sit
  3. Bishop's Faculty if required

2. Home Office Licence

Obtain an application form from the Home Office. Complete Part A. Pass the forms to the cemetery staff who will check that the details are correct for example grave numbers etc. They will add a statement to the form if there are any objections to the exhumation for example consent has not been obtained from the next of kin or other bodies need to be disturbed. You will be advised of this. The form must be signed by the Cemetery Manager and forwarded to the Home Office.

The Home Office do not charge for issuing a licence.

Complete a separate form for each set of remains.

It takes approximately 3 to 4 weeks for a licence to be issued if there are no problems .

Pass the licence to the cemetery staff. A copy of the licence is sent to the Environmental Health Officer, Public Protection Service who must attend the exhumation.

3. Bishops Faculty

If a body or cremated remains are buried in consecrated grounds according to the rites of the Church of England you must obtain a Bishop's Faculty. the cemetery staff will advise you if the burial was in a consecrated area of the cemetery. If it was not, you do not need a Bishop's Faculty.

Obtain an application form from the Bishops Registrar. complete it and pass the forms to the cemetery staff with the Registrar's fee and a letter of consent from the Vicar of the Authority where the remains are to be re-interred.

The cemetery staff will add a letter of consent to the application form and a copy of the Home Office Licence. They will forward all these to the Registrar.

The Registrar on your behalf presents a petition to the Bishop.

It takes about 6 weeks for a Bishop's Faculty to be granted, if there are no problems. When you receive this approval forward it to the cemetery staff.

4. The Funeral Director

Contact a Funeral Director and make enquiries regarding the fees. Arrange for a coffin to be at the cemetery ready for the transfer of the remains and for the transportation, to where the remains are to be re-interred. You will have contacted that Authority yourself or through the funeral director and made the arrangements for burial, after arranging the date of exhumation with the cemetery staff. The funeral director will act on your behalf over any problems when the grave is opened.

5. The Exhumation

when you have received the Home Office licence and if necessary the Bishop's Faculty arrange with the cemetery staff a suitable date for the exhumation. The exhumation takes place early in the morning before the cemetery is open. It will be carried out with decency and decorum. You will not be allowed to attend the exhumation.

Those present are

  • The funeral director who is your representative.
  • An Environmental Health Officer who ensures there is no public health threat to the staff carrying out the exhumation and for subsequent visitors to the cemetery. An Environmental Officer does not have to be present for exhumation of cremated remains.
  • The cemetery staff carrying out and supervising the exhumation.

There are conditions attached to the Home Office licence and Bishop's Faculty which must be adhered to. The cemetery staff will explain these to you.

Each exhumation is different, with its own set of circumstances, which often are not known until the day of the exhumation when the grave is opened. Decomposition of a body and coffin depends on a number of factors, including how long the body has been buried and ground conditions.

Key contacts

Contact: Cemetery and Grounds Maintenance Officer

Telephone: 01200 414478

Fax: 01200 414488

Visit: Cemetery and Grounds Maintenance Officer
RVBC, Church Walk, Clitheroe

Contact: Home Office Licence

Telephone: 020 7273 3776

The Home Office, ABCU Exhumation Applications, ROOM 972, 50 Queen Anne's Gate, London, SW1H 9AT

Contact: Bishop's Faculty

Telephone: 01254 54421

Registrar and Legal Secretary, Bishop of Blackburn's Registry, Church House, Cathedral Close, Blackburn, BB1 5AA

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