Exhumations are generally rare and tend to be difficult for the family involved. They can be expensive and take a long time to arrange, as a licence from the Ministry of Justice and possibility a Bishops Faculty are required. Application can only be made by the person holding the Rights of Burial.
Exhumation occurs for a number of reasons:
Movement from the original grave to another grave subsequently acquired as a family plot
Repatriation overseas to be buried with other family members
Transfer from one cemetery scheduled for development to another
A court order required further forensic evidence
It is an offence to exhume any remains without obtaining the lawful permission. Your funeral director or we can assist you with this.
Ministry of Justice Licence
application form is available from the Ministry of Justice
Once completed the form needs to be sent to us for processing and sending to the Ministry. The Ministry do not charge for this service.
When an exhumation is to take place from consecrated ground a request can be made direct to the Diocesan Registrar once it has been established bishop’s faculty is required. We will confirm this for you prior to the application. The Diocese make a charge for this service.
The Environmental Health Officer has to be notified and ensure that the respect for the deceased person is maintained and that the public health is protected. The officer will also check:
That the correct grave is opened
Exhumation takes place early in the morning to ensure privacy
The plot is screened to maintain privacy
Health and safety of workers is maintained
Due respect is given to the deceased and those in adjoining grave spaces
Name plate on the casket corresponds to that on the licence
New casket has been approved and is large enough to contain the old casket and the remains and that the new casket is sealed.
Arrangements made for the transmission of the remains are in place
If the conditions of the licence are not met, or there are public health or decency concerns, the exhumation may not proceed.