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Exhumation Guidance


Bereavement Services


Brief details about Exhumations

Exhumations are generally rare. They cannot happen without having the necessary legal authorisation. Below are some brief guidance notes about the authorisations that are required and other relevant information.

It is important to point out that it is unlawful to disturb any human remains (this also includes any cremated remains) without first obtaining the necessary lawful authority.

The information provided here is a general guidance to the exhumation of both cremated remains and complete coffined burials.

Exhumation is the term used when human or cremated remains are to be moved. The word Exhumation comes from the Latin and means in a very narrow sense "from the ground". 


A situation may arise that means the remains of someone you care about needs to be removed from their grave or burial plot.

There are many reasons why this might arise, it maybe that the families make a request for personal reasons. The relatives may wish to change from the original grave to another family plot in the same or different cemetery.

There could be a request for repatriation overseas to be buried in a family vault. It could even be a change from burial to cremation as a mode of disposal.


Whatever the reasons, it is a traumatic occurrence for all those involved and should only be considered after carefully thinking through the whole process and getting as much information from all the relevant authorities before starting this activity.

You may also need to discuss the issues with other members of your family and discuss why you wish to proceed with this matter.

Arrangements may take a very long time to finalise and it may entail a lot of official procedures, and rules and regulations to work through before you finally obtain the proper permissions and licences.

Exhumation can a very expensive decision and full cost implications should be made clear when the initial request is made to carry out an exhumation, from all agencies concerned.

Not only will there be the cost of the exhumation itself, but some examples of 'forgotten' costs relating to exhumations could be:

  • Removal of memorials on all relevant graves
  • Exhumation Licences
  • Bishop Faculty fees
  • Funeral directors charges which will include new coffins or cremated remains caskets
  • Cemetery fees and charges
  • Re-burial costs

If you need more detailed advice telephone the crematorium office contact the cemetery office and a member of staff will be able to offer you independent advice on all aspects of exhumation including information on how to obtain the necessary paperwork or advise you where to acquire it.

We can also answer any questions and concerns you may have regarding all aspects of exhumation and re-burial.


There are generally two types of licences that are used for exhumation.

A Home Office Licence

Contact the Home Office if you require any additional information.

A Bishops Faculty

One of these or both will be needed, it is dependant on where the remains are at present and where they are going to be re-interred.

Most burial grounds/cemeteries are segregated between Consecrated and Unconsecrated areas.

Consecration is the term that is given to either all areas of a cemetery or smaller sections that have been 'dedicated to the service of God according to the right of the Church of England'.

The term consecration means to be ''set apart, or separated, for use by the Lord''. 

To make a cemetery or section consecrated a religious service takes place in the cemetery prior to burials taking place, by a Church of England Bishop who administers the area the cemetery is in.

Over the whole of England there are several 'Diocese', they cover many large cities, towns and villages and the eight cemeteries that Tameside Council administer come under two different dioceses - Manchester and Chester.

If the remains are to be removed from a grave in a consecrated section of a cemetery and are to be re-buried into another consecrated section then only a Bishops Faculty is required.

If the exhumation is from consecrated ground to be re-buried in the same grave or they are to go to an unconsecrated section both a Home Office Licence and Bishops Faculty will be required.

If the exhumation is from unconsecrated ground and the subsequent reburial is in unconsecrated ground then only a Home Office Licence is needed.

Where to get a Bishops Faculty


Manchester DioceseChester Diocese

Ashton (Hurst) Cemetery

Dukinfield Cemetery

Audenshaw Cemetery

Hyde Cemetery

Denton Cemetery

Mossley Cemetery

Droylsden Cemetery

Mottram Cemetery

You can contact them by clicking on the link below to their website:

Enquiries should be made in each individual case to the relevant Diocese and there could be variations of costs and administration details between all the different Dioceses in England, and procedures and applications will vary.

More information about Diocesan areas are on the Church of England website: Church of England Diocesan ContactsLink to External Website

Where to get a Home Office Licence

Write to: 

The Home Office
Coroners Section - Exhumation Applications
5th Floor, Allington Towers
19 Allington Street
London SW1E 5EB

Once the application form has been completed Section A needs to be sent to the relevant Burial Authority/Council that administers the cemetery where the deceased is buried. They will then make investigation in their statutory records to ensure details are correct and there are no objections to the exhumation taking place in their cemetery.

The form will then be signed by the cemetery manager and will be forwarded onto the Home Office.

There is no fee from the Home Office for issuing a licence.

The licence will, if this has been requested, normally be sent to the person applying for the exhumation.

Please Note: The Home Office will only accept original signatures, therefore, the form cannot be submitted via Email.

What Happens Next?

Once you have obtained all the licences you will need forward these onto the burial authority where the deceased is interred.

A copy of the Home Office Licence will be automatically sent to the areas Environmental Health Department, so they can ensure the safety of public health. They will also be in attendance on the day of exhumation along with the funeral directors and Manager of the Cemetery. If a Bishops Faculty is issued then they will also contact the Environmental Health Department.

Arrangements can then be made to carry out the exhumation and ensure that if any of the licences have special conditions listed these are fully considered.

Contact should also be made with all those involved with the pending exhumation, this maybe the funeral director, the burial authorities, a minister of religion for the re-interment and other family members to ensure that all conditions of the licence(s), and family wishes are adhered to.

There is normally some discussion between all attending parties about how the exhumation will take place and what equipment is required.

Normally exhumations take place early in the morning to ensure maximum privacy.

As soon as reasonably practical after any disinterment, the officer of the burial authority will complete the statutory records.


It is very difficult to give precise details, all exhumations, applications and requests are dealt with individually and further detailed information can be obtained by using the contact details below.

Contact information

Send us a message
0161 342 4461
0161 342 2140
Registrar's Office
Dukinfield Cemetery and Crematorium
Hall Green Road
SK16 4EP
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