You will need lawful permission to exhume a body and it can be a long, complicated and traumatic pocess.

What is an exhumation

Exhumation means the removal of a body or cremated human remains from the ground.  It also covers the disturbance of remains within a grave, particularly when a grave is re-opened for burial. 

It is unlawful to disturb any human remains (this includes cremated remains) without getting lawful permissions.

Exhumation is traumatic for all those involved and should only be considered after carefully thinking through the whole process and getting as much information as possible.  It is also important discuss the implications with other members of your family.

Permissions needed for an exhumation


The authorisation needed depends on whether the land where the human remains are is consecrated or unconsecrated.  The term "consecrated" means dedicated to the service of God according to the rites of the Church of England.  A Bishop of the Church of England carries out consecration of land.

You should contact us whether your plot is consecrated or unconsecrated.

If it is consecrated ground you will need to apply for a Bishops Faculty.

If it is not consecrated (some parts of the Lawn Cemetery have never been consecrated including the cremated remains and Islamic Faith sections) you and the council will need to apply for an Exhumation Licence from the Ministry of Justice.


You will need to conatct us for the relevant forms to apply for consents and licences. You will then need to complete these applications and return them to us.

The exhumation

Once you have applied for the correct authorisation, consent and licences the exhumation can be arranged.

There may be special conditions listed in the license which must also be considered.

The licence will be sent to our Environmental Health Department, so they can ensure the safety of public health.

Exhumations are generally carried out early in the morning to ensure maximum privacy.

An Environmental Health Officer will attend along with a Funeral Director and Council Bereavement Services staff. 

The cost of an exhumation

The cost of an exhumation can be large so it is important to consider this. 

Remember to include:

  • Memorial removal costs
  • Bishop's Faculty fees (if on consecrated ground)
  • Funeral director's charges, including the cost of a new coffin or cremated remains casket
  • Cemetery fees and charges for exhumation and re-interment

Contact Bereavement Services

We are responsible for the management of cemeteries, grounds maintenance, burial provision and burial registration in Welwyn Hatfield.

Address: Oak Hill Lawn Cemetery and Crematorium
South Way
AL10 8HS

Telephone: 01707 357 000