Guidance from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) for clerks who operate cemeteries

19 March 2020

In the light of the latest guidance on social distancing, the MoJ casework team is making changes to its business practices.

  • First – it will be prioritising any exhumation applications which are required to facilitate new burials (as opposed to facilitating only the disturbance of existing remains). Where this is the case, they would be grateful if burial authorities could indicate it clearly on the application form.
  • More generally, although it will continue to accept and process postal applications for exhumation licences, this will unavoidably take longer than our standard turnaround time while the revised working practices are in place.
  • It would therefore be grateful if, wherever possible, applications could be submitted electronically to [email protected] If applicants have difficulty scanning completed applications (for electronic transmission), it will also accept photos uploaded into, or attached to, an email, provided that all the details in the application form are legible.
  • As paper licences are not required in order for an exhumation to proceed, it will not be issuing these for the duration of the revised procedures. Instead, all licences will be issued electronically to the relevant burial authority. It will also send an electronic copy to the bereaved family (where they are the applicant) and it would therefore be grateful if burial authorities could ask families to include an email address on the application form for this purpose. If no email address is provided, it will send the licence to the burial authority only and will indicate that it has not been possible to copy it to the applicant.
  • The MoJ believes that these measures will enable it to continue to deliver its services as effectively as possible in the circumstances resulting from the pandemic, and officials are very grateful for your patience and co-operation during this exceptional period. The situation remains under review and the MoJ will update its advice if further changes become necessary.

If there are any queries please email them to [email protected]

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