Bereavement Services - Burial

Frequently Asked Questions for this Service

Question: What do I have to do if I want to apply for exhumation of a relative?

Answer: Exhumations occur for a number of reasons, including:

movement from the original grave to a subsequently acquired family plot in the same or other cemetery;
repatriation overseaslink to be buried along with other family;
transfer from one cemetery scheduled for development to another; or
court orders requiring further forensic examination.

It is an offence to exhume any human remains without first obtaining the necessary lawful permissions. Funeral directors can help in obtaining these.

A licence must be obtained from the Department of Constitutional Affairs (see related link). Exhumation licences will also contain certain conditions that have to be observed.
If the person is buried in Consecrated grounds, permission from the church must also be obtained.
An Environmental Health Officer must be present at the exhumation of a body to ensure that there is no threat to public health and to supervise the event to ensure that respect for the deceased person is maintained and that public health is protected. The Officer will also ensure that:

the correct grave is opened,
the exhumation commences as early as possible in the morning to ensure maximum privacy,
the plot is screened as appropriate for privacy,
health and safety of all workers is maintained e.g. protective clothing including masks and gloves, task lights and all other necessary equipment,
everyone present shows due respect to the deceased person and to adjoining graves,
the nameplate on the casket corresponds to that on the licence,
the new casket has been approved by the Environmental Health Officer,
all human remains and all the pieces of casket are placed in the new casket,
the new casket is properly sealed,
the area of exhumation is properly disinfected, and
satisfactory arrangements are in place for the onward transmission of the remains.
If the conditions of the licence cannot be met, or there are public health or decency concerns, the exhumation may not proceed.

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Question: What do I do if I cannot afford to pay for a funeral?

Answer: You can apply to social security for assistance with funeral costs. This is dependent on your circumstances, not those of the person that has died. Forms are available from the register office when you register the death, or you can follow the related link for further details.



- Related Link

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Question: Is cremation more expensive than burial?

Answer: Generally the cost of a grave is much higher than the fee charged for cremation. The funeral director's charges are much the same for both services. The only additional charge for cremation arises when the death has not been referred to the Coroner therefore fees to two doctors have to be paid for the necessary certificates. This does not apply to burial. With cremation there are no later costs for headstones, grave care etc., which arise with burial.

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