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Exhumations happen very rarely. They cannot go ahead without having the necessary legal authorisation. There is no specific legislation or precise guidance for exhumation in Scotland. The current process to exhume human remains, in Scotland, is cumbersome as well as costly and time consuming for all concerned.

The current procedure operated by East Ayrshire Council, and most other authorities in Scotland, for the exhumation of human remains is as follows:

  • Next of kin will ask the cemetery administrator if it is feasible for the exhumation to be carried out
  • Cemetery administrator will obtain all the relevant details from the next of kin and advise if it feasible for the exhumation to be carried out
  • Next of kin will have to contact their solicitor to petition the Sheriff to grant a licence to exhume
  • Solicitor then contacts the cemetery administrator to confirm that Deceased is buried in the cemetery
  • Cemetery administrator will confirm the section, lair number and the owner of the exclusive rights of burial for that lair
  • Cemetery administrator will confirm if the body was the last burial in the lair. If the exhumation does not relate to the last interment then additional exhumation licences will be required to legally disinter those buried above the deceased to whom the initial enquiry refers
  • Solicitor will ask the cemetery administrator for a Feasibility Certificate. The Feasibility Certificate contains information regarding the lair number, the lair owner and who is interred in the grave
  • Solicitor will petition the Sheriff for a licence to exhume the body and stating where the body is to be re-interred
  • Sheriff will then issue a Warrant to Disinter/Re-inter. The cemetery administrator will now be required to report back to the Sheriff Quam Primum following the exhumation and re-interment

Contact Information

Bereavement Services
Western Road Depot
Western Road
Telephone: 01563 554775
Telephone: 01563 554776