Key messages

  • An exhumation licence is required whenever previously interred remains are to be disturbed by opening or moving the coffin, except as otherwise provided for in the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2003.
  • Applicants should allow at least six months for consideration of an application for an exhumation licence.

Applying for an exhumation licence under s. 156 of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2003 can be a complex and lengthy process.

The department recommends that applicants start planning early for the proposed exhumation and allow at least six months for their application to be considered.

If an applicant anticipates that there might be objections to the proposed exhumation within the deceased's family, the applicant needs to be prepared for the possibility that the application will be refused, or that it will be granted subject to the condition that no exhumation occurs within 60 calendar days of the date of the issue of the licence.

Application form

To apply for an exhumation licence, the Application to Secretary for exhumation licence (Form 5) must be completed.

Form 5 is prescribed under the Cemeteries and Crematoria Regulations 2015. The form can be completed by hand or completed online and printed for signature.

Applicants are encouraged to use the Making an application for an exhumation licence fact sheet and checklist to ensure they submit a complete application. The checklist provides information about required supporting documentation that must be submitted with the application form.

Submitting an incomplete application will cause delays in the processing of the application and may, at the department's discretion, result in the return of the application in full for completion.

Note: Applications that are hand-delivered to the department will not be reviewed or assessed on-the-spot and will not be given priority over applications received by post.

Application fee

An exhumation licence application must be accompanied by the prescribed application fee: $177.70

Payment of the prescribed application fee is to be made by cheque or money order made out to the Department of Health and Human Services. Please note that no refund is payable if the application for an exhumation licence is not granted.