When can a body be exhumed?

Verified 04 July 2022 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

Exhumation is the removal of a coffin or the remains of the deceased from a pit or vault. It is subject to authorization. It may be requested by the family of the deceased or it may take place at the initiative of the City Council, Social Security or the judiciary.

Why can we ask for an exhumation?

You can request an exhumation to move the body of a relative from one cemetery to another, especially to bring the deceased closer to your family's place of residence.

Exhumation is also possible to carry out a reduction or reunion of bodies. It involves collecting the mortuary remains in a reduction coffin or a bone box and placing them in the same grave.

Who can ask for exhumation?

Only the next of kin can ask for it or the person commissioned by the parent.

It may in particular be a funeral business.

The applicant's next of kin can be defined as:

  1. Unseparated spouse (widower/widow)
  2. Children of the deceased
  3. Parents
  4. Siblings

In case of conflict, for example between parents of the same degreeIt is up to the court to decide.

Who shall I contact

Who should I ask for the exhumation authorization from?

Permission must be sought from the mayor of the commune where the exhumation is to take place.

Who shall I contact

Is there a deadline for an exhumation?

Authorization for exhumation may be granted irrespective of the date of death and burial.

However, if the deceased had a contagious disease at the time of death, you can only request exhumation one year after the date of death.

Body shrinkage is permitted only if the body or bodies have been buried for at least 5 years.

What documents should be provided for the application?

The requesting parent must provide the following documents:

  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of domicile
  • Proof that he is the next of kin of the deceased

Is there a need for a parent?

The exhumation is carried out in the presence of a relative or a person designated by the family.

For example, a business of a funeral home, an executor, or another mandated family member.

If the parent or the person chosen by the family is not present at the time indicated, the operation does not take place.

Exhumation may occur in the following cases:

Why can exhumation be requested?

Accident at work In case of doubt as to the causal link between a CPAM: titleContent may request an exhumation for autopsy.

It may do so at the request of the rights holders of the victim or on its own initiative with their agreement.

Who reviews the exhumation request?

Accident at work The request for exhumation shall be addressed to the court in whose jurisdiction the exhumation took place.

Who shall I contact

Who pays for the exhumation costs?

The funeral operations are the responsibility of the CPAM: titleContent.

Why can exhumation be requested?

Any investigating or trial court may decide to exhume at the request of the public prosecutor's office or of the parties, or of its own motion.

Who pays for the exhumation costs?

The funeral operations are the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice.

Who can help me?

Find who can answer your questions in your region