Home and Private Burials

  • There is no law against burial on private land.
  • No planning or other consent is required from this Authority, but the manner of the burial must not cause a statutory or other nuisance.
  • Planning permission may be needed for memorial structures.
  • If any more than a couple of bodies are buried, this could be construed as change of use by the planning department and actually a 'graveyard' for which permission would need to be obtained.
  • The Environment Agency (tel 08708 506506) must be informed, in case there is a watercourse nearby that could be polluted. The Environment Agency is likely to require an earth burial to have 100m separation from a borehole, well or spring.
  • The Department of the Environment (Hydrological Division, 01473 727712) have no objections but have 3 standards which must be observed: (i) Not within 10m of drain, ditch or watercourse. (ii) Not within 50m of a borehole or well (iii) Not in waterlogged ground
  • Ministry of Justice guidelines regarding a proper burial must be followed. Burials must be carried out with due regard to public decency and the body transported and offered to the ground in a coffin or shroud. Bodies must have at least 3ft of soil over them unless other special precautions such as provision of a sealed vault have been made.
  • Ideally the local Environmental Health Officer should be consulted to ensure that no public health risk will be created during the transportation and storage of the body. If there are any infectious disease concerns, the appropriate steps must be taken.
  • Marking the spot and detailing the location on the house deeds should reduce the potential for the next owners finding human remains in the garden and calling the police. There is also an implied duty to record any burial on the deeds under the Registration of Burials Act 1864.
  • Checks must be made to ascertain whether there is any covenant on the property preventing a burial taking place and that no bye law is being broken
  • Part B of the certificate issued by the Registrar of Births and Deaths (or Coroner) permitting burial to proceed must be retained with the house deeds. The burial details must be recorded on Part C the Certificate and that part returned to the Registrar as procedure dictates.
  • There is a duty to notify the Authority under the Burial Laws Amendment Act 1870. A request for the presentation of all documentation required under law to permit the burial to take place may be made.
  • It is wise to inform the police so they can be satisfied no offence is being committed.
  • There are practical concerns with regard the future. For example: who would want to buy a property with a body in the garden. A future owner might remove the body against the family's wishes.
  • If the body needs to be moved in the future, a Ministry of Justice Licence would be required.
  • Such burials are not registered on the Local Land Charges Register, but it might be possible to set up an arrangement with the Registrar of Births and Deaths whereby the Local Land Charges staff are informed of any case where a body is buried outside a regularised graveyard or cemetery so that an 'Information Only' entry can be made in the register.
ID: 155, revised 22/02/2023