Burials on private land

There is no law against burial on private land but you should consider the following points.

Burials on your property

Points to consider: 

  • You should be the owner of the land, or have the owner’s permission, preferably in writing.
  • You should check with a solicitor that there is no covenant for the property precluding burials from taking place.
  • You should inform your mortgage company if they still have an interest in the property.
  • You should inform the police so that they can be satisfied that no offence has been committed.
  • The precise location of the grave should be marked on the deeds to reduce the complication of police involvement if human remains are found in the future.
  • You can request a restrictive covenant to ensure that future owners of the property cannot remove the body, and that you can retain a right of access to visit the grave, but this may cause problems with future sales of the property.
  • Prior to burial, the death needs to be registered with the local Registrar of births, deaths and marriages. Following the burial, the certificate must be returned to them within 96 hours.
  • You should ask for advice from our Environmental Health Officer if there are infectious disease concerns.
  • You should record the details of the burial in a burial register. This does not need to be a special book, but can be a simple document that records all the details of the deceased and the date of burial, together with a plan showing the location of the grave within the property. It is advisable to keep this with the deeds to the property.
  • Planning permission may be needed from us if you want to place a memorial.
  • The Environment Agency have published guidelines for home burials requiring the following:
    • The site should be more than 30 metres from any spring or any running or standing water.
    • It should also be more than 10 metres from any ‘dry’ ditch or field drain.
    • The site should be at least 50 metres away from any well, borehole or spring that supplies water for any use. If you are not sure where these are, the Environment Agency or our Environmental Health Officers will be able to advise you.
    • When preparing the grave, make sure there is no standing water when it is first dug and that the grave is not dug in very sandy soil.
    • There should be at least one metre of soil above and below the body after burial.
  • If you can conform to the above requirements you do not need to contact the Environment Agency.
  • Advice from our planning department should be sought if it is planned to bury more than one person as this may be regarded as a “change of use” by planners from a garden to a graveyard.
  • If the body needs to be moved in the future, a Ministry of Justice licence would be required.

The Natural Death Centre produces a handbook which may be useful for further information.



Updated: 1 December 2017