Before a burial may take place in a churchyard, the Incumbent or minister conducting the service must be satisfied that a ‘certificate of disposal’ of the body (“the green form”) has been issued by the registrar of births and deaths, or a corresponding order made by the coroner (see section 1 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1926). The certificate (or coroner’s order) should be produced to the incumbent before the burial. Clergy should ensure that their churchwardens are also aware of the need for the green form to be produced before the burial, so that the requirement is not overlooked if the regular parish clergy are unavailable for any reason.
Clergy and others (such as readers) taking a burial service are recommended to have in place a requirement that the green form should be produced to them at least 48 hours before a burial is scheduled to take place, to avoid any last-minute misunderstandings.
If the incumbent is satisfied by a written declaration that the certificate or order has been issued, but has been left behind or mislaid, the burial may proceed. However, the incumbent must obtain an undertaking that the missing certificate or order will be produced as soon as possible.
Before a burial is arranged, the bereaved family should consider the Chancellor’s guidance notes on churchyard matters: