Frequently Asked Questions
Is my loved one eligible for burial or inurnment at Arlington National Cemetery?
Arlington National Cemetery's eligibility requirements for burial and inurnment are different from other national cemeteries that are maintained by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Eligibility for in-ground burial at Arlington National Cemetery is the most stringent of all U.S. national cemeteries. However, most veterans who have at least one day of active service (other than for training) and an honorable discharge are eligible for above-ground inurnment. Eligibility is determined at the time of need.
► More information about eligibility
How do I schedule a funeral service?
The process to schedule a burial at Arlington National Cemetery can be complex, and we handle each family's request individually with the utmost care and professionalism. Each request is unique. The length of time it takes for scheduling depends on many factors, including the family's ability to provide all documents to verify, the type of remains, the military resources available and any special requests (such as requests for the chapel located on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall).
First, the family or funeral home should call ANC’s customer service center at 877-907-8585. They will then be given a case number for tracking purposes and asked to email or fax all required documents for review. The cemetery staff will need to establish and confirm that the service member is eligible for burial at Arlington. We recommend that you have all of the required documentation together before you call to schedule the service. Any documents requested by cemetery staff can be emailed to email@example.com and must include the case number provided by the customer service center. Please Note: Arlington National Cemetery will not respond to other inquiries via this email box.
► More information about scheduling a service
What documents are required?
The required documents are:
• DD214 (or service equivalent), with an honorable character of service, to establish eligibility for the eligible service member.
• Death certificate, and cremation certificate, if applicable.
• Succession documents for the person authorized to direct disposition (PADD) to act on behalf of the primary next of kin (PNOK), if applicable. Only the PNOK or PADD can sign the required documents.
• Unmarried adult dependents require two additional documents: A) a notarized statement from an individual who has direct knowledge as to the marital status and degree of dependency of the deceased person, the name of the decedent's parent, and the military service from which the burial is being requested; and B) a certificate from the attending physician regarding the nature and duration of the dependent's physical and/or mental disability.
• Families will be required to validate that an urn contains 100 percent of the decedent's remains received from the crematorium or funeral home before Arlington National Cemetery conducts the burial service.
It is the family's responsibility to provide the service member's eligibility documents. A service will not be scheduled until all required documents are received. Click here for instructions on how to make an emergency records request.
► More information about required documents
How long is the wait time for a service?
Scheduling military funeral services at ANC is primarily influenced by three factors: the type of remains, military resources available and the preferences of the individual family. We strive to communicate effectively with families throughout each step of the process, in order to help them understand the complexities of wait times and their options for scheduling a service.
The limited availability of military personnel for funeral honors support, coupled with an operational tempo of up to 30 funeral services per day, means that the wait time to schedule the most resource-intensive services at ANC (such as military honors services with funeral escort) has increased.
Services are scheduled in the order that they are received. They are then placed into a queue based upon the status of the deceased (active duty or veteran) and the nature of the remains (casketed or cremated).
Active duty deaths and casketed remains are prioritized in the scheduling process. Burials for current-conflict, active-duty service members killed in action or who died of wounds can be accommodated within two weeks of the date of death. Additionally, ANC prioritizes casketed remains due to the health and safety factors involved in storing these remains, as well as the cost to families. Services for casketed remains are generally scheduled within three weeks of receiving the request for burial. The service takes place when the military funeral honors for which the veteran is eligible are available.
For cremated remains, once documents are received, you can anticipate being contacted by an Interment Services representative to initiate the scheduling process between 15 and 16 months from the date the case was initiated. This applies to services with all types of honors.
► More information about wait times
What are my options if I am concerned about the long wait time to schedule a burial at ANC?
Options include reducing military support or the level of honors rendered. However, ANC is one of many beautiful options for families to consider when laying their loved one to rest. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Cemetery Administration maintains 87 national cemeteries in 42 states and Puerto Rico that are open for first interment or inurnments. Use our Cemetery Locator Map to find a VA cemetery near you.
What happens at a typical service? What types of military honors are available?
Please see the following pages for detailed information:
► Order of events at an ANC funeral service
► Military funeral honors
Does Arlington National Cemetery provide transportation for funeral attendees?
Arlington National Cemetery does not provide transportation to funerals. Attendees must provide their own transportation.
Can I order a particular type of headstone?
The U.S. government will provide, at no cost to the estate of the deceased, an upright, white marble headstone or white marble niche cover. Arlington National Cemetery staff will place the order, which goes to the National Cemetery Administration (part of the Department of Veterans Affairs). The order for the headstone or niche cover will include the appropriate inscription and choice of an optional emblem. The next of kin will review the proposed headstone or niche cover text template prior to the date of interment, and the template will be finalized with cemetery staff prior to or on the day of the interment.
Arlington National Cemetery no longer accepts requests for new private (e.g. not government-provided) headstone markers, due to extremely limited space and interment challenges such as growth of trees, landscape and maintenance provisions, and safety concerns for families and staff.
► More information about headstones and niche covers
How can I find a grave or visit a loved one’s place of burial or inurnment?
To locate a grave or place of inurnment, download our ANC Explorer app. If visiting in person, you may also inquire with the staff at the Welcome Center desk.
► More information about visiting a gravesite
What are your policies on gravesite floral tributes and wreaths?
• Fresh cut flowers may be placed on graves at any time. ANC provides portable temporary cones for flowers that the public may use. These cones can be found at locations throughout the cemetery.
• Artificial flowers may be placed on gravesites from October 10 through April 15.
• Permanent flower containers and planting of flowers and shrubs are prohibited.
► More information on floral tributes and wreaths