A Guide to Burial at Arlington National Cemetery
(Most Frequently Asked Questions about Arlington
National Cemetery Interments)
- Question: What documents
do I need to provide verification of eligibility for inurnment of
ashes in the Columbarium?
Answer: For honorably discharged veterans, a copy of the
last discharge document will be required. For those who are serving
on active duty, an active duty statement will be required. For those
who are retired from active duty, no document will be required unless
your military retirement has been combined with your civil service
retirement-a discharge document will be required. For those who are
retired from the Reserves, a copy of the last discharge document which
describes the active service (other than for training) performed will
- Question: What documents
do I need to provide verification of eligibility for interment (ground
Answer: For decorated honorably discharged veterans, a copy
of the last discharge document and a copy of the order awarding the
decoration-if the decoration is not listed on the discharge document
is required. For former prisoners of war, a copy of the last
discharge document and an official document that confirms the former
POW status. For active duty personnel, an active duty statement is
required. For veterans retired from active duty, no documentation
is required unless your military retirement has been combined with
your civil service retirement-a copy of your retirement order and
last discharge document is required. For veterans retired from the
Reserves, a copy of a discharge document that verifies active military
service performed (other than for training). For those veterans who
have held Executive Level I and II positions in the federal government
and/or federal elective office, a copy of the last discharge document
- Question: What must I
do to make arrangements for the interment or inurnment of myself,
my spouse, or my dependent?
Answer: We do not make prearrangements. However, upon the
first demise the surviving spouse or parent of the child should go
to the local funeral home to make arrangements for any desired funeral
services in your area. While there, you can have the funeral director
telephone the Interment Services Branch at Arlington National Cemetery
to make burial arrangements. The telephone number is (703) 607-8585.
Any required documents (see preceding paragraphs) should be provided
to the funeral director to fax to the cemetery staff. The fax number
is (703) 607-8583.
- Question: How does the
casket or urn get to Arlington National Cemetery from where I live?
Answer: Generally, funeral directors arrange for the shipment
of casketed remains through a commercial airline. Your local funeral
director will contact a funeral home in the Washington, DC metropolitan
area to arrange for the pickup of the casket at the airport. The receiving
funeral home will store the casket until the day of the scheduled
service. The casket will then be taken to the cemetery for the interment
service by the receiving funeral home. All costs associated with the
shipping and storage of the remains are incurred by the next-of-kin.
For active duty personnel only, costs incurred are borne by the appropriate
military branch of service. For cremated remains, the urn can be hand
carried or shipped to a local funeral director for delivery to Arlington
on the day of the service or up to three working days prior to the
- Question: What is the
cost to the family to have a family member interred in Arlington National
Answer: There is no charge for the services provided by the
cemetery. However if the next-of-kin desires a private monument or
a vault in lieu of a government headstone or graveliner, the family
of the deceased incurs the costs associated with the private monument
or vault. Arrangements for the private monument and/or the vault are
the responsibility of the next-of-kin. There is no charge for a grave,
for the digging of the grave, for the setup of the gravesite, or for
the closing of the grave. There is no charge for the government headstone
- Question: How do I arrange
for the military honors, the chapel, a chaplain, or pall bearers?
Answer: The cemetery staff will advise
the next-of-kin or funeral director of the available military honors
and body bearers (pall bearers) and will schedule them for the service.
When requested, the cemetery staff will provide a military chaplain
and will schedule the chapel. The next-of-kin or funeral director
are not required to make these arrangements at Arlington.
- Question: What honors
are provided at Arlington National Cemetery for the interment or inurnment
services and military honors are provided on a first-come, first-served
basis. In brief, the following is available but can be modified if
the family does not desire part or all of the honors:
- Dependents with no military service - The appropriate military
branch of service will provide body (pall) bearers. A military
chaplain will be scheduled, if requested, or the family minister
may be provided by the next-of-kin or funeral director.
- Enlisted Personnel - Standard graveside honors will be provided
by the appropriate military branch of service. The honors and
support will include body bearers (pall bearers), firing party,
and a bugler. The cemetery staff will schedule the honors and
support. A military chaplain will be scheduled, when requested,
or the family minister may be provided by the next-of-kin or funeral
- Officers (Commissioned and Warrant) - In addition to the standard
graveside honors and support provided for enlisted personnel,
the caisson, band, and escort troops will be scheduled by the
cemetery staff, when requested. For Army and Marine 0-6 and higher,
the riderless horse is used. For Flag Officers (Navy, Coast Guard,
and Marines), the Minute Guns are provided. For Flag Officers
(Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and Marines), the Gun Salute is provided.
- Question: What is a graveliner?
Answer: A graveliner is a concrete container in which the
casket is lowered. It is used by the government for grounds maintenance
purposes in that it provides for less sinkage of the soil which compacts
significantly during the first year after the burial. The graveliner
has two holes in the bottom which are approximately the size of a
Back to top
- Question: If my spouse
or dependent child should predecease me, can they be buried before
I am buried?
Answer: Yes. However, you as the qualifying veteran will
be required to sign a statement that you will be interred/inurned
in the same grave/niche upon your demise.
- Question: If my first
spouse is interred/inurned in Arlington National Cemetery and I remarry,
can my second spouse also be interred/inurned in the same grave/niche
to be occupied by me?
Answer: Yes, if you are the qualifying veteran. The qualifying
veteran is the person on whose military service the eligibility for
the first interment/inurnment is based. If you should predecease your
second spouse, your second spouse will retain eligibility for interment/inurnment
as long as the second spouse remains unmarried.
- Question: Can I have
a chapel service at Fort Myer?
Answer: Yes. Chapel services, if requested, will be scheduled
by the cemetery staff at the time the burial arrangements are completed.
The chapel is scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis. The chapel
service is conducted prior to going to the grave/niche for the interment/inurnment.
- Question: Can we use
our family minister for the chapel service and at the gravesite?
Answer: Yes. However, your family minister must keep
the service with the scheduled time frames in order to avoid adversely
affecting the start of the next chapel service. If a long chapel service
is anticipated, it should be conducted in the family church or at
the funeral home.
- Question: If I am cremated,
can I still be buried in the ground?
Answer: Yes. If you are eligible for interment (ground
burial), the remains may be casketed or cremated.
- Question: If I am cremated,
what military honors are provided.
Answer: There is no distinction in the military honors provided
for a casketed or a cremated remains.
- Question: If I am cremated,
can my next-of-kin arrange for the interment/inurnment without using
the funeral home?
Answer: Yes. Your next-of-kin or personal representative
can telephone the Interment Services Office directly on telephone
number (703) 607-8585 for scheduling the service.
- Question: Is there a
special container required for interment or inurnment or a cremated
Answer: No. The heavy plastic container provided
by most crematories is acceptable for ground burial or for inurnment
in the Columbarium. Urns being placed in the Columbarium should be
of a size that will fit into the dimensions of 11" wide, 14"
high, and 19" deep.
- Question: What is needed
on the day of the service?
Answer: Family and friends of the deceased should
arrive at the cemetery in their private vehicles or in vehicles provided
by the funeral home. These vehicles will be needed to go to the gravesite
or the Columbarium for the services. The cemetery does not provide
transportation. For interment or inurnment of cremated remains, you
should arrive with the urn, a cremation certificate (or death certificate),
and a burial flag if military honors are being provided to the veteran.
For casketed remains, the funeral home will provide the hearse, the
casketed remains (flag draped, if a veteran), and a transfer permit
(if crossing state lines).
- Question: How long is
the wait until the service is conducted?
Answer: Approximately two weeks for inurnment in
the Columbarium. For interment in the ground, an average of 5 to 7
workdays (Monday thru Friday, except federal holidays) should be anticipated.
It should be noted that the chapel and military honors to be provided
generally cause the greater delay in scheduling the service for interments.
Back to top