Cemeteries legislation

The Cemeteries Act 1952 and Cemeteries Regulations 1967 are the legislation that regulates burials within public cemeteries and burials outside of cemeteries in the Northern Territory.

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Contact the Department if you want information about the process to arrange to bury a deceased loved one outside a cemetery. You can also contact the office located in your region for assistance:

Office Contact details
Legislation and Policy Unit, Darwin Burials@nt.gov.au
(08) 8999 8450
Arnhem Regional Office, Nhulunbuy (08) 8987 0536
Barkly Regional Office, Tennant Creek (08) 8962 4434
Big Rivers Regional Office, Katherine (08) 8973 8518
Central Australia Regional Office, Alice Springs (08) 8951 5781
Top End Office, Darwin (08) 8999 5430  

Cemeteries legislation

Under section 21 of the Cemeteries Act 1952, the Minister for Local Government can give written consent for a deceased person to be buried at a location outside a cemetery.

A burial outside a cemetery includes burials on Aboriginal land, pastoral properties and other locations that are not declared cemeteries.

Application process

Call or email the Department to apply for a burial outside a cemetery.

The Department requires applicants to provide certain information before consent for a burial outside a cemetery can be granted. Please email burials@nt.gov.au or use the contact details above if you have any questions or need assistance in gathering the required information.

This information includes all of the following:

  • a copy of the doctor’s certificate or the coroner’s certificate for the deceased person
  • consent from the land owner or leaseholder – if located on Aboriginal land, the Department can assist you by contacting the land council
  • GPS coordinates or a map which shows the burial site.

You will need to confirm all of the following information about the burial site to ensure that public health and the environment is protected:

  • the block of land for the proposed burial is at least 5 hectares in size
  • the burial site will not affect any watercourse (e.g. a creek) or coastline
  • the burial site is not within 100 metres of a bore or other source for drinking water and is not next to any septic system outfall
  • the burial site is not adjacent to any building where people live or work.

On 27 November 2019, the proposed Burial and Cremation Bill 2019 PDF (536.4 KB) was withdrawn from Parliament. The department will continue discussions with stakeholders to listen to feedback and ensure further understanding.

The intent of the planned Bill included supporting traditional burials, allowing Aboriginal organisations and landowners to manage their own cemeteries, formalising kinship and cultural decision making and ensuring record keeping for future generations.

Refer to the FAQ sheet PDF (131.3 KB) for more information about the current law and withdrawn Bill in relation to burials outside cemeteries.


Last updated: 15 April 2021

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