Information for Funeral Directors
Arlington National Cemetery, our nation’s most hallowed ground, is the final resting place for nearly 400,000 active duty service members, veterans and their families. This historic cemetery bears witness to American heritage and the military service and sacrifice of men and women in uniform throughout the nation’s history. Families come from all over the country to bury their loved ones at Arlington National Cemetery. They come to Arlington because of the rich history of military honors that makes the service so special. The nation's veterans are laid to rest with dignity and honor by a compassionate and dedicated work force. We believe that caring for our nation's heroes and their families during their time of need is a sacred duty entrusted to us.
On average, Arlington National Cemetery conducts between 27 and 30 funeral services each week day, eight of which are services with military funeral honors with escort. There are up to six committal services an hour, five times a day. Saturday services are also available for placements and services for cremated remains that do not require military honors or military chaplain support. The cemetery generally conducts between six and eight services on Saturdays.
Understanding Arlington's Scheduling Process
Arlington National Cemetery receives approximately 75 calls per day from funeral directors and families requesting a service. Before a service can be scheduled, all documentation needs to be submitted and reviewed by Arlington staff to establish and confirm eligibility.
Scheduling military funeral services at ANC is primarily influenced by three factors: the type of remains, military resources available and preferences of the individual family. Given the availability of military personnel for funeral honors support, coupled with an operational tempo of up to 30 funeral services per day, wait times to schedule the most resource-intensive services at ANC have increased. The only exception is for those current-conflict active duty service members killed in action or who died of wounds. Those burials can be accommodated within two weeks of the date of death.
Services are scheduled in the order that they are received and 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. ANC understands the health and safety factors involved in storing casketed remains, as well as the cost to families; these services 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, wait times are as long as nine to eleven months for a service requiring military funeral honors with funeral escort, and up to seven to eight months for a military funeral honors service without funeral escort, or for a dependent honors service.
Requests for chapel services can extend the wait time by two months. Only four of the 27-30 services conducted each week day can have a service at a chapel. To reduce the wait time, we recommend requesting the use of the chapel only if a funeral service has not already been conducted.
If an immediate burial is required, the Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration’s 138 national cemeteries and 115 state military cemeteries are wonderful alternatives which allow families to be closer for visitation and offer the same iconic look as ANC.
- DD214 or equivalent service documentation showing honorable discharge and active duty service. (Mandatory for a veteran; not required for the second interment of spouse if ANC can verify the veteran's eligibility from historic archived records.)
- Death certificate.
- 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).
- Other documents, as requested by the cemetery.
When the family or funeral home makes the first call to the customer service center at 1-877-907-8585, they are given a case number for tracking purposes and are asked to e-mail all required documents for review. The cemetery staff will need to establish and confirm that the service member is eligible for burial at Arlington. Documents can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Tips for Scheduling Services
- Provide the cemetery with multiple ways to contact the funeral home and the PNOK. An e-mail address is required for the PNOK. Only the PNOK or PADD is authorized to sign the required documents.
- Have all of the required documentation together before you call to schedule.
- If the decedent is being interred with someone already at Arlington National Cemetery, please provide the section and grave number for in-ground gravesites and court, or section, column and niche numbers for above-ground interments, if known.
- Consider a Saturday service for placements or services for cremated remains that do not require military honors or military chaplain support.
Important Information: Cremated Remains
Arlington National Cemetery requires certification of 100% of cremated remains and a cremated remains certificate. We support industry best practices of providing the cremation identification number, which is included with the remains and annotated on the cremation certificate. Arlington does not accept cremated remains by mail.
Urns should be no larger than 9" x 9" x 9" (not including companion urns). If the urn purchased by the family exceeds this size, please inform ANC staff prior to the interment date.
Saturday services are available for placements and services for cremated remains that do not require military honors or military chaplain support.
Important Information: Casketed Remains
Arlington National Cemetery will request that the funeral home provide additional information regarding unusually heavy caskets, oversize caskets or vaults, or any other item which could impact the handling of the remains on the day of the service.