Information for Funeral Directors for scheduling services at Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery, our nation’s most hallowed ground, is the final resting place for more than 400,000 active duty service members, veterans and their families. This historic cemetery bears witness to our American heritage and the military service and sacrifice of men and women in uniform throughout our 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. We believe that caring for our nation's heroes and their families during their time of need is a sacred duty entrusted to us. Our nation's veterans are laid to rest with dignity and honor by a compassionate and dedicated work force.
Understanding Arlington's scheduling process
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 and the length of time it takes for scheduling is typically several weeks to several months and depends on many factors, including the family's ability to provide all documents to verify eligibility, any special requests, requests for full military honors (which can take take longer to schedule than standard military honors because of additional military resources such as escorts and the caisson), requests for one of the chapels located on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, etc.
We receive approximately 75 calls a day from funeral directors and families requesting a service at Arlington. Before a service can be scheduled, all documentation needs to be submitted and reviewed by Arlington staff to establish and confirm eligibility.
DD214 or equivalent service documentation showing honorable discharge and active duty service (Mandatory for a veteran; second interment of spouse does not require this if ANC can verify the veteran's eligibility from historic archived records)
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 additional documents will be required for signature before the service can take place.
Arlington National Cemetery schedules services based on available cemetery and military resources. On average, Arlington National Cemetery conducts between 27 and 30 funeral services each week day, eight of which are services with full military honors. 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. On average, the cemetery conducts between 6 and 8 services on Saturdays.
Requests for chapel services can extend the wait time by two months for a service at Arlington National Cemetery. Only four out of the 27-30 services conducted each week day can have a service at a chapel.To reduce the wait time in the scheduling process, we recommend requesting the use of the chapel only if a funeral service has not been conducted.
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 the service member is eligible for burial at Arlington. Any documents requested by the cemetery staff can be e-mailed 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.
Tips for scheduling services at Arlington National Cemetery
Provide the cemetery with multiple ways to contact the funeral home and Primary Next of Kin to help ensure the cemetery reaches someone when the scheduler first calls to schedule. An e-mail address is required for the PNOK. Only the PNOK or PADD is authorized to sign the required documents.
If the family is requesting a specific date for their service after their loved one has passed, we recommend contacting Arlington four months prior to the desired interment date.
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, section, column and niche 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.
End-of-Life Planning: Establishing the Person Authorized to Direct Disposition (PADD)
End-of-Life planning is helpful for friends and family to understand your interment wishes. Generally speaking, the Primary Next-of-Kin is the person who is responsible for carrying out your final wishes, unless you establish the Person Authorized to Direct Disposition or PADD. PADD refers to the legal representative of the Primary Next-of-Kin. If you want someone other than the Primary Next-of-Kin to handle funeral arrangements at Arlington National Cemetery, you will need to establish clear guidance in your will.
The Executor of the estate has the authority to handle property, but if you want your Executor to handle funeral arrangements, you will need to give them specific authority as the PADD. A statement in a will that is as simple as: “I want to be cremated and buried at Arlington National Cemetery if I am eligible, and want the Executor to handle the arrangements,” will grant authority to the Executor as the PADD – this supersedes the rights of the spouse and adult children.
Arlington National Cemetery is required to abide by Department of Defense policy (DoD Instruction 1300.18) when there is no living legal spouse or any other legal written instruction regarding final disposition of the remains.
Important Information for scheduling services for cremated remains
Arlington National Cemetery requires certification of 100% of cremated remains and a cremated remains certificate. We support the industry best practices of including 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 9x9x9 inches (does not include 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 for scheduling services for casketed remains: Arlington National Cemetery will request 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 the day of the service.