A Guide to Burial at Arlington National Cemetery
Eligibility for Interment (Ground Burial)
The persons specified below are eligible for ground burial in Arlington National Cemetery. The last period
of active duty of former members of the Armed Forces must have ended honorably. Interment may be casketed or cremated remains.
- Any active duty member of the Armed Forces (except those members serving on active duty for training only).
- Any veteran who is retired from active military service with the Armed Forces.
- Any veteran who is retired from the Reserves is eligible upon reaching age 60 and drawing retired pay; and
who served a period of active duty (other than for training).
- Any former member of the Armed Forces separated honorably prior to October 1, 1949 for medical reasons and
who was rated at 30% or greater disabled effective on the day of discharge.
- Any former member of the Armed Forces who has been awarded one of the following decorations:
- Medal of Honor
- Distinguished Service Cross (Navy Cross or Air Force Cross)
- Distinguished Service Medal
- Silver Star
- Purple Heart
- The President of the United States or any former President of the United States.
- Any former member of the Armed Forces who served on active duty (other than for training) and who held any
of the following positions:
- An elective office of the U.S. Government
- Office of the Chief Justice of the United States or of an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United
- An office listed, at the time the person held the position, in 5 USC 5312 or 5313 (Levels I and II of the Executive
- The chief of a mission who was at any time during his/her tenure classified in Class I under the provisions
of Section 411, Act of 13 August 1946, 60 Stat. 1002, as amended (22 USC 866) or as listed in State Department memorandum
dated March 21, 1988.
- Any former prisoner of war who, while a prisoner of war, served honorably in the active military, naval, or
air service, whose last period of military, naval or air service terminated honorably and who died on or after November 30,
- The spouse, widow or widower, minor child, or permanently dependent child, and certain unmarried adult children
of any of the above eligible veterans.
- The widow or widower of:
- a member of the Armed Forces who was lost or buried at sea or officially determined to be missing in action.
- a member of the Armed Forces who is interred in a US military cemetery overseas that is maintained by the American
Battle Monuments Commission.
- a member of the Armed Forces who is interred in Arlington National Cemetery as part of a group burial.
- The surviving spouse, minor child, or permanently dependent child of any person already buried in Arlington
- The parents of a minor child, or permanently dependent child whose remains, based on the eligibility of a parent,
are already buried in ANC. A spouse divorced from the primary eligible, or widowed and remarried, is not eligible for interment.
- Provided certain conditions are met, a former member of the Armed Forces may be buried in the same grave with
a close relative who is already buried and is the primary eligible.
Eligibility for Inurnment in the Columbarium
The following persons are eligible for inurnment in the Columbarium. The last period of active duty (other
than for training) of former members of the Armed Forces must have ended honorably.
- Any member of the Armed Forces who dies on active duty.
- Any former member of the Armed Forces who is retired from active duty.
- Any former member of the Armed Forces who served on active duty (other than for training).
- Any member of a Reserve Component of the Armed Forces who dies while he/she is..
- On active duty for training or performing full-time service under Title 32, United States Code.
- Performing authorized travel to or from that duty or service.
- On authorized inactive duty training including training performed as a member of the Army National Guard or
the Air National Guard (23 USC 502).
- Hospitalized or being treated at the expense of the United States for injury or disease incurred or contracted
while he/she is on that duty or service, performing that travel or inactive duty training, or undergoing that hospitalization
or treatment at the expense of the United States.
- Any member of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps of the Army, Navy, or Air Force whose death occurs while
- Attending an authorized training camp.
- On an authorized practice cruise.
- Performing authorized travel to or from that camp or cruise.
- Hospitalized or receiving treatment at the expense of the United States for injury or disease incurred while
attending camp or cruise, performing that travel, or receiving that hospitalization or treatment at the expense of the United
- Any citizen of the United States who, during any war in which the United States has been engaged, served in
the Armed Forces of any government allied with the United States during that war; whose last service ended honorably by death
or otherwise; and who was a citizen of the United States at the time of entry into that service and at the time of death.
- Certain commissioned officers of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (formerly United States
Coast and Geodetic Survey).
- Certain commissioned officers of the US Public Health Service.
- Spouses and minor and certain adult children of those eligible above.
- Any person eligible for ground burial.
- A former member of a group that has been certified as active military service for the purpose of receiving
VA benefits under the provisions of Section 401, Public Law 95-202.
Eligibility for Interment of Cremated Remains in Unmarked
Any veteran who is eligible for interment (ground burial) and their dependent(s) may have their cremated remains
placed in a designated unmarked area of the cemetery. Family members must be placed in this area once one member has had their
remains placed here. The ashes must be in a biodegradable container or placed without container directly into the ground.
Application for an Exception to the Interment/Inurnment
The purpose for an Exception to the Interment/Inurnment
Policy is to permit those who are not otherwise eligible under current policies to ask for special
consideration. Please note, exceptions are only approved for those requestors whose facts merit extraordinary
circumstances and whose approval will not ordinarily displace an otherwise eligible
A letter requesting an exception to policy should be submitted to the Superintendent, Arlington National Cemetery,
Arlington, VA 22211. A request for an exception to policy will not be considered until the death of the individual. Letters
may be faxed to the Superintendent on telephone number (703) 607-8583. The letter should contain the following information:
- Name of the deceased.
- Reason(s) why the deceased should be favorably considered for an exception to policy. All relevant information
regarding military service or service to the nation should be included. All documentation of service should be included (i.e.,
DD Form 214, award certificates, orders, etc.)
- If interment is to be in the same grave as someone already interred, provide the full name of the previously
interred person and the section/grave number where interred, if known. Include the relationship of the deceased to the previously
- Include a point of contact and both a daytime and evening telephone number for questions concerning additional
information and notification purposes.
- Family member or personal representative will read and sign the public disclosure form and forward it with
the exception request. Copies of the public disclosure form are available at the Administration Building or you may telephone
for a copy of the form on telephone numbers (703) 607-8585.
- Exceptions for new gravesite will be reviewed by the Superintendent and forwarded to the Assistant Secretary
of the Army (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) who will thoroughly review all information submitted and then provide a recommendation
to the Secretary of the Army who will make the decision.
The Secretary of the Army will make a decision on the request based on all information submitted by the decedent's
NOK or representative through the Superintendent, ANC.
Justification for the specific waiver is the responsibility of the requestor. The Department of Defense
does not conduct research to help justify waivers for internment or inurnment to ANC. Each request for exception to
the interment and inurnment policies will be evaluated using the following considerations:
a. A decedent’s specific military service (contributions and acts) that directly and substantially
benefited the United States military.b. A decedent’s specific civilian service (contributions and
acts) that directly and substantially benefited the United States military, and which demonstrates the manner and level of
sacrifice or heroism typical of military service.
c. Finally, whether the decedent’s combined military and civilian service presents extraordinary
circumstances that justify approving an exception to the policy.
d. The degree to which a decedent meets eligibility standards for interment or inurnment.
e. The degree of consistency with past decisions.
f . The potential impact of a decision, as precedent, for future requests of like circumstance or degree.
A person requesting an exception for a decedent should provide factual, detailed information, supported with
accurate documentation, for each of the criteria in subsections (a) through (c) above.
Decisions generally provided within 7 to 10 business days after receipt of the request.
Burden of Proof in Establishing Eligibility
The estate of the deceased (or next-of-kin/personal representative) is responsible for providing the appropriate
documentation to verify the veteran's eligibility for interment or for inurnment. The cemetery staff may offer assistance
in verifying the veteran's eligibility. However, the veteran or their spouse must be deceased prior to the cemetery staff
assisting with the verification. Verification by the cemetery staff may take up to three workdays.
Veterans who desire copies of their military records should write to: National Personnel Records Center, Attention:
Military Personnel Records, 1 Reserve Way, St Louis, Missouri 63132. Please allow six to eight months for a response from
the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC).
Some example documents for establishing eligibility are: DD Form 214 (all branches starting in the 1950's);
WD AGO Form 53, 53-55, or 53-98 for Army; NAVPERS Form 553 for Navy; and NAVMC Form 553 for the Marines during the 1940's
(Both front and back of the forms are needed). A Record of Service provided by the NPRC is also acceptable. The preceding
represents a partial listing of forms used during the 1940's. Some of the preceding documents do not describe the character
of service. A copy of the discharge certificate which describes the character of service as "honorable" or "under honorable
conditions" will meet this requirement.
Active Duty Deaths
Any member of the Uniformed Services who dies while on active duty (other than for training) will generally
have their affairs processed by a casualty assistance officer from their respective branch of service. An active duty statement
from the commanding officer will be required for verification of eligibility.
Contacting the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
For burial eligibility or information, you may contact your local VA Office, the nearest VA National Cemetery,
or you may visit the National Cemetery Adinistration website at