Burial in a private cemetery
Learn about the burial benefits available to a Veteran buried in a private cemetery.
Is a Veteran buried in a private cemetery eligible for memorial items?
Yes. Veterans buried in a private cemetery may be eligible for these memorial items:
- Headstone, marker, or medallion
- Burial flag
- Presidential Memorial Certificate
Is a spouse or dependent child buried in a private cemetery eligible for memorial items?
No. A spouse or dependent child buried in a private cemetery isn’t eligible for VA memorial items. Only an eligible Veteran can receive a headstone, marker, or medallion for burial in a private cemetery.
Is a spouse or dependent child eligible for an inscription on the Veteran’s headstone or marker in a private cemetery?
Yes. If the spouse or dependent child is eligible for burial in a VA national cemetery (but isn’t buried there), we’ll provide an inscription on the Veteran’s headstone or marker.
You’ll need to apply for the inscription at the time you request the headstone or marker. The type of inscription you can apply for depends on when the Veteran died.
If the Veteran died on or after October 1, 2019
We’ll inscribe an eligible spouse or dependent child’s name, date of birth, and date of death on the Veteran’s headstone or marker. We’ll also inscribe a term of endearment (like “Loving Father”) if you request this.
We’ll place the inscription on the back of an upright headstone, or below the Veteran’s information on a flat marker.
Note: If a Veteran who died on or after October 1, 2019, already has a government headstone or marker, we’ll pay for a replacement to add an inscription for an eligible spouse or dependent child. Use VA Form 40-1330 to request a replacement. The family will need to pay all fees to remove the original and install the replacement headstone or marker.
If the Veteran died before October 1, 2019
We’ll inscribe an eligible spouse’s name on the Veteran’s headstone or marker. The spouse’s name will appear after the words “Husband of,” “Wife of,” or “Spouse of.” We won’t inscribe the spouse’s date of birth or death.
We’ll place the inscription below the Veteran’s information on a upright headstone or flat marker.
In some cases, we may inscribe an eligible dependent child’s name. You can apply for this type of inscription and we’ll review your request.
To apply for an inscription
Add the inscription information in block 18 of the Claim for Standard Government Headstone or Marker (VA Form 40-1330). When you submit the form, please include documents that show the spouse or dependent relationship (like a marriage license or birth certificate).
If I’m planning in advance for my own burial in a private cemetery, how can I find out which memorial items I’m eligible for?
You can fill out a pre-need eligibility application to determine if you can get a VA headstone or marker.
Note: In their time of need, when a family member files a claim for a headstone or marker, they should include this note in block 27: “Decedent has a VA pre-need decision letter.”
Private cemetery burial costs
How much does a burial in a private cemetery cost?
It depends. We provide memorial items related to the burial to you and your family at no extra cost. But a private cemetery may charge setting, placement, maintenance, or other fees. We recommend that you ask about these additional costs when planning a burial in a private cemetery.
Can VA help with the cost of a Veteran’s burial in a private cemetery?
Yes. If a Veteran is eligible, we may be able to help you with some of the cost of their burial.
How do I request a memorial item for a private cemetery burial?
Fill out a claim for a memorial item
For a headstone, grave marker, or niche cover, fill out a Claim for Standard Government Headstone or Marker (VA Form 40-1330).
Note: If this is your second request, or if you’re requesting a replacement, please explain this in block 27 of the form.
For a medallion to be placed on a privately purchased headstone or marker, fill out a Claim for Government Medallion for Placement in a Private Cemetery (VA Form 40-1330M).
Note: If you’re requesting an MOH medallion, check “Other” in block 11 of the form and write “MOH.”
Make a copy of the Veteran’s DD214 or other discharge documents
Please make a copy of the Veteran’s DD214 or other discharge documents to send to us. Don’t send the originals since we can’t return them.
Send us your claim and supporting documents
You can send us your claim and documents in any of these ways:
Submit your claim and supporting documents online using the QuickSubmit tool through AccessVA.
If it’s your first time signing into this tool, you’ll need to register first. After you’ve registered, you can upload your claim and documents online.
Mail your claim and supporting documents to this address:
NCA FP Evidence Intake Center
PO Box 5237
Janesville, WI 53547
You can also fax your claim to 800-455-7143.
If you need help, please call us at 800-697-6947. We’re here Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET.
Note: Only the National Cemetery Administration can inscribe a memorial item. This is to protect the condition and consistency of memorial items. We don’t allow private or local contractors to inscribe memorial items.
Get help applying for a headstone, marker, or medallion by calling 800-697-6947. We’re here Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET.
More information about burial in a private cemetery
What questions should I ask to prepare for a private cemetery burial?
If you’re planning a burial in a private cemetery, you may want to ask these questions to the cemetery you’re working with:
- If the private cemetery is offering a free gravesite for Veterans, will I be required to buy a gravesite in addition to the free Veteran gravesite?
- If I have to buy an additional gravesite, what will it cost? Where will it be located?
- Can I get a written list of the services my family and I will get from the private cemetery during the burial process?
- Can I get a written list of the information or resources I need to give the private cemetery in order to plan the burial?
- What type of trust fund does the private cemetery have to protect buyers?
- Are there any requirements or restrictions on headstones or grave markers in the private cemetery?
- Do I need to buy a special marker base before ordering a VA headstone?
- Will I have to pay to place, set, or take care of a VA headstone or marker? If yes, will this cost more than if I buy a private headstone or marker?
- Do I need to buy an outer container (sometimes called a “vault” or a “grave liner”) to surround the casket? If yes, how much will this cost?
What should I do if I applied for a memorial item for a Veteran buried in a private cemetery, but the grave is still unmarked?
If the Veteran’s grave is still unmarked and more than 30 days have passed since you filed your claim, call us at 800-697-6947 to make sure we received your claim. We’re here Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET.
If you know we’ve received your claim and more than 60 days have passed, contact the cemetery, funeral home, or other party responsible for accepting delivery of the headstone, marker, or medallion. If they haven’t received it, call us at 800-697-6947. We’re here Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET.
What can I do if I have a complaint about a private cemetery?
If you have a complaint about a private cemetery policy, there are organizations that can help you resolve it.