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Cemetery Plan Review and Approval

Cemetery Law Citations

Guidelines and Resources

Cemetery Law Citations

20-17-901. Registration required.

All cemeteries now existing in the state shall be registered with the county judge, if under his jurisdiction, or with the mayor, as the case may be, and a copy of the registration shall be filed with the Department of Health. This registration shall show the location and boundaries of the cemetery.

History. Acts 1929, No. 204, § 2; Pope's Dig., § 6447; Acts 1985, No. 1014, § 2; A.S.A. 1947, § 82-402.

20-17-902. Burial in registered cemetery required - Records.

(a) It shall be unlawful to bury a dead body outside of a registered cemetery.

(b) The sexton or person in charge of the cemetery shall keep a correct record, on a form prescribed by the Department of Health, of each body buried therein.

History. Acts 1929, No. 204, § 3; Pope's Dig., § 6448; Acts 1985, No. 1014, § 3; A.S.A. 1947, § 82-403.

20-17-903. Application to locate or extend boundaries.

(a) Whenever it is proposed to locate a cemetery or to extend the boundaries of an existing cemetery, the party so proposing shall make written application to the county judge or the mayor of an incorporated city or town, according to whether the cemetery or extension of a cemetery, is to be located in the jurisdiction of one (1) or the other of these authorities. The written description shall describe accurately the location and boundaries of the proposed cemetery or extension of a cemetery.

(b) Before acting upon the application, the county judge or the mayor, as the case may be, shall refer the application to the Department of Health for investigation from a sanitary standpoint. In making such investigation the department shall take into consideration the proximity of the proposed cemetery or extension of a cemetery to human habitations, the nature of the soil, the drainage of the ground, the danger of pollution of valuable springs or streams of water, and such other conditions as would bear upon the situation.

(c) Having completed its investigation as promptly as can be done, the department shall submit a report to the judge or the mayor, as the case may be, and either approve or disapprove the application.

(d) Having received the report from the department, the judge or the mayor, as the case may be, as recommended by the department, shall either grant or deny the application.

(e) Should the application be granted, the judge or the mayor, as the case may be, shall issue to the party making the application, in such form as may be prescribed by the department, a permit to establish or extend the cemetery in question.

(f) The permit shall be recorded in the office of the county judge or the mayor and a copy forwarded to the department.

History. Acts 1929, No. 204, § 1; Pope's Dig., § 6446; Acts 1985, No. 1014, § 1; A.S.A. 1947, § 82-401.

20-17-904. Perpetual care trust.

(a) Any person, by trust instrument or will, may establish a trust fund in perpetuity with the income from the trust fund to go to the upkeep of certain specified burial lots or plots in one (1) or more cemeteries or burial grounds in the State of Arkansas.

(b)(1) No amount placed in trust pursuant to subsection (a) of this section by any one (1) trustor or testator shall be in excess of the sum of ten thousand dollars ($10,000).

(2) The trust fund shall be invested in the state, municipal, or federal obligations; deposited for interest in a savings and loan association whose funds are insured by the Federal Savings & Loan Insurance Corporation; or placed on interest-bearing time deposit in a bank whose funds are guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

(3) The trust fund shall be so invested or deposited as directed by the chancery court of the county in which is located the burial grounds specified in the trust instrument of the trustor or will of the testator.

(c) The trustee of the fund shall file an annual report in the chancery court of the county wherein the burial grounds are located, showing the receipts and disbursements from the trust fund.

(d) The provisions of subsections (a)-(c) of this section are in addition to any and all other laws relating to cemeteries and trust funds.

(e) The rule against perpetuities shall not apply to property or funds set aside or trust created for the perpetual care of burial lots in cemeteries.

History. Acts 1939, No. 122, § 1; 1965, No. 445, §§ 1-4; 1985, No. 597, § 1; A.S.A. 1947, §§ 50-108, 82-427 - 82-430.

Columbarium / Disposal of Crematoria Remains

The cemetery statutes are silent concerning the disposal of crematoria remains or the development of a columbarium for such disposal or interment.  The Department of Health does not believe that there is any public health significance to the disposal of crematoria remains and therefore does not regulate such disposal or the construction or development of columbaria.

Guidelines and Resources

Application for Location or Extension of Boundaries of Cemeteries

The following information must be furnished to the Arkansas Department of Health in connection with their investigation of proposed cemeteries.

  1. An accurate legal description of land for which the permit is requested. The legal description should be certified by an engineer or surveyor, and be consistent with all maps or plans of the proposed cemetery.
  2. A contour map with five-foot contour intervals is required.
  3. A detailed design of the cemetery layout is required. All dimensions should conform with those on the contour map.
  4. The size of the minimum grave space should be provided.
  5. A map showing locations of and distances to the nearest human habitation in each direction is required. This map should show all water wells and.or springs serving as water supplies. Locations of roads or highways in the immediate vicinity should be shown. The reference point should be shown on this map.
  6. At least one test hole per acre, uniformly spaced, is required. Holes should be at least six feet deep. Logs of all test holes should describe types of soil and any rock encountered. Depths at which water is encountered should be indicated. Logs should be certified by a competent person.
  7. Perpetual Care Cemeteries must also make an application through: 
    Arkansas State Board of Embalmers, Funeral Directors Cemeteries & Burial Services
    Arkansas Department of Commerce
    Arkansas Insurance Department-Funeral Service Division

    #1 Commerce Way
    Suite 502
    Little Rock, Arkansas 72202-2087
    Phone # 501-371-2646
  8. Mail plans to:
    Arkansas Department of Health
    Engineering Section
    4815 West Markham, Slot 37
    Little Rock, AR 72205-3867
  9. Online Plan Submittal
  10. A plan review of $50, required by state statute, must accompany the plans.

Contact Information

Contact Address Phone Fax
Plan Review 4815 West Markham, Slot 37
Little Rock, AR 72205-3867


501 661-2623  501 661-2032

Public Health Accrediation Board
Arkansas Department of Health
© 2017 Arkansas Department of Health. All Rights Reserved.
4815 W. Markham, Little Rock, AR 72205-3867