LawRefs Customized Legal Information
Attorney Renee C. Walsh

Moving a Body from Georgia to Virginia


We live in the state of Georgia and we have burial plots in the state of Virginia. We would like to know if we can carry the body in our own vehicle after getting all the permits that we need?


Georgia law, O.C.G.A. § 31-10-20 requires a permit for removal of the body from the state. (If the body were coming from Virginia, Georgia law would require a disposition permit from Virginia.)

Virginia law, 32.1-265 requires a transit permit issued by the registrar of the district in which the death certificate was filed. (Note: This law specifically refers to the “person who first assumes custody” of a dead body.)

There is no Georgia or Virginia state law preventing you from transporting the body in your vehicle once you have the permits required. (Handling and storage of human remains is codified at Virginia law, 54.1-2811.1 and applies to a “funeral service establishment” and not a private person.)

For more information, contact the Georgia Department of Public Health at 404-679-4702; or the Virginia Department of Public Health at 804-662-6200.

ADDITIONAL ARTICLE related to this topic




  1. My brother lived and passed away in Georgia. He unexpectedly passed away at 44 he has a 5-yr-old son in Georgia where he and his fiance lived together. He is supposed to have a 22-yr-old daughter in Louisiana. Her mother put my brother’s name on the next child she had, which is not my brother’s child, my brother in jail in 93 and the boy in LA was born 8/94. Georgia said my mother doesn’t have any rights in regards to my brother’s body. The 19-year-old boy’s mother tries to do things out of spite and faxed the boy’s birth certificate to the medical examiner’s office here in Georgia to transfer my brother’s body to N.O. where they cremated him. His 5-year-old son and his mother didn’t have a chance to see him. I don’t understand. He lived in Georgia. He wanted to be cremated and his ashes spread in Jamaica along with my father’s ashes. Can they do that without telling my mother or his 5-year-old son’s mother that they were sending his body to New Orleans and can they do that without regard to his family in Georgia?

    • Dear Tangel:

      Yes, because of the rules on the priority of the right to control the disposition of the body, they can do that if they are presented with proper proof on which to base a decision.

      If you can prove that the boy could NOT be your brother’s child, then you would have a basis to file a petition in the probate court of the county in which your brother lived, asking the court to make a determination. It would also be helpful if you had his wishes in writing, such as in a Last Will and Testament.

      Under OCGA 31-21-7 (5), the right to control the disposition of the remains would vest (after any child age 18 or older), in the surviving parent or parents of the decedent. If one of the surviving parents is absent, the remaining parent shall be vested with the rights and duties under this Code section after reasonable efforts have been unsuccessful in locating the absent surviving parent.