Emergency mortuary facilities

The HTA regulates establishments in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that conduct licensed activities under the Human Tissue Act 2004 (HT Act). This includes establishments that undertake post-mortem examinations, store bodies and samples for scheduled purposes in the HT Act, and remove samples from the deceased for these purposes.

We can provide an HTA licence for an emergency mortuary in the event of an incident.

Some facilities may not need an HTA licence. This is because the HT Act applies to specified activities and there are some exemptions. For example, some activities conducted for the police are exempt. Premises where bodies are stored prior to burial or cremation do not need to be licensed by the HTA because this is not for a scheduled purpose. Further information is provided in the HTA guidance.

Emergency planning teams should refer to the HTA guidance for further information about HTA licensing of emergency mortuary facilities and how to apply for an HTA licence.

As part of emergency planning, organisations should consider whether an HTA licence for an emergency mortuary facility might be required.

If an emergency mortuary facility licence may be required in the event of an incident, organisations should complete as much as possible of the licence application form as part of their emergency planning and preparation. The information on the licence application form should be reviewed regularly and when major changes to emergency plans are made.

The licence application should not be submitted to the HTA until such time as a licence is required (that is, in the event of an incident occurring).

Following an incident – applying for an HTA licence for an emergency mortuary facility

Premises, where licensable activities take place, need to be licensed by the HTA. The relevant licences must be in place before licensable activity can commence.

Emergency facilities can be erected and body recovery and storage initiated immediately following an incident. However, it is unlawful to carry out licensable activities until the relevant HTA licence is granted.

The HTA should be notified if a licence is required for an emergency mortuary facility. The guidance document provides detailed information on how to apply for an HTA licence for an emergency mortuary facility.

Please contact the HTA for advice if you are uncertain about whether your planned emergency mortuary arrangements would require premises to be licensed.