Burial and Inurnment Requirements at Arlington National Cemetery

This post covers the requirements are for in-ground burial as well as inurnments at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.  The requirements for in-ground burials at Arlington National Cemetery are the most stringent in the country. The requirements for burial at Arlington National Cemetery have been tightened in recent years as more and more veterans want to be buried at Arlington.  There are between 25 and 30 funerals every week day at Arlington, and at the current rates the Cemetery will be completely full in 2025, although there are plans to extend Arlington’s time as an active military cemetery until 2065.  One of the most popular questions that visitors have about the Cemetery is how does one qualify to be buried there.

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Here are the basic qualifications for in-ground burial (interment):

  • Any US military personnel killed while on active duty (KIA).
  • Any retired member of the Armed Services who is eligible to receive retirement benefits stemming from their service.
  • Any former member of the military separated from the Armed Services by physical disability prior to Oct. 1949 who served on active duty, and who would have been eligible for retirement benefits had such benefits existed when they separated from the service.
  • Any former Service member who was honorably discharged AND has been awarded any of the following: Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Purple Heart.
  • Anyone who has held elected office in the US government, provided they also served in the military and were discharged honorably.  Also any Supreme Court Justices, Cabinet Members, Trade Representatives, Attorneys General, Office of Management and Budget Directors, Social Security Commissioners, Drug Policy directors, CIA directors, Chairman of the FED, various deputy secretaries, and the ambassadors to NATO, the UN, and a handful of countries.  All provided that they served on active duty.
  • Any former President of the United States.
  • A spouse or dependent child of any eligible veteran.

Arlington Cemetery ColumbariumArlington National Cemetery also has a large columbarium, which houses cremated remains.  The requirements for inurnment, as it is called, are much less stringent.  Obviously, anyone who qualifies for burial can also be inurned in the columbarium, but essentially anyone who has served in the military, including the reserves, and has been honorably discharged can be inurned in the columbarium.  All fees associated with either internment or inurnment, including the funeral costs, are paid by the Army, so there is no cost to a veteran.

Be sure to read our full guide on Arlington National Cemetery, and if you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it with your friends and family.

About the author

Canden is a historian and tour guide in Washington DC with 3 published books about the city. She has written for HuffPost Travel and has been featured in the Washington Post, WTOP, and numerous other DC papers. She's also been interviewed by the Travel Channel and Discovery Family Channel. Canden is the host of our podcast, Tour Guide Tell All

With a M.A. in History from University College London and a B.A. in History from Elon University, she is an authority on D.C. history, and has led tours in the city for over 10 years. She currently resides in DC, but has also lived in London and South Korea, and has travelled to 25 countries. Her two children (both under the age of 3) have their passports and own frequent flier accounts.