Who Can Be Buried at Arlington National Cemetery?

This post answers the question about who can be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

We go over the rules and requirements for in-ground burial, which are the most stringent of any national military cemetery in the country. 

We also cover the rules and requirements for above-ground inurnments in the columbarium or niche wall.

Let’s get started. 



The rules and 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 weekday at Arlington

One of the most popular questions that visitors have about the Cemetery is how does one qualify to be buried there.

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 provided that they served on active duty. (In case you are wondering, both former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush would be eligible but former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, as well as President Donald Trump, would not be)
  • A spouse or dependent child of an eligible veteran.

Arlington National Cemetery also has a large columbarium, which houses cremated remains.

Arlington Cemetery ColumbariumThe requirements for inurnment, as it is called, are much less stringent and anyone who qualifies for burial can also be inurned in the columbarium.

However, 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 or his or her family.

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.

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About the author

Stephen is the CEO of Free Tours by Foot and has overseen the transformation of a local walking tour company into a global tour community and traveler’s advice platform. He has personally led thousands of group tours in the US and Europe, and is an expert in trip planning and sightseeing, with a focus on budget travelers.

Stephen has been published and featured in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Yahoo, Washington.org, and more.