What Is An Urn Vault?


Urn Vaults: Providing Ultimate Protection For Cremation Urns

Regardless of the many choices people have for cremation urns for ashes, some families prefer to stick with tradition. Historically, cremation urns have been stored in a permanent place in a cemetery, or otherwise kept at home. People who wish to have their ashes placed in an urn and put to final rest in a consecrated cemetery should consider purchasing an urn vault to hold their urns. Urn vaults are often required by cemetery administrators for proper maintenance of a person’s final remains. There are many different styles available for an urn vault, so that people can select the vault that is best for their needs.

Burial Options for Cremation Urns

single-urn-vaultWhen people wish to have their urns put in a cemetery, they can choose between a traditional burial plot and a columbarium. Columbaria are not unlike mausoleums, beautiful buildings on a cemetery’s property designed to house human remains. Depending on the individual cemetery’s rules and local regulations, those who want to put their ashes in the columbarium may need to purchase an urn vault. If columbaria are not available, some families decide to purchase a burial plot. This is often done in cases where one member of a family wishes to be cremated and buried with relatives who were buried traditionally. In this case, urn vaults are often required.

History of Cremation Burial

Although the widespread popularity of cremation is fairly recent, people have sought different ways to keep the ashes of their loved ones for thousands of years. Throughout history, families often preferred to keep their loved ones’ remains underground. For example, archaeologists have discovered columbaria built and kept by the Etruscans well over 2,000 years ago. This protected the ashes from theft, vandalism or accidental scattering.

What is an Urn Vault?

More recently, people realized that they need a way to protect their loved ones’ remains without necessarily having to put cremation urns for ashes underground. Thus, the urn vault came to be. Simply put, an urn vault is a sturdy container that will typically hold one or two urns. The material for the urn vault varies, although many are made from wood or stone. Others may be made from concrete or special polymers that are designed to avoid erosion over time. The principle behind the urn vault is to provide an additional layer of protection, so that the person’s ashes are not scattered by weather or vandalism.

Why Urn Vaults?

Beyond following the rules of a cemetery, many people wonder why they should consider buying an urn vault. The reasons are many, and they are as varied as the people who have their ashes contained within. Most families opt to use an urn vault because they want to have the ashes buried in a cemetery, and the cemetery requires it. Others may have different perspectives on the matter. When burying the ashes of several family members in a columbarium is not an option, people might select an urn vault that will keep them together for eternity. Some realize that their chosen urns are not sturdy enough to withstand burial on their own. An urn vault provides the support needed for an urn to maintain its shape underground, despite the movement of the earth or necessary cemetery maintenance.

Styles For Urn Vaults

Like urns, urn vaults offer some excellent choices in styles and customization. First, families should consider whether they would like the vault to hold one urn or more. Second, they may select the material they would like for the urn vault. These include:

• Polymer
• Concrete
• Marble
• Wood

Most urn vaults are lined with other materials, such as metals or plastics, which are also designed to prevent penetration by water, insects or rodents. Third, people simply need to settle on the design that fits their needs. Some vault manufacturers offer a specific, interesting design cut directly into the vault, as well as many different colors to choose from. Others are more plain and traditional, with a sleek, elegant presentation.

Customization Options

assured-single-vault-personalizedAdding custom choices is important to help cemetery maintenance staff identify the remains contained within without having to disturb the urns. Most vault manufacturers offer customization in the form of handmade engraving on brass plates that are attached to the front or top of the urn vault. Some vaults provide the option to add pictures of the people whose ashes are buried there. For vaults that hold more than one urn, the ability to add separate plates for each person is useful, particularly if the vault is created when one person has passed and the other is still living.

For families who choose to cremate and bury their loved ones in a cemetery, urn vaults provide the level of class and protection to their beloved’s final rest. The act of burying cremation urns for ashes has a long and rich history. Urn vaults now allow people to ensure that their cremation urns will be protected for decades to come. With the many choices available for materials, lining, colors, styles and customization options, families can select the urn vaults that best represent the personality and flair of their loved ones.


  1. Tracei Krebser

    hello, can a family member who is cremated have their ashes buried on top of another family member? ( like a mothers or grandparent), grave site. some one told me some places will do this ?

  2. //

    Hello Tracy,

    I apologize for the late response – Yes most places will allow for you to opt having the ashes buried above a currently buried family member if you so choose. However, there are places that will not allow this, most times it is due to the depth of the cemetery and if there is enough room above the currently buried casket.

    I hope this was helpful.

    Best wishes,
    In the Light Urns

  3. //

    I think it’s awesome that there are so many different ways to be buried. Cremation is something that has has always interested me, but I’d never thought of having a vault for an urn. I’ve heard a lot about biodegradable urns too – what has been your experience using them? I’m not in a hurry to use one, just curious. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Chanel

    Is it possible to get ashes from the plot after they’ve been placed there or will funeral homes not do that?

  5. Snowy

    Thank you for this information. We are planning for the future. It is a difficult subject to address and your article makes it less so.

  6. //

    I like that the urn vault has an extra layer to protect the remains. I would be worried about urn becoming brittle in the cold. Especially if it were to absorb some moisture. The temperature could cause the urn to expand and contract then shatter. By adding another protective layer like the article suggests, you can protect it even more.

  7. angela

    IS it mandatory, in Illinois, for a person to pay, for the opening and closing of a plot for cremated remains?

  8. Jamie L. Bolivar

    My sister and I would like to bury our parents together. However, they each have different size and shape urns. We would like tp price a vault that would have to have an interior size of 20″ high, 2’X 2′ long and deep. Can you give us a price for this?

  9. //

    Hello Jamie,
    If you don’t mind me asking, what type of urns do they each have? Our Assured Double Wide Urn Vault is made for two brass urns, wood urns or couple urns. For a price inquiry please give one of our Memorial Specialists a call at 1-800-757-3488.

    Susan Fraser

  10. //

    Hello Trayson,

    I agree and seasons differ depending on where people live. Many Cemeteries require an urn vault because it protects the urn and ashes inside along with other factors. Choosing an Urn Vault is similar to deciding on an urn. They come in a choice of material and style as well as custom options. Urn Vaults allow families to be buried together for eternity.

    Susan Fraser

  11. //

    Hello Angela,

    For families who qualify for low cost arrangements, Illinois will provide Public Aid interments for the opening and closing of plot remains. This allowance is only available to the individual if they passed away while on public aid. If they were not on public aid then Cook County will pay directly for an interment which is around $400. Many families often seek low cost alternatives which can be found at a number of cemeteries. There are typically charges for opening and closing plot remains. Check with the cemeteries to verify if some are licensed for future care.

    Susan Fraser

  12. //

    Hello Chanel,

    Each state and local laws varies with rules and regulations within a funeral home. I would contact your local funeral home on the process of unearthing a cremation urn. Make sure you have the burial plot deed paper work available to show proof of authority.

    Susan Fraser

  13. Jackie Doss

    A wood box is included in my mother’s cremation package, but the cemetery won’t bury cremains in a wood box. If I buy a vault, do I still need to use the wood box? Or would the cremains just go directly in the vault? If not, how do I know the vault will fit over the wood box?

  14. //

    Hello Jackie, I would not suggest putting the cremains directly in the vault, but no worries, the wood box will fit inside. What are the dimensions of the wooden box you are wanting to place inside the vault? We do have faults available that you can take a look at here, Vaults. If you would like to speak to one of our memorial specialist you can always give us a call as well, 800-757-3488.

    Susan Fraser

  15. Shawn Hall

    Susan, my sweet 40-year old daughter died unexpectedly December 1, 2017. She is from a large family and extended family. We all get along and are sharing the cost so her adult children don’t have to. Her sister and my ex-mother-in-law got a plot that comes with a vault. Do I need to call and ask them things like 1). Does it matter if the urn us vertical or horizontal?, 2). How tall can it be?, 3). What is the maximum width of an urn does it allow for?, and 4). What is the maximum length capacity?
    Does it matter? (This is in Sacramento area). I’m best trying to keep busy. I feel my heart is being slowly skinned alive.

  16. //

    Shawn, I’m truly sorry to hear about your loss, to loose someone unexpectedly is never easy. A standard vault should be large enough to hold 1 to 2 urns depending on the urns size and dimensions, but just to be sure, I would call and verify with the cemetery the size of the vault they have that comes with the plot. If you need help finding an urn that will fit the vault we do have a large selection to choose from and we also specialize in Custom Cremation Urns. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to help.

    Susan Fraser

  17. DeAnne J Ottaway

    my son recently passed away and his father was buried in Iowa
    we are putting my son’s ashes in 3 places – how can I add his ashes to his Dad’s buriel site? thank you

  18. //

    Hello DeAnne,

    I would get in contact with the cemetery his father is buried at and see what their specific rules are for adding to a burial site. A lot of people usually will go with a brass urn for burial because they are known to be very durable. Another option if you are not wanting brass would be to use an urn vault which accommodates almost any standard urn. We offer companion vaults as well.

    Susan Fraser

  19. Carlos Rodriguez

    … would it be possible to merge ashes, put in one urn and consider one vault?

  20. //

    Hello Carlos, you can definitely merge ashes if you would like. If you click HERE you will see a variety of different urns large enough to hold the ashes of 2 full size adults. There are also larger vaults, like this one HERE, that will fit these larger urns suitable for two people or even 2 individual urns. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

    Susan Fraser

  21. Cheryl McLaughlin

    Mom has recently passed and her ashes are in box provided by chapel. When my Dad passes, he wants his ashes merged with Moms and then buried. We like the looks of the wooden urns but I’m told we’d have to used a cremation vault. If we purchased a wooden vault large enough for their combined ashes, why do we need both urn and vault?

  22. //

    Hello Cheryl, I’m so sorry for your loss, the idea of merging your mother and fathers ashes sounds like a beautiful idea though. Urn vaults are often required in addition to the urn or urns for many reasons and also depends on the cemetery. One of the main reasons a vault would be required is if you plan on having the urns buried. Placing them inside a vault will help ensure the urn is safe from weather conditions, rodents/bugs, certain ground movement or cemetery maintenance as well as natural decay that would occur especially if you were to choose a wooden style urn. Hope this information was helpful, let me know if you have any other questions.

  23. Edward Harrelson

    My wife and I bought a plot with vaults years ago. Before she passed unexpectedly two months ago, she decided on cremation. Do I need to buy a separate urn vault and why since we purchased vaults originally with our plots?

  24. //

    Hello Edward, i’m very sorry for your unexpected loss. If the plots you originally purchased came with vaults then you should not need to purchase additional urn vaults. I would suggest speaking with the cemetery you have purchased the plots at though, just to be sure they do not have different regulations pertaining to the plots and use of the vaults.

    Susan Fraser

  25. Walter E Mumford Jr

    I want to make a vault and have 2 family member’s creamations in it. When my mother-in-law passed, she wants to be creamated and wants her ashes with my other 2 family member’s. We want to built a special garden in our yard for this. I’m inquiring on how and if I can do that?

  26. Mark Pinto

    My wife’s mothers ashes are in a concrete double urn vault. Can the vault be opened and place my wife’s ashes that will be in the same type urn in the same vault next to her mothers when the time comes. Can the vault be reopened?

    Thank You
    Mark Pinto

  27. //

    Hello Mark,

    This is a good question, I feel like you should be able to have it re-opened, but it all depends on the cemetery its located at. I would suggest contacting the cemetery that the vault is located at to see what kind of regulations they have when it comes to re-opening a vault and see if this is something they will do.

    Susan Fraser

  28. //

    Hello Walter,

    That sounds like a beautiful idea, and is definitely possible. It is okay to create a garden and have the cremains buried as long as you are the owner of the property that the cremains are going to be buried on. If you are not the owner, you would need to get permission first from the property owner for it to be legal. For the vault, I would suggest looking into a double wide vault, to hold multiple urns. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

    Susan Fraser

  29. Marge Bretton

    the urn we chose has a name on it. now does the urn look up to the sky or does
    the name look to the dirt at the side. the urn is 9″wide x 7″deep x 9 high it is not a square urn. Thank u

  30. //

    Hello Marge,

    Its really all up to your personal preference and how the urn fits into the vault. Have you purchased a vault already? Here is an Urn Vault we offer online to get a better idea of dimension and sizing. Depending on the urn you have you can either lay it down with the name facing towards the sky or have it stand up inside the vault with the name facing the dirt. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

    Susan Fraser

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *