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How much does a funeral cost?

There are many things to think about and decide when arranging a funeral. It is often a difficult time for family and friends who are dealing with loss. A funeral is also, to some people’s surprise, a lot more expensive than they thought, often costing thousands of pounds. We’ll give you a breakdown of a funeral cost and suggest a few ways to help you plan a good but affordable funeral.

Average funeral cost

Recent figures show that a funeral using a funeral director costs on average £4,078*.

This cost can vary quite a bit, depending on location and the funeral arrangements.

In London for example, the price of a funeral is almost double the national average.

But it is possible to have a meaningful funeral for a lot less.

For example, you could have a ‘direct cremation’, which costs about £1,600, and then organise a ceremony at home. Or you could even arrange the funeral yourself.

Whichever type of funeral you choose, costs can vary widely even in the same location.

So make sure you get quotes from more than one provider.

The table below gives an indication of what you might pay for a simple funeral. This includes funeral director’s costs, but not optional costs such as an elaborate ceremony.

However you choose to arrange a funeral, you should set a budget that you stick to.

Type of funeralAverage funeral cost*Includes
Direct cremation£1,600Collection of the deceased, a simple coffin, and return of ashes
Cremation using a funeral director£3,311Collection and care of the deceased, a basic coffin, hearse and managing a simple service; but does not include an elaborate ceremony
Burial using a funeral director£4,257Collection and care of the deceased, a basic coffin, hearse and managing a simple service; but does not include an elaborate ceremony

*Source: Some of the data in this article is based on the annual SunLife Cost of Dying report 2017, and the Royal London National Funeral Cost Index Report 2017.

What is a ‘direct cremation’?

Direct cremation is offered by some companies – where the body is collected from a mortuary during normal working hours and cremated at a convenient time.

There’s usually no viewing or ceremony beforehand, or a limousine for the family and mourners.

And if you wish to have the ashes afterwards, make sure you request them.

You usually need to collect them, but some might deliver for a charge.

This then leaves you to hold a ceremony, if you wish, at a time and place of your choosing.

Did you know?

Musician David Bowie and Booker Prize winning author Anita Brookner both chose direct cremation instead of a funeral.

How much is it?

We suggest a budget of about £1,600.

We found several companies online offering direct cremation for around £1,000.

This price normally includes third party costs such as doctor’s certification and crematorium fees.

If you’d like to have the ashes returned to you, this can cost an extra £100. And collecting the body outside of normal working hours, or from a nursing home or residence, is about an extra £500.

This brings the total cost of a direct cremation to £1,600.

A funeral cost might vary depending on location. So, shop around and check whether the company offers a reasonable price for covering your area.

If you choose to hold a ceremony afterwards, you’ll need to factor in these costs as well.

However, there are a variety of low cost ways to have a ceremony, such as having it at home.

How to find one?

You can do an online search for ‘direct cremation’ in your area.

If you’re in England or Wales, you could try these national providers:

Or use these sites below to find a local provider.

Make sure you check more than one site as they will show different results.

Some might not provide direct cremations.

Using a funeral director

A funeral director can help make it easier for you to arrange a funeral, giving you time to grieve.

But this is likely to mean a more expensive funeral.

How much is a funeral director?

The funeral director’s fees are the most expensive part of a funeral.

They make up over 69% of the cost of a cremation funeral, and 53% of a burial funeral, making it an average cost of £2,411*.

If you use a funeral director, they’ll collect, store, prepare and deliver the body to the cemetery or crematorium.

They’ll also ensure the necessary forms for cremation or burial are completed, and some will also arrange a simple ceremony as part of their fee.

They’ll also provide a coffin, hearse and usually a limousine.

But these items can quickly add up depending on what you pick.

For example, the price of a coffin can be as little as £100 to as much as £10,000.

If price is a concern, you should ask your local funeral director if they offer a simple funeral or a direct cremation.

How to find a funeral director

You shouldn’t just pick the first one you find.

Call around and get at least two quotes before you choose one that’s best for you.

You should also consider using a local independent funeral director.

They’re usually cheaper than a national chain.

Use these sites to find a local funeral director. Make sure you check more than one site as the prices will vary.

You could also use the Funeral Choice website to compare the price of your local funeral directors.

You can refine the results by changing your search area. The prices shown don’t include the cremation or burial fee.

*Source: Some of the data in this article is based on the annual SunLife Cost of Dying report 2017, and the Royal London National Funeral Cost Index Report 2017.

Arrange it yourself without a funeral director

If you would prefer to arrange the funeral yourself, the following article offers a step-by-step guide to organising a simple cremation.

Arranging a funeral yourself (without a funeral director)

Third party costs (disbursement costs)

Third party costs, also known as ‘disbursement costs’ is a fancy term for fees that you must pay to a third party to either bury or cremate the body.

If you’re using a funeral director, they are likely to manage this payment for you, but they’ll probably ask for this money up front.

Costs can vary a lot depending on your choices. For example, a cremation is normally cheaper even if you’re using a funeral director.

However burial costs vary enormously up and down the country, with a new grave costing from just over £550 in Belfast, to over £4700 in the London and Brighton areas.

Type of feeAverage cost*
Burial fees£1,847
Cremation fees£755
Medical referee’s certificate in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (only applies for cremation)£164
Clergy/officiant fee£156

The burial fee usually covers the lease of a burial plot, and the digging and filling of the grave.

There’s also a fee to use the crematorium to cremate the body.

Before you decide on a cemetery or crematorium, there are a few things to bear in mind which might affect the final cost:

  • There is sometimes a big price difference in having a funeral in one crematorium or cemetery to another just a few miles apart. So, it’s good idea to check both your local and surrounding areas to compare the cost and find the best one for you.
  • You should also ask if the cemetery has ‘non-resident charges’. These are extra charges for cremating or burying a person who didn’t live in the district or borough.
  • There is also usually a separate charge to keep a grave clean and tidy. This is normally paid every year. Before you decide which cemetery to use, you should check how much this is.
  • Sometimes there is a separate charge to use the cemetery or crematorium to conduct the funeral service. You should check to see if this is included in the burial or cremation fees.

The third party costs might also include fees for specific services.

For example, doctor’s fees to certify the death, a member of the clergy to perform the funeral service, or an officiant to lead a non-religious service.

If you’re using a funeral director to arrange the funeral, the third party costs are sometimes included in their funeral package.

Most funeral directors will ask you to pay for the disbursement costs before the funeral.

You should check the quote they give before you agree to use them.

*Source: Some of the data in this article is based on the annual SunLife Cost of Dying report 2017, and the Royal London National Funeral Cost Index Report 2017.

Optional costs

There are many items and services that you can add to a funeral. Each item however costs money.

The more you add, the more expensive the funeral becomes.

And you could very easily end up adding an extra £1,976* or more to the final bill.

You might wish to think carefully about whether these items and services are needed in the funeral.

If you feel they’re needed, you should shop around and see if you can get them for less.

ItemAverage cost*
Memorial headstone or plaque£916
Venue hire£397
Fee to return the ashes (only applies to direct cremation)£62
Funeral notice£85
Death notice or obituary£72
Order of service sheets£63
UrnFrom £30
Death certificate copies (several copies are needed for probate)From £4 per copy

You can find more information about optional funeral costs on the Funeral Costs Help website.

*Source: Some of the data in this article is based on the annual SunLife Cost of Dying report 2017, and the Royal London National Funeral Cost Index Report 2017.

How to reduce the funeral cost 

There is no need to feel pressured to spend a lot of money or get yourself into debt, just to show your affection and respect.

You can have a funeral that’s dignified and meaningful without having to spend a huge amount of money.

A cremation is usually going to cost less than a burial. As is arranging the funeral yourself instead of using a funeral director.

But there are some ways to further reduce the cost of a funeral regardless of these choices:

  1. Shop around: the funeral cost can vary a lot. While you might find it difficult, it’s important to compare prices and services.
    Get a quote from more than one funeral director, caterer or florist so you can compare prices. You can then pick one that fits your budget.
  2. Ask family and friends: for example, instead of paying for a caterer, ask family and friends to bring food to the wake. You could also ask them to help you check for cheaper options.
  3. Charity collection and memorial: buying and maintaining a headstone or memorial plaque can be expensive. Instead, you can create an online memorial where family and friends can donate to a charity in memory of the deceased.
    Websites such as JustGiving offer a charity online memorial indefinitely.
  4. Time of day of a cremation, and who you use: picking a cheaper slot, if available, such as an early morning or a weekday slot can also lower the cost. You could also pick a council-run crematorium, which is usually cheaper than a private one. The facilities and decor however might be a bit basic, so you might want to check it out beforehand.
  5. Type of coffin: there’s nothing in the law that says you have to use a coffin. You can use a shroud instead. Don’t feel pressured into picking an expensive coffin or shroud if you’re working with a limited budget.
    You can sometimes get a cheaper option with online coffin and shroud suppliers, such as The Coffin Company.
    Alternatively, check the Good Funeral Guide’s list of recommended companies.
  6. Natural burial: you might want to consider a natural burial ground, such as a woodland. These are often much cheaper than a traditional cemetery, which can be very expensive. Traditional cemeteries also charge ‘non-resident’ fees if the person who died didn’t live in the area. To find a natural burial ground, visit the Natural Death Centre website.
  7. Body donation: many people can apply to donate their body to medical schools for training healthcare professionals or for research. The body will not always be accepted as it will depend on the requirements of the individual medical schools, the circumstances of the death and the conditions from which the person has died. If donation is not possible, other funeral arrangements will need to be arranged. Schools might hold a memorial or funeral service, but there is often a delay of two to three years before it takes place. Some medical schools will request a contribution towards transporting costs. Find your local medical school on the Human Tissue Authority’s website where you can get more information on the conditions they have for taking the body.

For more ways to reduce the funeral cost, visit the Down to Earth and Natural Death Centreopens in new window websites. 

Help paying for a funeral

If you’re worried about the funeral cost, or think that you might struggle to pay for it, read our article Help paying for a funeral for some advice.

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