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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Arranging a funeral

A funeral can be either by burial or by cremation. You can organise it with or without the help of a funeral director, and personalise it as much as you wish. In some cases the deceased may have planned their own funeral in advance.


Bear in mind that you can't finalise the date for the funeral until after the death has been registered. If the death has to be reported to the coroner, the date when the funeral can be held will be affected.

Taking the deceased's wishes into account

Remember to check the deceased's will or other written instructions for special wishes about their funeral or what should happen to their body. (However, the executor doesn't have to follow the instructions about the funeral left in the will.)

If there are no clear wishes, the executor/administrator or the nearest relative will usually decide if the body will be cremated or buried.

Funeral options

The only legal requirement in the UK for funerals is the death must be certified and registered and the body must be buried or cremated.

Funerals outside England and Wales

You will need the permission of the coroner for the district before a body can be moved out of England and Wales. You can find your local coroner's contact details by following the link below using the Coroners' Society of England and Wales. You will need to send the coroner a notification of your intention to remove the body.

If he or she decides that the body can be removed, the coroner will let you know within four days from getting your notification. They will issue a removal notice (form 104). Part of this notice is then sent to the registrar of births, deaths and marriages.

There are specialist funeral directors who should be able to help you with moving the person's body from England or Wales.

You can read more on funeral directors below.

Choosing a funeral director - what to think about

Many people choose to use a professional funeral director but legally you don’t have to do so. If you don’t want to use a funeral director, see ‘Arranging a funeral without a funeral director’ below.

Funeral directors should see that the deceased is dealt with in a dignified way. Friends, family, clergy or your doctor may be able to recommend local funeral directors. Most local companies are also listed in the telephone directory.

Services a funeral director provides

You may want to ask the funeral director to:

  • make all the funeral arrangements
  • arrange for a notice in the newspapers
  • provide staff and a suitable coffin
  • move the deceased from where they died to the funeral director’s premises
  • look after the deceased before the funeral
  • provide a hearse to the cemetery or crematorium

Deciding which funeral director to use

Different funeral directors can charge different amounts for the same service so try to get more than one quotation to compare costs. Ask for a detailed price list of charges to see what they are charging for their services before making a decision.

Once you have chosen a funeral director, make sure you:

  • get a written quotation giving details of all costs you will be charged
  • ask about fees paid by the funeral director to others (called ‘disbursements’) for things like newspaper announcements

You may need to sign a contract with the funeral director. Make sure you read it carefully and ask the funeral director about anything you don’t understand.

Funeral directors’ trade associations

Funeral directors aren’t regulated or licensed but most are members of one of two trade associations:

  • National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD)
  • Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF)

Members of these trade associations must provide you with a price list on request. They cannot charge you more than their written estimate unless you give them permission. It is not always clear from their adverts if a funeral director is independent or part of a group, so ask the funeral director before you go ahead.

If you're unhappy with a funeral director's service

Contact the Citizens Advice consumer service if you are unhappy with the services you have received from a funeral director. If the funeral director is a member of a trade association, you can also contact that association and use their services to resolve any disputes.

Your rights when hiring a funeral director

Services you have paid for should be provided with reasonable care and skill and should be of a good standard.

To find out your consumer rights and how to make a complaint about funeral services, follow the links below.

Arranging a funeral without a funeral director

You can arrange a funeral without the help of a funeral director. If you choose to do this, contact the Cemeteries and Crematorium Department of your local authority for advice and guidance. You can also get help and information from The Natural Death Centre.

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