The average cost of a basic funeral in the UK is £4,056, according to Sunlife.
Guide contents (jump to section)
- Cost of a burial
- Help with funeral costs
- Choosing a cremation or burial
- Understanding the funeral bill, quote or estimate
- Arranging a funeral service
- Choosing a funeral director
- Down to Earth funeral costs helpline
Cremation is often a more affordable option and accounts for up to 75% of all funerals. Sunlife figures for 2022 show the average cost of cremation to be £3,765. This is on average around £1,100 less than a burial, but the difference can be even greater, depending on your location and the cost of burial plots.
The average cost of a burial in the UK is £4,927.
If you choose a burial, there are still options for keeping the costs down. Burials can take place in lots of different places and for a variety of prices – faith-based, local authority and private cemeteries, at sea, a woodland site or on private land, including a garden.
When looking at burial options, be aware that many cemeteries will list the cost in two parts; the purchase of the grave (often for a given period of time, such as 30 years), and the digging of the plot, often referred to as the interment.
Before planning a funeral, consider what you can afford.
People are often overwhelmed in the first few days of bereavement, so take your time and think about your options.
Help with funeral costs can come from a variety of sources.
Sometimes choosing a cremation or burial this can seem obvious and other times less so.
Points to consider can include:
- Directions or preferences of the person who has died
- Religious beliefs, personal or spiritual philosophy
- Environmental concerns
- Simplicity or convenience
- Where the person lived in relation to family or friends
The wishes of the person of who died are very important and it is natural that you will want to honour these if they have been expressed.
If you are worried about funeral costs, perhaps take a little time to think about whether the deceased would want you to take on debt to carry out their wishes.
The Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) recent investigation into the funeral industry has made it a legal requirement for funeral directors to provide certain information to customers.
Some of the key things they must display, in a clear and prominent manner, on their websites and in their branches are:
- All their prices
- A Standardised Price List showing prices for an Attended Funeral and Unattended Funeral
- Their terms of business, including the amount of any deposit, when the deposit and any balance must be paid, and any charges made for late payment
Funeral director charges
Beyond the Standardised Price List, funeral directors can list their prices how they wish, including on their invoices. However, most will divide the bill into two parts:
Costs listed here will be for items and services a funeral director provides, such as:
- Care of the body
- A coffin
Some will include all of these under one title, such as ‘professional fees’, but for others this cost will only cover some items and others, like the coffin and hearse, may be listed and charged separately.
Sometimes known as third party fees, these are costs the funeral director pays to other parties on your behalf, such as:
- The crematorium or cemetery
- The minister or celebrant
- Doctor’s fee
When asked for a quote, funeral directors may still just tell you their fees, so make sure any cost you are given includes disbursements or third party fees.
Be aware that the doctor's fee, required for cremations where the coroner has not carried out an investigation, is now just £82. It used to be £164 to pay for two doctors to complete forms, but only one is required now. Some funeral director websites have not been updated.
There are several ways to hold a funeral, suiting various needs and budgets.
A traditional funeral generally involves a hearse and limousine meeting at the home of the deceased and travelling to one or two venues. This can be a pricey way of holding the funeral and not to everyone’s taste.
A simple funeral package
Many funeral directors, if you choose to use one, offer a simple funeral package, which can be one way of reducing the cost.
These packages generally include the funeral director’s advice and time in making arrangements, staff, wood-effect coffin, collecting the deceased during normal working hours, care of the body, and transporting them to the crematorium or sometimes cemetery.
Packages do vary so it is important to check what is included and what isn’t. Some simple funerals may not include:
- Viewing the deceased
- Dressing the deceased in their own clothes
- Holding the funeral on certain days or times
- A choice of coffin
- A limousine to transport family or friends
There is no requirement to use a funeral director.
If you choose to use one remember that, like anything else you pay for, you should be happy with the price you are paying and the service you receive.
Tips for choosing a funeral director:
- Get quotes from several funeral directors to compare
- Ask for a written estimate of costs before you decide
- When you are advised of the cost, make sure it includes any disbursements or third-party fees
- Ask funeral directors if they can help you organise a simple funeral within your budget
- Ask for payment terms and be aware that they often ask for a deposit before the funeral can take place, some ask for all payment in advance.
- Tell them if you are applying for the Social Fund Funeral Expenses Payment or Funeral Support Payment, or for any charitable grants, in case they can offer a lower deposit or wait for the outcome of these applications before going ahead
Our funeral costs helpline is staffed by an expert team who can offer you free and confidential advice about help with funeral costs anywhere in the UK.
Our experienced advisors have supported thousands of people across the UK to plan, reduce costs, identify ways to raise money, and get the right government support.