With David Bowie and novelist Anita Brookner among the latest people choosing a direct cremation, this less-expensive alternative to standard cremation is on the rise. Thinking about arranging a direct cremation? Here’s what you need to know.


What is direct cremation?

A “direct cremation” is a simple cremation without a service: no funeral, just a cremation. Less expensive than standard cremations, direct cremations usually take place outside of peak hours, when there is less demand at the crematorium. This keeps costs low and allows the family to hold a memorial service later on if they want to.


What are the benefits of direct cremation?

Last year, around 3% of bereaved families in the UK chose to arrange a direct, no-service cremation. Why? Well:

It’s simple and straightforward. Direct cremations often appeal to those who would like to keep things simple for their family when they die. Having a cremation without a funeral means that the bereaved don’t have to make tough decisions about coffin type, flowers, transport, venues and guests right away – or ever.

It costs less. The average cost of a funeral in the UK is £4,078, but direct cremation prices are usually less than half that. This makes it a good option if you’re on a budget, or if you’re not able to cover the full cost right away (although help with funeral costs is available).

It gives you more time to arrange the memorial service. Most funerals take place in the first few weeks after a death, but this time can be chaotic and overwhelming. With a direct cremation, families can postpone the memorial service until they’re ready.

Ready to make arrangements? Beyond offers a nationwide direct cremation service for just £1,195, including a solid wood eco-coffin and personal hand delivery of the ashes. Call 0800 054 9935 or visit our direct cremation page to find out more.


How does direct cremation work?

Your funeral director will take the person who has died into their care while they help you gather the paperwork for the crematorium:

  • The ‘green’ certificate for burial or cremation. This is given to you when you register the death.
  • The application for cremation form. This is usually given to you by the funeral director or direct cremation provider to sign, although it can be downloaded online. You may also be asked to fill out a form describing what you would like to be done with the ashes.
  • Two medical forms. These are the certificate of medical attendant (Forms 4) and the confirmatory medical certificate (CR5). The first is usually provided by the doctor who signed the medical certificate of death, while the other is signed by a separate, independent doctor. Both charge £82 each. Your direct cremation provider or funeral director will be able to help you get these. If the coroner is involved, they will provide cremation form 6 instead, free of charge.

With the forms in order, the funeral director will then take the body to the crematorium as soon as possible – usually, they’ll need at least two days. There’s no embalming or viewing of the body during this wait.

When the time comes, the body will be cremated in a low-cost coffin, in a process that usually takes about an hour and a half. Families aren’t able to choose the time or location of a direct cremation. Close family members are sometimes able to attend, but other mourners are not.

The ashes are generally ready to be collected within a week, after which the family might decide to hold a memorial service or simply gather together to scatter the ashes privately.


How much does direct cremation cost in the UK?

The average cost of a direct cremation depends on where you are in the UK, but you can expect to pay between £1,195 and £1,850. Standard direct cremation costs usually include:

  • The crematorium fee, including a simple container for the ashes: £753 on average.
  • Doctor’s fees: £164, or £0 if you’re in Scotland or the coroner was involved.
  • Simple wood-effect coffin: about £224.
  • Collection fee from the funeral director: about £500, according to the Money Advice Service.

Other optional costs you might consider are:

  • Cost of an urn: between £50 and £300, depending on the type of urn.
  • Cost to bury ashes in a cemetery: between £100 and £1,700.

When you compare direct cremation vs. cremation with a funeral, the most obvious difference is price: a standard cremation and service will cost around £3,500. Burial tends to cost even more (the average being £4,561).

That said, a lot of the people who choose direct cremation aren’t thinking about price, but simplicity – seeing it as a dignified, no-fuss alternative to the traditional funeral service.

Remember: If you are in England and Wales and arranging a funeral for a child, the new Children’s Funeral Fund will cover the council’s crematorium fee. Funeral directors will also often provide their services for free. This makes the total cost of a direct cremation much lower.


How to arrange a direct cremation

Beyond offers professional, reliable direct cremations across both England and Wales for just £1,195. If you’re in Scotland or Ireland, you can check for local providers using our find a funeral director tool: click here, add your postcode to the search bar, choose ‘cremation’ and then pick the ‘direct’ package to see direct cremation costs for your area and contact providers.


Have you arranged a direct cremation? How did it go? Share your stories with us in the comments below.

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