How does the cost of a funeral breakdown?

Essentially, the cost of a funeral can be broken down into three categories:

1. Funeral director fees 2. Third-party fees 3. Optional extras
The cost of a funeral director to help arrange all aspects of the funeral, as well as provide a coffin, hearse and limousines. Fees for the cremation or burial to take place, the minister or celebrant to lead the ceremony and the doctors’ fees to sign medical certification. For all the additional elements you may choose to include to help personalise a funeral. These may be flowers, order of service, memorial, and so on.


Funeral director fees + Third-party-fees + Optional extras = Total funeral expenditure

The amount you may spend on each of these categories depends on where the funeral takes place, the type of funeral it is (cremation or burial) and how you choose to personalise the send-off.

Continue reading for a full breakdown of funeral fees and charges. We also explore typical funeral costs for cremation and burial as well as funeral costs in different regions.

If you’re thinking about prepaying your funeral costs, and want to avoid future price hikes, then get in touch with Reassured to learn about our prepaid funeral plans.

Concerned about funeral costs? Visit our funerals on a budget guide for plenty of money-saving tips.

How much does a basic funeral cost?

The average cost of a basic funeral is currently £4,184 according to the SunLife Cost of Dying report (12.6% of the average salary).

This amount breaks down into two categories:

  1. Funeral director fees
  2. Third-party fees (for cremation or burial)

A basic funeral becomes a proper send-off when you start to add optional extras, such as flowers, order sheets and limousines (the elements that make it more of a personal occasion).

In 2020, people spent on average £2,532 on optional extras when arranging their loved one’s funeral.

£4,184 + £2,532 = £6,716 Total average cost of a funeral

As mentioned, the actual cost of a funeral will depend on various factors (some within our control and some out of our control). These include:

  • The location of the funeral
    Funeral fees and charges vary across the UK, with some regions having higher costs than others
  • The type of funeral
    The average cost of a cremation funeral is currently £3,885 and the average cost of a burial funeral is currently £5,033[1]
  • The level of service and personalisation
    Non-standard additional items and services. The more you choose to include, the higher the cost of the funeral

This table shows a breakdown of basic funeral costs for cremation, burial, direct cremation and direct burial:

Type of funeralAverage UK costBasic funeral costs
Cremation£3,885
  • Funeral director fees
  • Third-party fees:
    - Minister or celebrant fees
    - Cremation fees
    - Doctors’ fees (medical certificate)
Burial£5,033
  • Funeral director fees
  • Third-party fees:
    - Minister or celebrant fees
    - Burial fees (burial plot and interment)
    - Church or chapel fees
Direct cremation£1,554
  • Funeral director fees for basic services
  • Coffin and transport
  • Return of ashes
  • Third-party fees:
    - Cremation fees
    - Doctor’s fees
Direct burialN/A
  • Funeral director fees for basic services
  • Coffin and transport
  • Pallbearers
  • Third-party fees:
    - Burial fees

Let’s look at the three main funeral costs in more detail…

1. Funeral director fees

Funeral directors provide a vital role in supporting bereaved family members and ensuring that the funeral is arranged according to their wishes.

They liaise with the necessary third-parties and make sure the funeral runs smoothly on the day.

Funeral directors across the UK tend to offer all-inclusive funeral packages with fixed pricing. However, they can also tailor their services to suit specific needs and budgets.

Standard funeral director services, for either cremation or burial, may include:

  • Collection of the deceased and caring for them at the funeral home
  • Preparation of the deceased for the funeral
  • Completion of the legal paperwork
  • Chapel of rest for family viewing
  • Liaising with third parties e.g. crematorium or cemetery
  • Providing a coffin and hearse
  • Pallbearers for carrying the coffin
  • Limousines
  • Advice on additional extras for the funeral

According to the SunLife Cost of Dying Report 2020, funeral director fees were the highest of all funeral costs - at £2,687 on average.


2. Third-party fees

Third-party fees are for additional services that aren’t provided by a funeral director but are necessary for a traditional funeral.

Typical third-party fees include:

  • Minister or celebrant fees - for leading the ceremony
  • Cremation or burial fees - for the crematorium to carry out the cremation or the cemetery to carry out the burial
  • Doctor’s fees - for cremation certificates (applicable to cremation funeral only)

They may also include fees for a church or cemetery chapel service.

In 2019, third-party fees for a cremation funeral cost around £1,200 and third-party fees for a burial funeral cost around £2,300 (on average).

Some places in the UK have considerably higher cremation fees and burial fees, such as London and the South East/East of England.


3. Optional extras

Optional extras are for all the other elements of a funeral that make it special and personal.

They may be included as part of the service, such as a bespoke floral arrangement, or they may be separate costs for arranging the wake, such as catering.

Whilst personalisation is an important aspect of organising someone’s last goodbye, it can significantly increase the overall cost.

Optional extras include but are not limited to:

  • Flowers
  • Death notice
  • Funeral notice
  • Additional limo hire
  • Order/service sheets
  • Memorial
  • Catering for wake
  • Venue hire
  • Viewing of the body
  • Embalming
  • Live music
  • Recorded music
  • Live streaming of service

As mentioned, people who’d arranged a funeral in 2020 spent on average £2,532 on optional extras.

Additional funeral related costs

When arranging a loved one’s funeral, you may also be responsible for dealing with their estate.

If you choose to hire a professional such as an accountant or solicitor to manage probate and administer the estate on your behalf, then you’d need to pay their service fees.

According to the Cost of Dying report, people spent on average £2,547 on professional fees in 2020.

£4,184 + £2,532 + £2,547 = £9,263 Total cost of dying (on average)

There are some cases in which you won’t need to hire a professional. For example, a family member or friend could take on the responsibility, especially if the estate is small and uncomplicated.

Breakdown of funeral costs: Burial

These days, burial funerals are far less common than cremation funerals in the UK and they can cost much more.

The average price of a funeral with burial is currently £5,033. This amount is based on the total average cost of:

  1. Funeral director fees
  2. Third-party fees

Third-party fees for a burial funeral breakdown as follows:

  • Minister or celebrant fees - for leading the ceremony
  • Burial fees - for the interment (the burial itself) and Exclusive Rights of Burial (to purchase the grave space)
  • Church fees - for holding the ceremony in a church or other place of worship

Burial fees are variable depending on where you’re having the burial in the UK.

For example, in London, the average cost of a burial funeral is currently £7,816 whereas in North West England the average cost is much lower at £4,152.


Additional burial costs may include:

  • Optional extras (flowers, order of service, limo hire, catering, memorial etc)
  • Embalming if necessary
  • Fee to assemble memorial
  • Memorial maintenance

See our comprehensive cost of burial UK guide for more information »

Breakdown of funeral costs: Cremation

The average cost of a funeral with cremation is currently £3,885 in the UK. This amount is based on the total average cost of:

  1. Funeral director fees
  2. Third-party fees

Third-party fees for a cremation funeral breakdown as follows:

  • Minister or celebrant fees - for leading the ceremony
  • Cremation fees - for the crematorium to carry out the cremation
  • Doctors’ fees – for cremation certificates

Cremation fees vary significantly across the UK. 

For example, in the South East of England, the average cost of a cremation funeral is currently £4,600 whereas in Northern Ireland the average cost stands at £3,322.


Additional cremation costs include:

  • Optional extras (flowers, order of service, limo hire, catering, memorial etc)
  • Embalming if necessary
  • Urn for ashes
  • Scattering of ashes (if there’s a charge for this)
  • Interment fee for burial of ashes
  • Fee to assemble memorial
  • Memorial maintenance

See our comprehensive cost of cremation UK guide for more information »

Breakdown of funeral costs: Direct cremation

Direct cremation is the low-cost and fuss-free alternative to a traditional cremation funeral with full-length service.

In 2020, 14% of all funerals in the UK were direct cremations and these cost on average £1,554 (60% less than the average cremation funeral).

Typical direct cremation costs breakdown as follows:

  • Funeral director fees - for transportation and care of the deceased
  • Basic coffin
  • Third-party fees (cremation fees, doctors’ fees)
  • Return of ashes in a simple container

Direct cremations are less expensive than traditional funerals because they exclude ceremonial aspects.

There’s no funeral service, so there’s no need to pay for optional extras such as flowers, limousines and funeral music.

95% of funeral directors in the UK can offer a direct cremation option. Some of the better-known providers that specialise in direct cremation include Simplicity Cremations and Pure Cremation.


The cost of a simple direct cremation is low, but depending on what choices you make, there are additional fees and charges to consider. These include:

  • Urn for ashes
  • Scattering of ashes (if there’s a charge for this)
  • Interment fee for burial of ashes
  • A memorial and fees to assemble if necessary

Breakdown of funeral costs: Direct burial

Direct burial is another low-cost alternative to a traditional funeral, allowing a burial to go ahead without the usual ceremonial elements.

Typical direct burial costs breakdown as follows:

  • Funeral director fees - for transportation and care of the deceased
  • Basic coffin
  • Pallbearers

Some direct burial packages will include the cost of interment (the burial itself).


Direct burial usually costs more than a direct cremation because the fees tend to be higher.

Additional burial fees and charges:

  • Burial fees – for interment and burial plot (Exclusive Rights of Burial)
  • A memorial and fees to assemble if necessary

Funeral costs across the UK

As mentioned, funeral fees and charges vary significantly from region to region.

Where you live or where you choose to hold the funeral can impact the overall cost.

London is usually the most expensive place to have a funeral, whilst Northern Ireland tends to be the cheapest.

Region Average funeral cost
London £5,235
South East & East England £5,007
East and West Midlands £4,488
Yorkshire and the Humber £4,270
North East England £3,826
North West England £3,785
Wales £3,718
Northern Ireland £3,222
NATIONAL AVERAGE £4,184

How much does a funeral cost in your area?

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This calculator uses data from the SunLife Cost of Dying Report 2021 and should only be used as a guide.

Funeral costs across the world

The average cost of a funeral is relatively high in the UK. But how does this compare to other countries?

We’ve listed 3 of the most expensive countries and 3 of the least expensive countries to have a funeral:

Country Average funeral cost
Japan £22,320
Germany £6,246
USA £5,858
Brazil £358
Russia £236
India £96


Japan has the highest average cost at an incredible £22,320 - which is an enormous 68.3% of their average salary. If we had to spend this percentage amount in the UK, the average funeral would cost £23,892.

India has the lowest funeral cost at just £96 - which is only 2.4% of their salary.

Germany is the most expensive European country to have a funeral by a considerable amount. The Netherlands is not far behind at £5,440 followed by the UK at £4,184.

Ways to save on funeral costs

Whilst some death-related costs will be out of your control, other expenses for a funeral can be managed or cut back if needed.

Here are some ways you can reduce funeral costs as per each category:

Funeral director fees

  • Compare quotes from several different funeral directors in your local area, some will be independent, and others will be owned by larger companies so prices may differ
  • Ask about their low-cost funeral options. Most funeral directors can offer direct cremation and/or direct burial packages
  • Pallbearers are an additional unnecessary cost. Ask family/friends if they would like to carry the coffin, or you could ask the funeral director to provide a wheeled bier
  • You may consider an alternative hearse. An estate car or transit van could be perfectly suitable options that won’t carry a big price tag
  • Spend less on the coffin. An eco-friendly coffin or shroud are cheaper alternatives
  • Have a DIY ‘Do it Yourself’ funeral. This means organising most aspects of the funeral yourself with help from other family members

Third-party fees

  • Consider a cremation instead of a burial, as cremation fees are much lower in the UK
  • Have a family member or friend lead the ceremony at the church or crematorium to save on minister’s fees
  • Hold the ceremony at an off-peak time. For example, early morning weekday slots tend to be the cheapest

Optional extras

  • Spend less on flowers. Perhaps family and friends could pitch in to pay for a simple coffin floral arrangement?
  • Print the order of service at home if you have the necessary equipment
  • Create an online invitation using social media such as Facebook
  • Don’t hire limousines. Ask people to drive themselves to the venue or arrange a multi-seat taxi, which will cost much less
  • Have the wake at someone’s house and ask people to bring a plate, saving on catering costs and venue hire
  • Memorials are one of the biggest send-off costs. Be aware that some memorials require ongoing maintenance, such as grave headstones. You may also be charged fees for adding or removing a memorial. If you choose a woodland funeral or natural burial, you could opt for a natural memorial such as a tree or plant, which is low-cost on a long-term basis

Need help with funeral costs?

Sometimes, there isn’t enough money to pay for a funeral. If this is the case, then there are some ways you can get help to cover costs.

  • Funeral Expenses Payment
    This is provided by the government to help those with low income cover funeral expenses. It usually covers the basic cremation or burial services and there’s a small contribution towards funeral director fees and optional extras. You’d need to be receiving certain welfare benefits and/or tax credits to be eligible for the payment. You can find out more on the government website
  • Public Health Funeral or ‘Pauper’s funeral
    The local council can step in to provide a basic funeral if there’s no money at all. You’d need to provide a written statement renouncing responsibility of funeral costs and they’ll take care of arrangements. Pauper’s funerals won’t include the funeral notice, flowers, transport or viewings at the chapel of rest
  • Body donation
    This isn’t something that can be arranged after someone dies, as they will need to provide consent to be a body donor. However, it’s possible to donate a body to science and remove the cost of funeral arrangements. Medical schools keep donors for several years before having them cremated
  • Crowd-funding
    Online fundraising for funeral expenses is not unheard of these days. You can use a platform such as Go Fund Me or Just Giving to share your unique story and ask family, friends and the general public to kindly donate. Be mindful that there’s no guarantee you’ll raise all the money you need

Prepaid funeral costs (pay in advance and freeze rising costs)

A prepaid funeral plan allows you to pay in advance for your own funeral and at today’s price.

By locking in today’s costs, you can protect loved ones from higher prices in the future.

A funeral plan also allows you to organise your funeral and record your final wishes ahead of time.

This means that when the time comes, your loved ones won’t have to worry about the details because they would’ve already been taken care of.

A funeral plan covers the essential services for the type of funeral you want to have. Reassured can help you arrange a funeral plan for cremation, burial or direct cremation.

You can also choose to pay in full or spread the cost in monthly payments so that it’s affordable.

For more information, visit our funeral plans page or get in touch with our friendly team.

We’re an award-winning broker and we don’t charge a fee for our services.

Sources:

[1] SunLife (2021), Cost of Dying Report, sunlife.co.uk/costofdying2021

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