Burial costs UK

In 2019, only 23% of funerals in the UK were with burials - a 4% drop from the year before[1].

Yet, prices have continued to rise and the average cost of a basic funeral with burial now stands at £4,975.

But how does this cost breakdown? And does it include the cost of a burial plot?

Reassured have provided this complete guide on the cost of burial UK, with everything you need to know.

We also look at the cheapest and most expensive places to have a burial, why a burial is more expensive than a cremation and how you can save money on burial costs.

The data in this article has been sourced from the SunLife Cost of Dying Report 2020.

Freeze rising burial costs with a prepaid funeral plan

Burial costs in the UK have risen 136% in the last 16 years; much faster than the rate of inflation.

Based on this, funeral costs are predicted to rise a further 20% in the next 5 years.

However, a prepaid funeral plan allows you to pay for your funeral at today’s rate, protecting loved ones from higher funeral costs in the future.

It also allows you to arrange the funeral yourself, relieving this difficult burden from your loved ones.

Reassured can compare quotes from a variety of plan providers on your behalf, helping you find the one that’s most suitable.

Make the most of our award-winning, FCA registered service today - we don’t charge a fee.

How much does a burial cost?

According to the Cost of Dying report, the national average cost of a basic burial funeral is currently £4,975.

This amount includes the average cost of funeral directors’ services (to arrange and carry out the funeral), which are £2,687 and the average cost of burial fees (including burial plot), which are £2,288.

Burial funeral costs Average cost
Funeral director fees £2,687
Burial fees £2,288

However, the cost of burial will vary depending on numerous factors including the level of service chosen for the funeral, the location of the funeral and the burial ground, as well as the type of burial plot.

This amount also excludes the cost of optional extras, such as flower arrangements, a memorial and holding a wake.

Burial costs breakdown

Funeral director fees are for the professional services carried out by the funeral director and staff at the funeral.

Here’s a description of what both costs entail.

1. Funeral director fees

Funeral director fees are for the professional services carried out by the funeral director and staff at the funeral.

Services provided for the average cost of £2,687 include:

  • Transportation, care and preparation of the deceased
  • Professional guidance and advice
  • All the necessary arrangements
  • Funeral personnel such as pallbearers
  • Viewing at the chapel of rest
  • A limousine for the procession
  • Provision of a hearse
  • A standard coffin

The level of service provided by a funeral director is changeable depending on the needs and budget of a client.

For example, you may feel that having a limousine is unnecessary as family members can drive their own vehicles to the venue.

It’s not obligatory to use a funeral director, however, many people choose to appoint the services of a professional to support them through this difficult time.

2. Burial fees

Burial fees are for the services required to carry out the burial itself and for the service following the burial.

Services provided for the average cost of £2,288 include:

  • A new burial plot (double-depth)*
  • Use of church, verger, and organist
  • Minister or celebrant to hold the ceremony

The funeral director may take payment for burial fees as they tend to coordinate the burial and services on the client’s behalf.

Cost of burial UK infographic

Cost of a burial plot UK

Burial fees, as described above, include the cost of burial in a new double-depth burial plot.

Burial plots are actually leased for a period of time, rather than purchased permanently.

A lease is called an Exclusive Right of Burial and typically lasts between 50 - 100 years[2].

It ensures that multiple family members can use the burial plot and that no-one else can be buried there during that time.

The cost of a burial plot ranges from a few hundred pounds to a few thousand pounds depending on the location of the cemetery.

Other factors that determine the cost of a burial plot include:

  • The cemetery or graveyard
    Whether it’s owned by the council, by the church or if it’s privately owned and how much they charge for a burial
  • The residential status of the deceased
    Council run cemeteries provide residents with a discounted rate
  • The location of the burial ground
    Woodland burials tend to be less expensive than cemetery burials
  • Size of the burial plot
    Different size plots can be purchased depending on the length of the lease and how many people will be buried there

As the cost of a burial plot varies so greatly across the UK, this cost cannot be covered in a prepaid funeral plan. However, a plot can be arranged and paid for in advance separately to a prepaid funeral plan.

Optional burial costs

Optional burial costs are for the additional elements of a funeral that aren’t essential but tend to be included.

The table below shows how much people spent on average in 2019 on the optional extras for a burial funeral:

Optional extras Average cost
Memorial headstone £910
Catering £408
Additional limousine hire £313
Venue hire £245
Flowers £184
Order sheets £88
Death notice £82

Adding these additional costs to the cost of burial in the UK brings the total average up to £7,281.

Other optional extras may include:

  • Embalming
  • An alternative hearse
  • Memorial masonry & maintenance

Protect loved ones from the expense of your burial funeral with a prepaid funeral plan. See our funeral plan guide to learn more.

Cost of burial where you live

The average cost of a basic burial funeral varies significantly from region to region in the UK.

Find out the average cost of burial in your area using the table below:

Region Average cost
London £7,635
South East & East of England £5,474
Yorkshire and the Humber £5,077
East and West Midlands £5,070
South West England £5,004
Scotland £4,943
North East England £4,630
North West England £4,220
Wales £4,187
Northern Ireland £3,507

With no surprise, London is the most expensive location for a burial funeral. In fact, it’s a staggering 53.5% above the national average.

London has the most expensive cemeteries, and the cost of a burial plot is much higher in the city than any other region.

According to the Funeral Guide, Highgate Cemetery in London charges £21,975 for a burial (including the burial plot). However, this is more than twice as expensive as the average for the city.

Northern Ireland is the least expensive location for a burial funeral. In fact, it’s almost 30% below the national average.

Cost of burial at sea UK

The logistics of arranging a burial at sea can be complicated, which subsequently has an impact on the cost.

Firstly, a self-service marine license for sea burial must be purchased from the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), which costs £50[3].

Secondly, the services of a funeral director (perhaps with experience of arranging burials at sea) may be required.

They may charge upwards of a few thousand pounds, much like a traditional funeral on land.

There are also requirements as to the type of coffin and how it’s prepared for a sea burial.

For example, it must have holes drilled throughout and there must have 200kg of metal or concrete clamped to the base to ensure that the coffin sinks to the seabed.

There will also be third-party services to consider, including a boat hire company and crew that are experienced and equipped with handling a burial at sea.

This may cost an additional few thousand pounds. For example, ‘Burials at Sea’ based on the Isle of Wight charge a fixed rate fee of £2,385 for their services[4].

For an additional cost, they can arrange a suitable coffin, additional boat hire for mourners and liaise with a funeral director on your behalf.

There are three different locations in England where burials at sea are permitted to take place:

  1. The Needles, Isle of Wight
  2. Between Hastings and Newhaven
  3. Tynemouth, North Tyneside

Cost of burial vs cremation UK

Burial costs are significantly higher than cremation costs in the UK.

This is because, for a cremation, there’s no need to purchase a burial plot. Ashes can be scattered at the crematorium or at a place of meaning to the person who has passed, and there’s usually no cost for this.

With a burial, there’s more need to incorporate optional extras such as embalming for the funeral or a permanent memorial for the grave.

According to research carried out by SunLife, the average cost of a basic cremation funeral in the UK is £3,858.

Freeze your cremation or burial costs with a prepaid funeral plan through Reassured.

Plans start from as little as £20.38 a month and protect loved ones from higher funeral prices in the future.

How can you reduce the cost of burial?

Funeral expenses can cause a lot of financial stress for a family, particularly if a death is unexpected.

But there are several ways you can reduce the cost of a burial and minimise the financial impact.

  • Consider a direct burial
    A direct burial is a simple, straightforward burial without a funeral service or any mourners present. Many funeral directors will offer this option as an affordable alternative to a traditional burial
  • Consider a cremation
    Avoid burial fees and memorial costs by choosing to have a cremation
  • Compare quotes
    Compare prices from several funeral directors to secure the best value. Also, ensure that the funeral director you choose is regulated by the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA)
  • Keep it simple
    Request a simple funeral package with a simple coffin and no limousines for the procession. Floral displays and other personalised elements can be kept to a minimum or put together by loved ones
  • Have a DIY funeral
    This is when family members take on all the funeral arrangements themselves, instead of using a funeral director

By planning ahead for your own funeral, you could reduce the cost of burial for your family when the time comes.

This is because by taking out a prepaid funeral plan, you can pay for your essential funeral services in advance and lock-in today’s price for these.

Whilst funeral costs continue to rise at an unprecedented rate, a funeral plan could protect your loved ones from higher funeral prices in the future.

Learn more by getting in touch with the dedicated funeral plan team at Reassured.

Burial funeral plans

It’s hard to contemplate that one day someone in your family may be responsible for covering your funeral costs.

However, why not guarantee your peace of mind by taking out a prepaid funeral plan today?

A funeral plan covers your burial costs at today’s rate (excluding the cost of a burial plot) and ensures that your loved ones are financially protected when the time comes.

You can pay for a plan in full or spread the cost, simply choose a payment option to suit your budget.

Reassured can help you arrange a fully guaranteed, FPA approved funeral plan for burial that starts from as little as £20.38 a month.

Make the most of our award-winning service today to secure your free, personalised quote.


*The cost of a burial plot is not included in any prepaid funeral plan

£20.38 per month includes a £75 discount only available to Co-op members, based on a 50-year-old purchasing a Simple Funeral Plan at £3,220 after discount with 25 years payment term (total amount payable £6,115.40), as of 20th November 2020

[1] SunLife (2020), Cost of Dying Report, sunlife.co.uk/costofdying2020

[2] https://www.funeralguide.co.uk/blog/cremation-and-burial-costs

[3] https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-get-a-licence-for-a-burial-at-sea-in-england

[4] https://www.burialsatsea.co.uk/burials-at-sea/Funerals-at-sea-prices

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At Reassured, we will provide you with quotes from Co-op Funeral Care, Dignity Funeral Services and Simplicity Cremations.

All of the funeral plans we provide are fully regulated by the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA) ensuring you and your money are protected.

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