What is the cheapest way to be cremated in the UK?

The cheapest way to be cremated is to have a direct cremation, also known as ‘cremation without ceremony’ or ‘unattended cremation’.

A direct cremation is the cheapest cremation because there’s no funeral service or ceremony before the cremation.

According to the 2022 SunLife Cost of Dying report:

  • A direct cremation costs £1,647 on average in the UK[1]
  • In 2021, 18% of all funerals in the UK were described as direct cremation (up from just 4% in 2019)
  • More and more people are choosing direct cremation as an alternative to a traditional funeral, particularly due to the Covid-19 pandemic

Whether you’re planning ahead for your own funeral or arranging a funeral for a loved one today, this guide will help to explain:

  • What is a direct cremation?
  • How much does a cremation cost?
  • What happens at a direct cremation?
  • What is the cheapest way to be cremated?
  • What is the difference between a funeral with cremation and a direct cremation?
  • Can I arrange my own cremation?

Please note, Reassured is unable to offer a prepaid funeral plan for direct cremation. However, we can help arrange funeral cover for a traditional cremation or burial funeral

Protect loved ones with a SunLife Guaranteed Funeral Plan

The SunLife Guaranteed Funeral Plan is an insurance policy which guarantees to cover the cost of your chosen funeral services after two years.

It’s an affordable way to pay for your cremation funeral in advance and protect loved ones from the financial worry in the future.

You can choose from two different levels of cover, depending on your needs and budget.

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Services covered in each funeral cover option include:

  • Cremation fees
  • Cremation service
  • Coffin
  • Hearse
  • Return of ashes

Premiums begin from just £19.18 a month ^ and a pay out is guaranteed after two years.

You can take out a SunLife Guaranteed Funeral Plan if you’re a UK resident aged 50 - 80.

Get in touch with our award-winning broker service today to learn more about the funeral cover we have available and to compare your free, no-obligation quotes.

What is a direct cremation?

Direct cremation is a cremation without a funeral service or ceremony beforehand.

It means a cremation takes places straight away, at a time and date decided by the crematorium, with no attendees.

After the cremation, the ashes are either scattered at the crematorium gardens or returned to the family.

Direct cremation is typically chosen by people who don’t want a lot of fuss for their funeral; or it may be the right choice for financial reasons.

Some families choose to hold a memorial service or celebration of life for their loved one once the ashes have been returned.

How much does a cremation cost?

A direct cremation costs on average £1,647 in the UK[1].

This amount includes the average cost of:

  • A cremation at a crematorium
  • Transportation, care and preparation of the person who's passed
  • Doctors' fees to sign the medical certificates
  • A basic coffin
  • Return of ashes

With a direct cremation, you don’t need to pay for additional extras that are usually part of a traditional funeral.

For example, there’s no need to spend money on:

  • Minister or celebrant fees
  • A service at the crematorium
  • Funeral notices
  • Flowers
  • Limousines
  • Embalming
  • Order of service sheets

Direct cremation packages start from as little as £895, although it’s important to read the small print to find out what's included in the price of a plan, and what’s not.

Factors that can determine the overall cost of a direct cremation include:

  • Where the crematorium is in the country as prices vary from region to region
  • If the person needs to be collected from home or from a nursing home (there may be an additional fee for this)
  • The size of the coffin (if a larger one is needed then there could be an additional fee)
  • If the ashes need to be returned or collected, or if these are scattered in the crematorium garden
  • If a burial plot is purchased for the interment of ashes

Top 5 cheap direct cremation funeral packages:

  1. Farewill Direct Cremation - £895
  2. Affordable Funerals Direct Cremation - from £950
  3. Simplicity Cremations Unattended Funeral - £995
  4. Respect Express Cremations Direct Cremation - from £1,145
  5. Pure Cremation Direct Cremation - £1,195

Prices have been taken from the separate providers' websites and are accurate as of 13/04/2022

How much does a funeral with a cremation cost?

A basic cremation funeral costs on average £3,765 in the UK.

This amount includes the average cost of:

  • Transportation, care and preparation of the person who’s passed
  • A funeral service at a crematorium or place of worship
  • Doctors’ fees to sign the medical certificates
  • Minister or celebrant to conduct the ceremony
  • A cremation at a crematorium
  • A coffin, hearse and limousine

In 2021, people also spent on average £2,484 on additional extras which make the send-off.

Additional extras include:

  • Death and funeral notices
  • Flowers
  • A memorial
  • Extra limousines
  • Order of service sheets
  • Catering and venue hire for the wake

For this reason, the cheapest way to be cremated in the UK is by having a direct cremation.

What happens at a direct cremation?

What happens before, during and after a direct cremation is usually as follows:

  1. The funeral provider arranges collection of the body in a specialised vehicle
  2. The body is taken to the mortuary and cared for until the cremation
  3. The cremation takes place straight away - the time and date decided by the crematorium
  4. Only the crematorium staff are present for the cremation
  5. After the cremation, the ashes are prepared and placed in a simple container.
  6. The ashes are either scattered at the grounds of the crematorium or returned to family

As there is no funeral service, some families choose to arrange a separate memorial or celebration of life at a time and place to suit them.

What’s the difference between a funeral with cremation and a direct cremation?

The differences between the services that may be included in a standard funeral with cremation and a those of a direct cremation are shown in the table below:

ServiceStandard cremationDirect cremation
Guidance and advice from a professional funeral planner List icon List icon
Collection, transportation and care the deceased List icon List icon
Choice of time and date for cremation List icon Cross
Choice of crematorium List icon Cross
Choice of coffin List icon Cross
Pallbearers List icon Cross
Viewing of the deceased at the chapel of rest List icon Cross
Hearse or choice of alternative vehicle List icon Cross
Funeral procession with limousines List icon Cross
Funeral service at church or crematorium chapel on the day of the committal List icon Cross
Return of ashes List icon List icon

What is the cheapest way to be cremated, other than a direct cremation?

Whilst a direct cremation is the cheapest way to be cremated, it won’t be the right way for everyone.

For example, some people don’t want the fuss and expense of a traditional funeral service, but they would still like a few family and friends to come together for a small ceremony before the cremation.

Fortunately, there are other options available to suit different needs and budgets:

Simple funerals with Simplicity Cremations

Simplicity Cremations arrange direct cremations and simple cremation funerals.

Their simple cremation funerals start from as little as £1,395 and include the option to have a family-led service at the crematorium before the cremation.

This can be a short service with a limited number of people or a full-length service with unlimited attendees.

The price is low because, like with direct cremation, there’s no formal funeral service and no need to pay for additional extras such as embalming, officiant fees or a high-quality coffin.

Simplicity also provide prepaid cremation only funeral plans from £1,495.

Do It Yourself’ funeral

A Do It Yourself (DIY) funeral means family members would handle all the arrangements of the funeral instead of using a funeral director.

A DIY funeral would include the following arrangements:

  • Caring for the deceased before the cremation
  • Booking the cremation with the crematorium
  • Organising the paperwork e.g. cremation certificate, medical certificate
  • Sourcing and purchasing a suitable coffin or casket
  • Arranging and holding the funeral service or ceremony
  • Arranging or providing transport for the deceased to and from the crematorium
  • Organising of the order of service, flowers, venue, catering and so on

This type of funeral may save you money but could also be stressful for the family particularly whilst they are grieving.

Donate body to science for a free cremation

This may be more difficult with the threat of coronavirus still looming - but it could be possible to donate your body to science and this wouldn’t cost your family a penny[2].

Medical institutes across the UK accept body donors for anatomical examination, research and education.

The institute may arrange a cremation and memorial for donations, or the family could request the body to be returned so that they can have a private burial or cremation.

This may not be a preferable option for some people due to religious reasons or family tradition.

Other ways you could save money on cremation funeral costs:

Shop around for the best prices

Find the cheapest cremation in your area by shopping around and comparing the prices and services offered by local funeral providers and crematoriums.

Some of the bigger providers, such as the Co-op, offer a broad range of funeral services at competitive prices.

Cut back on optional extras

In 2021, people spent on average £2,484 on flowers, limousines, venue hire and catering. If you want to make big savings on a cremation funeral, this is a good place to start.

The family could arrange their own transport, flowers could be kept to a minimum and the wake could be held in someone’s home free of charge.

How do you cremate someone with no money?

If you’re unable to arrange and/or pay for the funeral of a loved one who has passed away and there isn’t enough money remaining from their estate to cover the funeral, then the following options may be available:

  • The local council or hospital can arrange a Public Health Funeral, (or ‘Pauper’s funeral’)
    A Public Health Funeral is usually a basic cremation and includes a short funeral service that loved ones can attend
  • Those on certain benefits can claim a Funeral Expenses Payment from the government[3]
    A Funeral Expenses Payment may help cover some funeral costs such as the cremation fees, doctors’ fees, and moving of the body. How much you get will depend on your individual circumstances
  • Raise funds by using a crowdfunding platform
    You could fund a funeral by sharing your story on a crowdfunding platform such as Crowdfunder.co.uk or GoFundMe. Although, it’s difficult to know exactly how much you’ll be able to raise and if you’ll have enough in time for the funeral

Can I arrange my own cremation?

Yes, it’s possible to arrange your own cremation in advance. One way to do this is by taking out funeral cover through Reassured.

You can choose a funeral cover option according to the services you’d like it to include and how much you’d like to spend.

At Reassured, we can’t help you arrange a direct cremation prepaid plan, but we can help you arrange a SunLife Guaranteed Funeral Plan which covers a simple cremation funeral.

Benefits of funeral cover arranged through Reassured:

  • Acceptance is guaranteed to UK applicants aged 50 - 80
  • Your chosen funeral services are guaranteed after two years
  • Pay out is protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS)
  • Premiums begin from £19.18 a month

Making financial provisions for your funeral today will help to alleviate a lot of worry and stress for your loved ones when the time comes.

Compare cremation funeral cover through us today, free of charge.


[1] SunLife (2022), Cost of Dying Report, sunlife.co.uk/funeral-costs

[2] https://www.hta.gov.uk/donating-your-body

[3] https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/help-paying-for-a-funeral

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