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

The cheapest way to be cremated is by having 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 2023 SunLife Cost of Dying report:

  • A direct cremation costs £1,511 on average in the UK[1]
  • In 2022, 18% of all funerals in the UK were described as direct cremation (up from just 4% in 2019)
  • Direct cremation has become more common as a lasting impact of the Covid-19 pandemic
  • 71% of people are now aware of this option, compared to 52% in 2019

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

Please note, Reassured are unable to sell funeral plans. If you are looking for a funeral plan we suggest you check the FCA register to find a regulated provider.

Help cover the cost of your cremation with an over 50s plan through Reassured

Over 50 life insurance is a policy which pays out a cash lump sum when you pass away, which could help towards your funeral costs.

If you’re a UK resident aged between 50 - 85, you’ll be guaranteed acceptance and no medical information is required.

The key features of an over 50s plan include:

  • Guaranteed pay out to your loved ones when you pass away
  • Funds can be used to help cover the cost of your cremation (or other costs in relation to your funeral)
  • Up to £20,000 of cover (depending on your personal circumstances and budget)
  • No medical questions asked (pricing is dependent on age, sum assured and smoking status)
  • Fast application process over the phone with our award-winning UK call centres
  • Can be purchased through Reassured from as little as 20p-a-day +

Why not check out our dedicated over 50 life insurance page for more details?

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 £1,511 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

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

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 2022, people also spent on average £2,669 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.

Reassured can provide over 50s life insurance to UK residents aged 50 - 85. The pay out could help cover the cost of your cremation.

Cover can cost from as little as 20p-a-day so why not contact one of our friendly team members for a fee-free, no-obligation quote?

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 Icon green tick Icon green tick
Collection, transportation and care the deceased Icon green tick Icon green tick
Choice of time and date for cremation Icon green tick Icon ruby cross
Choice of crematorium Icon green tick Icon ruby cross
Choice of coffin Icon green tick Icon ruby cross
Pallbearers Icon green tick Icon ruby cross
Viewing of the deceased at the chapel of rest Icon green tick Icon ruby cross
Hearse or choice of alternative vehicle Icon green tick Icon ruby cross
Funeral procession with limousines Icon green tick Icon ruby cross
Funeral service at church or crematorium chapel on the day of the committal Icon green tick Icon ruby cross
Return of ashes Icon green tick Icon green tick

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 members and friends to come together for a small ceremony before the cremation.

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

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.

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 offer a broad range of funeral services at competitive prices.

Cut back on optional extras

In 2022, people spent on average £2,669 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.

Take out an over 50s plan

An over 50s plan is designed to pay your loved ones a sum of money when you pass away, which could be used to help pay for your final send-off.

Acceptance for over 50 life insurance is guaranteed for UK residents between the age of 50 - 85, making it an attractive option for those in this age range whose main interest is to cover their funeral expenses.

A pay out is guaranteed to your loved ones and the money can be used to help cover the cost of your cremation to prevent them having to pay out the full amount from their own pockets at an already difficult time.

No medical information is required, and the sum assured you could secure is up to £20,000 depending on your age and budget.

Why not contact Reassured about over 50s life insurance today?

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

Covering your cremation

In 2022, 19% of families faced notable financial concerns when paying for a loved one’s funeral.

On average, they had to find £1,870 out of their own pocket to cover the whole cost.

If your family would struggle to come up with the money for your final farewell, then you may consider an over 50s plan to help ease some of the financial burden.

An over 50s plan guarantees acceptance to applicants aged 50 - 85 and guarantees a pay out when you pass away.

You don’t have to answer any medical questions when applying, even if you have a pre-existing health condition.


[1] https://www.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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