A Guide to Burial Costs & Arrangements

Information on arranging a burial and the costs involved

Last updated: 28 March 2019

flowers in a graveyard

Burial is an ancient process, dating back as far as 130,000 years ago, and it still remains a popular funeral planning choice today.

Burial costs

The cost of a burial is usually the same as a cremation, in terms of the funeral directors’ fee. However, the cost of a grave is generally more expensive, making burial arrangements slightly more expensive than cremation overall.

You should bear in mind that you are not buying the actual plot of land, but the rights to have a burial there. The law states that a grave may only be ‘leased’ for up to 100 years at a time. You will therefore be given the option to ‘top-up’ your lease over time.

It is also important to remember that if your loved was not a resident of the area you wish to bury them in, the cost may be significantly more.

For a standard burial (single depth, in a coffin), the cost varies from a couple of hundred pounds (rural Wales) to several thousand pounds (Greater London), so it is always worth asking for an estimate before you go ahead with planning a burial.

Your loved one’s wishes

When deciding how to plan a funeral and burial, many people will take their loved one’s wishes into account. However, you may feel that you are unable to afford aspects of those wishes, so it is important to know that you are not legally required to do so.

If you are concerned about the cost of a burial, find out if you may be entitled to financial support.

Arranging a burial

If you have appointed the services of a funeral director, they will take care of most of the burial arrangements. If you wish to organise it yourself, you will need to contact the cemetery directly. In such a case the cemetery will require the following information:

  • Name, address and age of your loved one
  • The date and time of the funeral
  • Details of the person arranging the funeral
  • Coffin size
  • Funeral type (whether it is religious or not)

If you have already bought a lease for a grave, you will also need to submit your grave number.

Burial service

If you decide on a burial for your loved one, you may wish to hold a burial or graveside service. This is usually a short service held after the main funeral service as the coffin is lowered into the ground. Often the person leading the service will invite mourners to attend the burial at the end of the funeral.

The burial service may include a short prayer or reading, depending on preference and religious beliefs. Another common tradition is for the bereaved to scatter soil onto the coffin once it has been lowered. Some people also choose to throw flowers.

Occasionally, people may choose to hold a graveside service as the main funeral ceremony. In this case, chairs can be set up beside the grave for the closest friends and family members. However, bear in mind that graveside services are outdoors and will be subject to weather conditions.

Legal requirements

You must ensure that you have registered the death before arranging the funeral. You will be issued with a Certificate for Burial. This is needed for a burial to take place.

Note that if the death has been referred to a coroner, that you will not receive this certificate. You will often be required to complete and sign a form called ‘Order for an Interment’. This completes a binding contract over the burial.

Headstones and memorials

You are not legally required to provide a headstone or a memorial for a grave. However, most people choose to get one made, whether it is weeks, months or even years after the burial.

Once a headstone or a memorial has been ordered, it takes an average 8-12 weeks to be completed. The headstone cannot be placed until the ground settles; this can take around six months.

The cost of erecting a gravestone or memorial may be included in the price, but be sure to ask beforehand if this is the case.

Green burials

Green burials are a fairly new concept, but are rapidly gaining popularity. They are more environmentally friendly than traditional burials and usually take place in woodland or meadows.

There is no gravestone or memorial for a green burial, however. The bereaved sometimes choose to mark the site of the grave with a tree, or may choose to let it become part of the surrounding natural landscape

There are now over 260 green burial sites in the UK. Prices can vary widely, depending on where you live.