Arranging a Funeral

A funeral can be either by burial or by cremation. You can organise it with or without the help of a funeral director, and personalise it as much as you wish. In some cases the deceased may have planned their own funeral in advance.


Bear in mind that you can't finalise the date for the funeral until after the death has been registered. If the death has to be reported to the coroner, the date when the funeral can be held will be affected.

Taking the deceased person's wishes into account

Remember to check the deceased person's will or other written instructions for special wishes about their funeral or what should happen to their body. (However, the executor doesn't have to follow the instructions about the funeral left in the will.)

If there are no clear wishes it's generally up to the executor/administrator or nearest relative to decide whether the body is to be cremated or buried.

Funeral options

The only legal requirement in the UK regarding funerals is that the death is certified and registered and the body properly taken care of, either by burial or cremation.

Using a funeral director

Many people choose to use a professional funeral director. Funeral directors can help during what is generally a stressful time, and should see that the remains of the deceased are dealt with in a dignified way.

Choosing a funeral director

Friends, family, clergy or your doctor may be able to recommend local funeral directors. Most local companies are also listed in the telephone directory.

Most funeral directors are members of one of two trade associations:

  • National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD)

  • Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF)

Member firms must provide you with a price list on request and cannot exceed any written estimate they give you without your permission.

National Association of Funeral Directors

618 Warwick Road


West Midlands

B91 1AA

Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors

SAIF Business Centre

3 Bullfields



CM21 9DB

Arranging a funeral without a funeral director

You can arrange a funeral without the help of a funeral director. If you wish to do this, contact the Cemeteries and Crematorium Department of your local authority for advice and guidance.

You can also get help and information from The Natural Death Centre.

Detailed planning of the funeral

If you're using a funeral director they will help you with decisions such as:

  • where the body should rest before the funeral

  • time and place of the funeral (though this can only be finalised once the death is registered)

  • type of service (religious or other) and who will conduct it/contribute to it

  • how much to spend on the funeral

  • whether to have flowers or instead donate money to a chosen charity

  • where to donate flowers after the funeral

  • invitations

  • notice in the newspapers

If you're unhappy with the funeral director's service

If you're unhappy with the service, or the prices you're asked to pay contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) or Consumer Affairs Branch for advice. If the funeral director is a member of NAFD or SAIF, you can also use their conciliation services.

Arranging a funeral outside of Northern Ireland

If the Coroner is informed that a body is to be taken out of Northern Ireland for burial or cremation (whether or not there has been an inquest) and the Coroner is satisfied that the cause of death is known, then a Coroner’s certificate will be issued, usually to an undertaker. This allows the body to be removed.

Deaths outside Northern Ireland

If a death occurs outside Northern Ireland, it will be necessary to obtain authorisation for the body to be removed and brought back to Northern Ireland from the country where the death occurred. The British or Irish Embassy or Consulate will be able to provide advice on this.

A Northern Ireland Coroner has no authority to investigate a death which occurs abroad.

If a death has happened on a ship, the Coroner in the place the body comes ashore must send certain details of the death to the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen.

More useful links...

Last updated 02/12/2014

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