Direct cremation in the UK

Direct Cremation is a simple cremation only alternative to a traditional funeral service. This low cost cremation without a funeral service saves money on funeral costs and lets families say goodbye their way, in a more relaxed environment other than the crematorium. No fuss funerals at half the price

In this guide: What direct cremation is, why families choose it & how a cremation only funeral can save £2,000

Why choose direct cremation?

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A direct funeral offers families a modern alternative to a traditional funeral; a perfect option for several reasons:

  • Avoids the fuss of a funeral service
  • Offers a low cost cheaper alternative to a cremation funeral
  • Lets you spend money on what’s important to you; not just funeral costs
  • Gives family freedom to arrange a personal farewell
  • Allows flexibility to arrange a gathering at a time to suit everyone
  • Let’s you say goodbye in a relaxed environment other than the crematorium

A simple cremation only funeral can also be a good idea if:

  • Family are unable to attend a funeral service
  • There are few or no people to attend the crematorium
  • Family disputes could make a funeral service difficult to attend

Compare prepaid direct cremation funeral plans

Comparing direct cremation plans is important to ensure your money is safe and your services are fully guaranteed with no hidden extras. The following comparison table compares the prices of market leading UK providers and the services they include, so you can choose the best direct cremation plan for you.

Price FPA registered Collection fully covered Ashes delivered Cremation fees Doctors fees
More detail iconSimplicity £1,495 Yes Yes Yes Guaranteed Not included
More detail iconGolden Charter £1,950 Yes No No Allowance Allowance
More detail iconGolden Leaves £1,644 Yes No No Guaranteed Guaranteed
More detail iconPure Cremation £1,595 Yes Yes Yes Guaranteed Guaranteed
More detail iconAvalon £1,895 Yes Yes Yes Guaranteed Guaranteed
More detail iconRespect Express £1,550 No No No Guaranteed Not included
More detail iconMemoria £1,675 Yes No Yes Guaranteed Guaranteed
More detail iconSimplicita £1,645 Yes No No Allowance Not included
More detail iconSafehands £1,895 Yes Yes No Guaranteed Guaranteed
More detail iconOpen £1,845 Yes No No Allowance Allowance
More detail iconInformation A dignified low cost cremation without a service Request a Guide

Although a simple cremation, when it comes to comparing direct cremation plans, you want to ensure that the company you choose offers the best price but also a dignified and professional service, which is where we can help.

Direct cremation costs

Direct Cremation costs are far cheaper than a traditional funeral service as you are not paying for a funeral director, limousines or expensive coffins; only the cremation cost and fees for collection, administration that is legally required for a cremation to take place in the UK and delivery of ashes

Many direct cremation funeral plans that let you arrange and pay for your cremation only funeral in advance at today’s prices are at least £2,000 cheaper, making it a more affordable option for those looking for a simple cremation only funeral.

Simple cremation funerals vs traditional funerals

What you get Direct Cremation Traditional Funeral
Professional support Yes Yes
Collection of the deceased Yes Yes
Family viewing No Yes
Coffin A simple coffin Choice of coffin
Choice of Crematorium No Yes
Choice of Cremation Date No Yes
Transport to crematorium A suitable vehicle A hearse
Funeral Service No Yes
Wake or reception When & where you choose On day of cremation
Return of ashes Yes Yes
Typical costs Cost between £1,400 to £2,000 Cost between £3,000 to £5,000
Request more information Request a direct plan guide Request a traditional plan

Although increasing in popularity, a direct funeral which separates the cremation process from the ceremony isn’t for everyone; so it’s important to talk to your family before making any decisions.

Some families will be relieved at the thought of a cremation without a funeral; others will prefer the familiarity of tradition and want a funeral service at the crematorium to pay last respects and say goodbye.

So to help you decide, this is how direct cremations and traditional cremations compare.

In addition to the different features, the direct funeral plan is considerably cheaper, saving you over £1,500.

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What is direct cremation?

Direct Cremation is a dignified cremation without a funeral service, giving families the freedom to say goodbye their way. A simple and affordable alternative to a traditional funeral, this fuss free cheaper option is suitable for those looking to save money and avoid the upset of funeral service.

An affordable low cost funeral option when it comes to planning. Here’s how it works:

  • The person who has died is collected by the direct cremation service provider and looked after until the time of the cremation. No embalming is required as there is no family viewing.
  • The death will need to be registered by the family but the service provider should handle the rest of the paperwork legally required to allow the cremation process to take place. This can take a few days.
  • The deceased is placed in a coffin suitable for cremation and transported to the crematorium. The crematorium and the date and time of the cremation are chosen by the company, not the family.
  • The family can decide to have the ashes scattered at the crematoriums garden of remembrance or returned directly to them.
lady on leaves

Which is the best direct cremation funeral plan?

The best direct cremation funeral plan will include a dignified simple cremation with no hidden extras provided by a company you can trust. Having compared the market for direct cremation funeral plans, the company we believe stands out and recommend is Simplicity, part of leading UK funeral planning company Dignity.

Unlike most companies that only operate from one location, Simplicity Cremations provide their cremation services throughout the UK, using their nationwide network of privately owned Dignity Crematoriums.

As well as being one of the best priced plans on the market, their prepaid direct cremation plans completely guarantee all the services included, so you can be sure your family will have no nasty surprises and nothing more to pay when the time comes.

For example, many direct cremation UK providers charge extra for collection out of hours or from home or a nursing home however this is not the case with Simplicity.

In addition to their guarantee, the three prepaid plans they offer give customers and their families the flexibility to choose between a simple direct cremation; a cremation with up to 12 people in attendance or a cremation with a full-length service.

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Are no fuss funerals respectful?

Ultimately whether you opt for what some would consider as the more affordable option of a direct funeral or a traditional funeral service, it is certainly worth talking to your friends and family before making this decision.

Read more

Direct funerals are a relatively new idea so it might take a couple of conversations to help others understand what else they can do to say goodbye.

On understanding that there are other options available, many people really embrace the idea of a family gathering, celebration of life or memorial service somewhere more relaxed and informal than the local crematorium. The flexibility to arrange something at a time to suit the family, perhaps on a weekend in more familiar surroundings, or choosing a special happy place for scattering ashes, giving people the chance to focus on the life rather than the upset of the death.

And don’t forget, choosing a simple cremation without a funeral service means you are in good company.  You may recall that David Bowie famously had a direct funeral and was cremated without a service in January 2016, but did you know that John Lennon also adopted a similar approach way back in December 1980.

Whichever option you choose, read the small print. A cheap cremation funeral plan may end up costing more in the long term.

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What if it's not for me?

If you are looking for a simple cremation but don’t like the ‘no funeral just cremation’ idea, then other options are available that still provide the more familiar traditional approach alongside your cremation services.

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For example many UK funeral plan providers have recently introduced more basic funeral plan options that offer the traditional funeral service but with some restrictions.

For example some simple cheap funeral plans restrict the time of the cremation services to a time when the crematoriums are usually quiet. Others reduce the allowance that is included for third party cremation expenses and minister’s fees. Do be careful to read the small print though as this could be a false economy if it means your family has more to pay when the time comes; especially when you consider the eye watering cremation costs in certain areas of the country.

They may well find that your so called ‘cheap cremation services’ are not be quite so cheap in the long run.

For more information on how to arrange and pay for your funeral in advance with a prepaid funeral plan and compare funeral plans on offer, see our specialist "compare funeral plans" section of this site

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Do you have to have a funeral?

Legally you don’t have to have a funeral in the UK or use a funeral director however the body does need to be disposed of safely; usually through burial or cremation. One option is direct cremation, a cremation without a funeral service or you may prefer a natural woodland burial.

Its worth mentioning that you can take care of everything yourself however this will include care of the deceased whilst the relevant arrangements are being made, therefore some help from specialists such as direct cremation providers or a funeral director may be advantageous.

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Check out our provider reviews

Take a look at our reviews - leading providers under the spotlight:

Simplicity Review
Golden Leaves Review
Memoria Review
Golden Charter Review
Open Review
Respect Express Review
Simplicita Review
Safe Hands Review
Pure Cremation

What should I do now?

If you would like to find out more about how direct cremation plans compare, take a look at our comparison table for details of leading UK providers.

You can also take a look at our expert independent reviews on individual companies listed above.

Alternatively you can request a brochure.

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Frequently asked questions

  • Can I choose the crematorium?
    • What makes Simplicity different to a lot of other direct cremation providers who only operate from one location is that they have crematoriums throughout the country. Therefore the crematorium used will be the one that is closest to your place of rest.

  • Who is Simplicity?
    • Simplicity is part of one of the UKs leading funeral planning company Dignity. In addition to providing prepaid funeral plans, Dignity own their own funeral directors and are the largest owner of private crematoriums located throughout the country.

      They are registered and therefore regulated by the Funeral Planning Authority and one of the few providers to fully guarantee all of the services included in the plan.

  • Is my money safe?
    • When you buy a direct cremation plan your money is usually either placed in a life insurance plan or a trust fund. With Simplicity, your money is placed in a trust fund which is a completely separate entity to the company. Therefore if anything were to happen to Simplicity, the trust fund with your money in it remains intact and ready to pay for your direct funeral services.

      It’s also important to add that Dignity, the company behind Simplicity is registered with and therefore regulated by the Funeral Planning Authority. This means they have proven that they comply with all of the FPA’s strict rules and code of practise that are in place to ensure your money is held securely and the service you and your family receive is in line with their standards.

  • Can my family attend the cremation?
    • One of the reasons we recommend Simplicity is that there are three plans to choose from giving families the flexibility to choose the option that best suits their requirements.

      The Lily Plan is a straight forward direct cremation with no one in attendance. The Magnolia plan allows up to 12 people to attend the chapel prior to the cremation and the Orchid Plan includes a full length service organised by the family.

  • What happens if my family change their mind and don’t want a direct funeral?
    • If your direct funeral plan isn’t used, perhaps because the family change their mind, it can be cancelled and the money you have paid would be returned minus the administration fee.

  • Can family viewing at a chapel of rest be arranged with a direct cremation plan?
    • No, viewing is not usually available with a direct funeral however families could always agree a collection time that allows for visiting first.

  • I have just lost someone and need to arrange a cheap funeral?
    • Direct cremation is a simple cremation with no funeral service and no one in attendance. Just the cremation process and then if requested, the ashes are returned to the family; so a much cheaper alternative to a more traditional funeral service.

      If you would like to discuss arranging a direct cremation service, please call 0800 133 7656.

  • What is the cheapest funeral I can have?
    • The cheapest funeral depends on the services you require, so opting for a cheaper simple coffin and no funeral service will reduce the price. Therefore a direct cremation could certainly be a low cost funeral option and possibly more affordable if you and your family are on a tight budget or just looking for a simple cremation.

      You can actually be buried in your own back garden if you wish; it is legal but there are stipulations and your family may have difficulty in selling the property in the future.

      Another option is donating your body to science; although there are no guarantees that your body will be accepted when the time comes, so you should also have an alternative plan in place to ensure the basic funeral costs are covered.

      If you are thinking about services for yourself and want to cut funeral costs – it would be worth shopping around and looking at the different options in advance, as family’s are loathed to do this at the time of need and therefore may end up arranging a more costly funeral service than you would have perhaps wanted

  • How much does it cost to be cremated?
    • Cremation costs which include cremation services with family in attendance at a crematorium vary depending on where you live in the country. Ranging from £600 to over £1,000, they currently average almost £800 across the UK, so it is a bit of a postcode lottery.

      For direct cremation, some UK providers will charge you a fixed price as they use one crematorium. This means they have greater control over costs and are better equipped to offer low cost funerals.

      Others will use local cremation services at a crematorium that's nearby, so fees may vary depending on where you live. Direct Cremation service providers will also use crematoriums at quieter times, which also cuts down on funeral costs.

  • Where is the nearest direct cremation service to me?
    • Low cost cremations are offered nationally by some companies or you can approach a local funeral director to see if they offer this type of service. You can check this funeral directory for your nearest funeral director.

      As always if you are paying in advance for funeral services, be it a traditional funeral or simple direct funeral, always check how your money is held; what happens if the company goes out of business and also what happens if you move.

  • Is it cheaper to be buried or cremated?
    • Cremation tends to be the cheaper option but with burial it does depend on whether you already have a burial plot. Purchasing a burial plot can be costly and in some areas a more challenging option with prices for a burial plot ranging from £500 to £2,000 – higher as you may expect in London. Again the cost of a burial or cremation boils down to where you live. 

  • Can I buy a prepaid direct cremation plan?
    • Yes, some providers are now also offering prepaid direct funeral plans as an option for those looking at cheap funerals. So you can plan ahead and let your family know that this is your preferred option and that you have already taken care of everything so they don't have to.

      We would recommend that you do talk to your family first though if this is your intention to ensure they are happy and understand why you prefer to choose a simple direct funeral.

  • I'm looking for a simple funeral with no fuss
    • A direct cremation is an alternative to a simple funeral. In basic terms it is just the cremation process but without the actual funeral service.

      A funeral is the ceremony connected to the disposal of the body, often including appropriate cultures and traditions. Often people who refer to wanting a ‘simple funeral’ actual mean a traditional service but without any extras, such as flowers or perhaps only one service at the crematorium rather than a service at the church as well.

      For others the idea of a low cost direct funeral without a service is their ideal choice when it comes to simple cremation options; either way hopefully this guide has helped you understand the difference. Alternatively if you would like to talk through the options and discuss your own individual needs, please call us on our free phone number 0800 133 7656.

  • Can you have a direct cremation in Scotland?
    • Yes you can have a direct funeral in Scotland but as the law is slightly different, only certain providers offer this service.

      Please contact us by email or call us on 0800 133 7656 and we can arrange to send you a more appropriate brochure.

  • Can I have a direct burial?
    • If you prefer direct burial to direct cremation services, you would either need to speak with your local funeral director or you could speak to Respect as they offer a direct burial service at one of their woodland burial parks

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