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.

By separating the cremation from the funeral service, the part that in truth many people actually dread, direct cremation gives family’s the flexibility to arrange a more fitting send off in a relaxed environment. Perhaps a family gathering; meal in a favourite restaurant or a memorial service.

Once the cremation has taken place, the ashes can be returned to the family for them to keep, scatter in a special place or bury.

How does direct cremation work?

Direct Cremation does away with the pomp, fuss and expense of a funeral service. There’s no hearse, cars for the family, pall bearers and no mourners. You are not paying extra for the use of the chapel of rest in case family want to visit, embalming or a minister to conduct a service.

Instead you pay a fraction of the cost of a traditional funeral service for a simple respectful cremation. Here’s how direct cremation works and what you should expect from your service provider:

  • The person who has died is collected and taken into the care of the company organising the service.
  • They then arrange all the paperwork that is legally required for a cremation to take place in the UK.
  • The cremation is arranged at a time to suit the provider and the family are kept informed.
  • The person is then laid in a simple coffin and the cremation takes place.
  • The ashes are either scattered in the garden of remembrance or returned to family.

Therefore the only thing your family will need to do is register the death; the company you choose to provide the direct cremation service should take care of everything else.    

Can you attend a direct cremation?

Direct cremation essentially is a cremation with no one in attendance, however some companies have tailored the services they provide to allow for a small number of people to attend the chapel at the crematorium to say a few words or witness the committal.

Companies providing direct cremation services have recognised that although a growing number of people in the UK are choosing this simple, affordable option, some families still want the chance to pay their last respects before the cremation takes place.

So instead of a full traditional service, you can now choose a direct cremation funeral plan that allows for a small gathering, usually of up to 10 or 12 family members and close friends to gather around the coffin and say goodbye. They will usually charge more for this service; there may be a restriction on the number of people that can attend and it may only be at certain crematoriums so if you would like to give your family this option, it is worth checking with the Direct Cremation provider first.

what is a direct cremation

What is included?

If you want to arrange a direct cremation in advance, you can do so with a prepaid plan. Putting plans in place in this way means you save money by paying at today’s prices, therefore avoiding future inflation and removing the worry of having to arrange everything from your family.

What is included in the direct cremation funeral plan will vary from provider to provider however typically you should expect:

  • Collection and transportation of the person who has died
  • Care of the deceased until the cremation takes place
  • Guidance for family and completion of all relevant documentation
  • A simple coffin
  • Cremation fees
  • Scattering of ashes or return to the family

Some plans will also include doctor’s fees if a second death certificate is required whilst others may offer a telephone bereavement service.

In addition to prepaid plans, providers also offer direct cremation services for those who have already passed away and have an immediate need, commonly referred to as ‘at need’, offering similar services to the above.

If you are looking for an immediate direct cremation please call us on 0800 133 7656.

How much does direct cremation cost?

The cheapest direct cremation funeral plans start from £1,495 up to £1,900, depending on the company you choose  Compared to today’s average cost of more than £4,000 for a traditional funeral service, direct cremation is therefore a substantially cheaper option at less than half the price.

Type of funeral   Average cost Typically includes
Direct Cremation Plan £1,500 Collection of deceased, a simple coffin, no service & return of ashes
Basic Cremation Plan £2,895 Collection of deceased, a basic coffin, a service, hearse & return of ashes
Mid-range Cremation Plan £3,750 Collection of deceased, family viewing, quality coffin, a service, hearse & a car for the family, return of ashes
Top range Cremation Plan £4,000 Collection of deceased, family viewing, top range coffin, a service, hearse & 2 cars for the family, return of ashes
Average cost of a funeral £4,271 Sunlife cost of dying report 2018

Most plan providers give you the option to pay in full or by instalments for those who wish to spread the cost, however you will pay a little more for this option.

It’s worth pointing out that as the services included in prepaid plans vary, it is important that when you compare direct cremation plans you not only look at the cost of the plan but also the guarantees too.  

The cost of direct cremation for someone who has already passed away will be different. For what is known as an ‘at need ‘ service, prices start from around £1,200 however this is for a basic service and you may be charged extra for things like collection from home or out of hours.

What to watch out for when picking a provider

The two most important considerations when choosing a direct cremation provider are service and security. You want to ensure that the service you and your family receive is dignified, respectful and what you asked for and that your money is safe.

It is therefore worthwhile choosing a provider that is registered with and regulated by the Funeral Planning Authority, so you can be reassured that the company has had to prove they comply with their rules and strict code of practice.

Although prepaid plans cover many of the same services, there are subtle differences which could mean there is more to pay when the time comes. The key areas to check are as follows:

  • UK wide collection – some companies will collect the deceased from any location in the UK, regardless of where the death occurs. Others may charge extra if collection is from home or a nursing home – basically anywhere without a mortuary.
  • 24 hour service – some providers offer collection at any time of the day or night whereas others will charge more if their services are required out of core working hours.
  • Cremation fees – these essential charges will either be completely guaranteed or the plan will include an allowance to help pay for these costs. If it’s the latter, the family may be asked to pay the shortfall if the allowance included in the plan is insufficient when the time comes. Also doctor’s fees may apply however in line with Scotland, the law is set to change in England and Wales meaning these fees will be irrelevant in the near future.
  • Delivery of the Ashes – if the family choose to have the ashes returned, plans will either include this service free of charge or you can request it for an extra fee.

What is the difference between cremation and direct cremation?

The main difference between cremation and direct cremation is the lack of a funeral service. A traditional cremation typically has a service conducted by a minister or celebrant for mourners to attend, whereas with direct cremation there is no funeral service so no one in attendance.

To help you review your options and decide on the best option for you, here’s how the two compare

A Traditional Cremation Funeral

  • Deceased is collected and cared for
  • Family have the option to visit at the chapel of rest
  • Family choose the crematorium
  • Family choose the date and time of the funeral
  • A hearse takes the coffin to the crematorium
  • The funeral service conducted by a minister or celebrant takes place
  • Friends and family attend a wake or reception
  • The ashes are either scattered on the garden of remembrance or returned to family
  • Total cost between £3,000 to £5,000

A Direct Cremation Funeral

  • Deceased is collected and cared for
  • The company chooses the crematorium
  • The company chooses and informs the family of the date and time of the cremation
  • The deceased is taken to the crematorium
  • The cremation takes place with no one in attendance
  • Friends and family can organise a wake or reception when and where they want
  • The ashes are either scattered on the garden of remembrance or returned to family
  • Total cost between £1,500 to £2,000
Direct Cremation
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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.

Alternatively if you would like to request a brochure, please click here.

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