What is a Direct Cremation?

  • A dignified cremation with no friends or family members in attendance
  • A fuss free simple cremation without a service
  • Cheap alternative to a traditional funeral service
  • Collection, time and location of cremation arranged by the company

Direct cremation may not be for everyone; as a way of showing last respects and saying goodbye, the funeral service is generally more about friends and family. Therefore the idea of a simple cheap cremation without mourners in attendance and no traditional cremation services may be upsetting for many.

However the demand for the low cost direct cremation services is growing; appealing to an increasing number of people who are looking for a cheap cremation alternative to the traditional funeral service.

This guide will help you decide if a basic direct cremation is right for you

What's the difference between a traditional funeral service and direct cremation?

A good place to start is to be clear on the differences between these 2 options:

Direct Cremation Traditional Funeral Service
The family will be advised of the process & asked whether they want they ashes Advice & support to the family from the funeral director who will take care of the arrangements
Collection of the deceased Collection of the deceased
A simple coffin Choice of coffin
Family viewing of the deceased at a chapel of rest
No choice of crematorium  Choice of crematorium
Transport to the crematorium A hearse to the crematorium
Cars for the family, if required
Cremation at a time your family will have no control over  Cremation at a time to suit your family 
No cremation service and no one in attendance Cremation service for friends and family to attend
Flowers or donations
Return of the ashes (if required) Return of the ashes (if required)
A wake or celebration
Cost between £1,100 to £2,000 Cost between £3,000 to £5000

So in simple terms, a direct cremation is collection and cremation with no one in attendance at a time to suit the company organising it (be that a funeral director or direct cremation services provider); as opposed to a traditional funeral service that is arranged at a time to suit the family, providing the opportunity to pay last respects and say goodbye.

Then of course there is the significant difference in costs between what can be considered relatively cheap direct cremation only from £1,100 to £2,000, compared with the more costly traditional funeral service which currently averages around £4,000.

Why do people choose direct cremation?

Be it simplicity or wanting to cut down on the basic funeral cost, people across the UK are starting to choose direct cremation for a number of reasons:

  • Not wanting the fuss of a traditional funeral service, be it religious or non religious
  • Don’t like the idea or don’t believe in traditional funeral services
  • Wanting to cut costs and arrange cheap funerals
  • Would rather family hold ‘a celebration of life’ or ‘memorial service’
  • Few or no people to attend the funeral service
  • Family are unable to attend a funeral service
  • Family disputes could make a funeral service difficult to attend
  • Would prefer to spend money on a party or leave it to family rather than the cost of a funeral

Is a direct cremation right for you?

Ultimately whether you opt for a more affordable direct cremation that undoubtedly cuts the basic funeral cost or a more common place funeral service, it is certainly worth talking to your friends and family before making this decision.

Families especially can often get quite upset at the thought of not having a funeral service, so to save more distress at what is undoubtedly a difficult time, it is better to ensure they are happy with your wishes.

It may be helpful to remind them that although direct cremation means there won’t be a traditional funeral service with the coffin taking centre stage, they can still hold a memorial service or ‘celebration of life’ as it is more frequently being called at a time to suit them.

In addition, the ashes can still be returned to them as they would in a traditional cremation service so they can choose to keep or scatter the ashes in a manner that meets yours or their wishes.  

Where can I buy a direct cremation?

Direct cremations are growing in popularity and although they can in no way be considered as mainstream at this stage, demand for this type of cheap cremation only service is on the increase. In fact a recent report into the cost of dying stated that of the funeral directors surveyed, 1 in 10 of the funerals arranged that year were for direct cremation.

As a result in the growing demand for cheap funerals, more funeral directors and also funeral plan companies are providing cremation services and plans that give families the chance to arrange direct cremations either at need or in advance with a prepaid direct cremation funeral plan.

There are also now a few ‘direct cremation only’ companies whose sole business is arranging direct cremation services for families across the UK.

What if a direct cremation is not for me?

If you are looking for a simple cremation but don’t like the idea of the more stripped back direct cremation option, many 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 service to a time when the crematoriums are usually quiet. Others reduce the allowance that is included for third party cremation prices 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 considering the eye watering cremation prices in certain areas of the country.    

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.

It’s worth mentioning that whatever option you choose, always read the small print. The cheapest funeral plan may seem like the best option but keep in mind that old adage – if something is too good to be true, it probably is! 

Frequently asked questions

I have just lost someone and need to arrange a cheap funeral?

A direct cremation is a cheap alternative to a traditional funeral. Arrangements are made for the collection and simple cremation but there are no family or friends in attendance and no funeral service.

Once the cremation has taken place, ashes can be given back to the family if requested.

What is the cheapest funeral I can have?

The cheapest  funeral costs depend on the services you require, so opting for a cheap coffin and no funeral service will reduce the price. Therefore a direct cremation could certainly be a lower cost and possibly a more affordable option 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 funeral services for yourself and want to cut 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 prices which include a cremation service 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.

Some direct cremation providers will charge you a fixed price as they use one crematorium. Others will use the crematorium that's local to you, so costs may vary depending on where you live. Direct Cremation service providers will also use crematoriums at quieter times, which also cuts down on costs.

Direct cremation prices start from £1,095.

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 direct cremation, 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 attend the direct cremation?

Because the body is cremated at a time to suit the crematorium and direct cremation provider, you or your family will be unable to attend the cremation. Don't forget there will be no service or attendees with a direct cremation.

The reality is that the cremation will take place when the crematorium is quiet and typically out of normal hours to keep the costs down.

Can I pre-purchase a simple direct cremation plan?

Yes, some providers are now also offering pre-purchase direct cremation 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 direct cremation.

I'm looking for a simple funeral with no fuss

A direct cremation is an alternative to a simple funeral.

A funeral is the ceremony connected to the disposing of the body including cultures and traditions, so without this the only way to dispose of the body is with a cremation or burial without a service.

Often people refer to wanting to have a simple funeral meaning a traditional service without any extras, such as flowers and perhaps only one service at the crematorium rathar than a service at the church aswell.

Although the expression "simple funeral" for some people could mean a low cost direct cremation, either way hopefully this guide has helped you understand the difference - we will be happy to discuss your individual needs on 0800 133 7656 or you can request a brochure here.

Save your family the worry of arranging and paying for your funeral

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You can choose from a simple direct cremation prepaid plan or a more comprehensive funeral plan.

Costs start from around £1,500

Our guide will help you understand the diffrences and your options.

A funeral plan gives you the chance to arrange your funeral so your family won’t need to do anything.

Just one phone call when the time comes and the funeral director will take care of everything

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