Cremation and Burial Costs: A 2021 Comparison

The costs of funerals have been rising since the 1980’s. The average cost of a cremation in the UK without a funeral service is around £1,500 and £3,000 with a funeral service. The average cost of a burial in the UK is around £5,000. These figures can differ significantly depending on many factors, particularly with burials as location, services, and additional material choices play a critical role. The percentage of people choosing cremation funerals is constantly increasing due to the cost of burial services, with burial services being roughly 40% more expensive than cremation. 

Cremation Costs

Cremation results in the creation of ashes which can be distributed in a variety of ways, whether it be a decorative urn for your home or a scattering tube for future dispersal. The fee involved with this includes the cost of the cremation process which is set by the crematorium itself, which is roughly £790. There are other hidden costs you might not expect as well, such as the doctor’s fee for the forms required to certify the death and approve the cremation, which costs £164. There may also be additional charges for the removal of pacemakers. There are stricter guidelines in place for authorising a body for cremation, therefore, the doctor’s fees involved in such matters are not required for a burial funeral. 

Eco Friendly Scattering Tube For Ashes

Choosing an urn can be an emotive and precious decision when opting for cremation. Size, material, location, and most importantly, who the urn is for, are critical factors to consider. The adult cremation urns for ashes in our collections can range from anywhere between £59 for a simplistic, yet sleek, biodegradable urn, to £3,805 for a modern designer urn made from bronze. These prices are carefully calculated to reflect the unique designs produced by our skilled artisans to create the perfect final resting place for your loved one, which you can display as a remembrance of their life. See below our Eternity Cremation Urn for ashes which is an example of the an urn priced at the average you would expect to pay for one in the UK.

image of eternity cremation urn

Most crematoriums offer a direct cremation which takes place without a ceremony. These services are a simpler and cheaper option. The fee of a direct cremation lies around £1,000 which includes the use of a pine eco-coffin and a cremation that takes place at a time which is suitable for the crematorium. The ashes are usually returned to the family in a simple container, allowing the family to purchase a special urn in which their loved one’s cremains can be transferred. 

Burial of ashes in a cemetery can produce an additional fee of up to £1700 whereas other locations may be free. Our cremation urns suitable for land burial range from £45 for a small biodegradable urn to £479 for a beautifully handcrafted Boat Cremation Urn which will naturally decompose and allow new life to grow. Alternatively, our water burial urns range from £45 to £229 allowing your loved one to embark on a journey through peaceful waters. See below our Memento Biodegradable Water Urn for ashes.

Memento Biodegradable Water Urn

Other optional services that can be included with a cremation include:

  • Catering - £450
  • Venue hire - £280
  • Flowers - £195
  • Memorial - £1,105
  • Car hire - £335
  • Service cards - £100
  • Coffin - £650

These are all average costs and will vary accordingly.

Burial costs 

A burial funeral usually involves a service in which mourners are invited to say their goodbyes as a coffin or casket is lowered into the ground. Like urns, coffins can be made from a variety of materials which occur along a spectrum of prices, with caskets being generally more expensive. For example, a traditional solid oak coffin can be around £650, whereas a premium solid wood coffin can be nearer to £1000. A more affordable option is a biodegradable cardboard coffin which is around £200, however, due to the properties of the material there are weight limitations involved with the use of a cardboard coffin. 

Alternatively, an individual may be buried in a shroud which can be made out of bamboo, linen, cotton, or a flat-pack coffin, which are much cheaper options. Pandanus coffins are generally another cheaper option at around £395 and are also an eco-friendly option. High quality materials used to make metal caskets are luxurious and strong, costing up to £10,000 depending on the choice of materials and designs. 

Pandanus Coffin

It is more common than not to have a funeral director to provide support for the family by managing the funeral arrangements, notably dealing with paperwork and practical procedures including the responsibility of the safety of the deceased upon collection and whilst in their care until the day of the burial. These charges may also apply for a crematory funeral however, cremation is a simpler process to organise and it is possible to arrange without the assistance of a funeral director. On average in the UK, the services of a funeral director can cost around £2,687. It also may be worth considering that a funeral director may sometimes charge you more for some facilities in comparison to if you arranged them yourself or bought items separately, for example, the coffin or urn, and any other of the optional services that can be included. It might be a cheaper option to use a small funeral director company rather than a large chain, but it might be more expensive to use an independent funeral director in rural areas where there is not much competition.

Usually, when arranging a traditional burial funeral you will expect a minister or officiant to conduct the ceremony and help the family celebrate the life of a loved one. There are three different types of celebrant you might consider using to lead the burial. A clergy for a religious service roughly costs around £169 on average with the Church of England burials starting at £199. For non-religious services, there are humanist celebrants or civil celebrants who include hymns and prayers but without the formality of a religious ceremony. These can charge anywhere between £150 to £350 for their services. However, there is no requirement for a registered individual to lead the ceremony and it is possible to have someone personal perform this.

The cost of a burial cost usually covers the exclusive right to burial and the right of burial interment digging. An exclusive right of burial fee is paid to the owner of the cemetery in order to lease the land of a burial plot so that nobody else can be buried there for the duration stated in the lease, which is typically between 50 and 100 years. The cost of a burial plot depends on the specific cemetery and the type of plot as it can be single-depth, double-depth for companions, or larger plots dedicated to a family. The cost of a single-depth burial plot is £1,800 on average.

The size of the plot may also have an impact on the type of headstone you desire, particularly in size. A companion headstone may be bigger than a single headstone and a family headstone much bigger than that. There are a plethora of headstones out there, with the most common one that comes to mind being an upright headstone made from granite, which might cost around £800 depending on the size, amount of lettering, and any artistic detail. All gravestones will vary in price depending on the size, material, colour, finish, lettering, and design. For example, a marble headstone with flower engravings may cost up to £1,200, whereas, a simple stone memorial plaque can be anywhere as cheap as £40. 


The average cost of a basic burial funeral in the UK can be expected to be around £5,000. However, depending on the region you choose to be buried in it can be much more or much less. For example, it is most expensive to be buried in London costing on average £5,235. The cheapest place in the UK to be buried is in Northern Ireland where the cost is roughly 23% less expensive than the national average. Furthermore, the largest rise in the costs of burials were recorded in the South East and East of England, increasing by up to 9.8%. These are figures based on the change of funeral costs from 2019 to 2020, with expectations for them to keep rising.

Another optional practice is embalming. People may choose to embalm a loved one for many reasons. Particularly in the USA, embalming is very popular for aesthetic reasons when choosing to have an open coffin funeral so that cosmetic work can be applied. This process allows the preservation of a lifelike appearance, enabling family and friends to say goodbye to their loved ones with less distress. The cost of embalming in the UK can be an unexpected extra £75 to £200 on top of other funeral costs as embalming is often thought of as just a cosmetic process, therefore rather minor, rather than a chemical one as well to allow the preservation of the body.

Other optional services that can be included with a burial include:

  • Catering - £450
  • Flowers - £195
  • Car hire - £335
  • Service cards - £100
  • Venue hire - £280
  • Death notice - £100

These are all average costs and will vary accordingly.


The overall cost of death can be very expensive depending on what type of funeral you desire, with direct cremation being the cheapest option available. However, losing a loved one is never easy and the bereavement support of an individual to lead some version of a ceremony with the attendance of family and friends may help a lot of individuals to get through a very difficult time. There are many possibilities for creating the perfect send off for your loved one in order to celebrate their life and honour their memory, with everybody's commemoration best for them being different than anybody else's.

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