Arranging a funeral yourself (without a funeral director)

Although most funerals in the UK are arranged through funeral directors, it’s possible to arrange a funeral yourself without using a funeral director. You could save more than £1,000 by arranging the funeral yourself. But it will require more effort on your part.

The total cost of the funeral will depend on third party (disbursement) fees (from the burial authority or Crematorium for example) and the optional extras you choose. You can find out more about this in this article ‘How much does a funeral cost?’

This guide will help you arrange a simple cremation, without using a funeral director.

  1. Care of the person who has died
    If the person died in a hospital or hospice, they’ll keep and care for the body for a reasonable amount of time. They’ll also normally arrange for a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD). But if the person died at home, you must call for a doctor or ambulance to get the MCCD. If the death does not need to be referred to the Procurator Fiscal, you can care for the person at home. You can lay them out in a cool space, ideally for under a week, while you buy a coffin and book the ceremony.
  2. Register the death
    You must register the death at a registration office within eight days in Scotland. You can’t make further arrangements until you do this. You’ll need to take the MCCD, which is signed by a doctor, when you register the death. Visit the for more information on how to register a death. Once you’ve registered the death, you’ll get a Certificate of Registration of Death (Form 14). You’ll need the both parts of the Cremation Form A to book the crematorium or an Interment Application Form for the cemetery. They are available on South Ayrshire Council’s web site.
  3. Pick a coffin
    Legally, you don’t have to use a coffin for a funeral - a shroud is a suitable and affordable alternative. However, a simple coffin is best and we have experience of homemade coffins which were suitable for both cremation and burial. The crematorium or cemetery can advise you on what personal items you can place with the body. You can find a range of affordable coffins online.
  4. Book the Crematorium or Cemetery
    To book the crematorium or cemetery, you’ll need to contact the crematorium or cemetery office and lodge Interment Application Form or both Cremation Form A’s and the Form 14 at least 48 hours before the date and time chosen for the service. You’ll need to fill in the details of the person who has died, and your preferences for timings and music during the ceremony.
  5. Choose who will lead a ceremony if you want one
    Having a ceremony is a very personal decision. But if you or the person who has died wanted one, you can plan and lead it yourself. The Good Funeral Guide website has some advice on leading the ceremony. Alternatively, you could ask an ‘independent funeral celebrant’ or a member of the clergy to do this. To find someone to lead the service, ask the crematorium or cemetery for a list of local contacts, or visit the Funeral Celebrants website. If you don’t want a ceremony, you could opt for a direct cremation. This is where a body is cremated at a convenient time without any ceremony or mourners attending.
  6. Transport the body
    You’ll need to arrange transport to the crematorium or cemetery. You don’t have to use a hearse to do this. You can transport the coffin in an estate car or van.

For further information, please see MyGovt.Scot or alternatively, contact the Crematorium Office: Tel: 01292 266051 or the Cemetery Office on : 01292 282387