The short answer is: no. By law in the UK, there is no legal obligation to have a funeral. However, when somebody dies, the body must be disposed of either by being buried, cremated or donated to medical science.
By definition a funeral is "a ceremony or service held shortly after a person's death, usually including the person's burial or cremation." Therefore this means if you or a loved one don't want to have a funeral, you can have something called a direct cremation instead.
A direct cremation by many is still considered a type of simple funeral, but ultimately it is a cremation without a service. With a direct cremation, the deceased is collected, taken to a crematorium and the ashes are then personally delivered to the family or scattered at the crematorium. Though it's a pared-back service compared to a traditional funeral, the deceased is still treated with the same compassion and care you would expect any funeral provider to supply.
A direct cremation is the cheapest way to be cremated or buried and prices start with Distinct Cremations from just £1,099. A celebration of life or a memorial service can still take place, but this takes place separately away from the cremation at a time and date of the family's choosing.
When someone dies, there are a number of legal requirements or processes that must be adhered to in the UK, even if you don't want to have a funeral.
Here is a handy checklist which details exactly what you need to do when someone dies.
We have created a free checklist for you to download which lets you know exactly what you need to do when someone dies.
The decision to have a funeral may depend on a number of factors. This could be a cultural or religious consideration, personal preference, practical reasons or financial reasons.
Here are some reasons why you might have a funeral and reasons why you might choose not to
Common reasons to have a funeral:
Common reasons not to have a funeral:
These days, there are many alternatives to a traditional funeral. This can be something like an unattended, direct cremation which is a cremation without a funeral. A private cremation, which has a small funeral service. Or a natural burial which is an environmentally friendly alternative.
Here are a few alternatives you may like to consider if you or your loved one aren't interested in having a traditional funeral.
An unattended cremation or direct cremation, now favoured by 20% of the UK population*, has quickly become the most popular alternative. They take place without mourners or a funeral service. After the cremation the family has the option to host a memorial service.
Many like the idea of an unattended cremation because it allows the family to have a memorial service which is separate from the cremation itself.
* SunLife Cost of Dying Report 2024, sunlife.co.uk/funeral-costsMore about unattended cremation
A small or private attended cremation, sometimes referred to as a family-led funeral, is a funeral with a small attended service designed and guided by the family of the deceased, without a celebrant or religious minister. The choice of how the service looks is entirely with the family.
A small, attended cremation or family-led funeral is an intimate affair usually favoured by those looking to say farewell in a straightforward way. There is no procession and the service can be as traditional or non-traditional as the family want.More about attended cremations
Natural burials are a type of green funeral which are fast becoming a popular choice to an alternative funeral as people become more environmentally aware. A natural burial, occasionally referred to as a woodland burial or green burial, is where the deceased is buried at a green burial site in a natural coffin or shroud.
A green burial site is often in a forest, meadow or wooded area. Currently in the UK, these aren’t especially common, however they are increasing in availability as demand increases.More about green funerals
Choosing a simple, no fuss funeral instead of a traditional cremation lets you celebrate a loved one’s life however you wish, with less stress and no fuss.
You can see the key differences between a simple, no fuss funeral and a traditional funeral in more detail below.
Whether you're wanting to arrange a funeral today, interested in funeral plans, or looking for something else, our customer service specialists are here for you 24/7 to answer any questions you may have.Call on 01543 211997
Below are a few more resources that you may be interested in.
It is possible to organise a funeral yourself without a funeral director. If you choose to arrange a funeral without a funeral director, there are a number of key elements that you’ll need to take into consideration.Do you have to use a funeral director?
At Distinct Cremations, we provide no fuss funerals which are simple to arrange, affordable and delivered with care, dignity and respect. Prices start from just £1,099 if you need to arrange a funeral today.Arrange a funeral
Choosing a funeral provider is never easy, so we've created a table comparing the best funeral providers' key features and inclusions to help you compare, contrast and choose the right funeral provider for you.Compare funeral providers
Below are a selection of reviews from those who have arranged a funeral or purchased a funeral plan through Distinct Cremations.
"Smooth and straightforward purchase with plenty of contact and feedback."
“Easy to use and very helpful. Very easy to use their services and always called with updates. Sorry to say I've had to use their services twice now and I've already booked my own service. On both times I've used this service I've been kept informed by calls to everything going on. All my requests were made to feel like no trouble whatsoever, happy to help attitude made what was a very emotional time pass with no problems. Ty to all the teams involved"
"Quick and easy to arrange. Very good value. The information pack arrived days after I made my enquiry. It was so easy to arrange the plan that I wanted. The follow up call was very reassuring. I am very happy with the service provided."
"Already recommended to other family members. Easy to access and apply for a plan at a good price, and even better, in 20 years time there will be no additional cost. It's not a subject that anyone wants to think about but now I have it sorted it has given me peace of mind knowing my family won't have the worry or cost when that time comes, now I can forget it and enjoy many more years, highly recommended. Hassle free application that was completed in minutes but I'm not planning on using this plan anytime soon!!"
"I was very pleased with the prompt efficient service that I got, everything was explained to me, and the paperwork was easy to understand, and there was no pressure put on me for a decision. I would most certainly recommended this company for price and efficiency."
“Happy with everything. We were well pleased with the consultant Sarah Mills she was very helpful and made us feel very confident that we were doing the right thing about our funeral plan."
"Positive without being pushy. Easy to understand the scheme, helpful brochure and a realistic price. The staff I contacted were polite and professional. Great value. An ideal alternative for those of us who don't want a lot of fuss."