Cremation has become a popular choice in the UK, with over three-quarters of all funerals involving cremation. This method offers flexibility and can be more cost-effective compared to traditional burials. The process includes the incineration of the body at high temperatures, resulting in ashes that can be kept, scattered, or buried according to personal or familial wishes.

The Cremation Process

UK cremation involves specific steps beginning with the certification of death by two independent doctors. The body is then placed in a coffin suitable for burning and taken to the crematorium. During cremation, the coffin is exposed to temperatures between 870 to 980 degrees Celsius, ensuring complete decomposition. Post-cremation, the remains are processed into fine ash and handed over to the family.

Legalities surrounding cremation in the UK are strict. The process requires a 'Cremation Application' filled out by the next of kin, along with two 'Cremation Certificates' from practicing doctors. These documents ensure that all deaths are thoroughly reviewed before cremation, preventing unlawful practices and providing peace of mind for the families involved.

Cost of Cremation

The cost of cremation varies widely across the UK and can be influenced by various factors including the crematorium used, the type of service held, and additional services like the provision of an urn or flowers. On average, cremation costs are generally lower than burial, making it a financially viable option for many families.

Environmental Considerations

Cremation is often viewed as more environmentally friendly than burial because it requires less land use. However, it does have a carbon footprint due to the release of greenhouse gases and mercury emissions from dental amalgam. Modern crematoria in the UK are equipped with filters to reduce these emissions significantly.

Religious and Cultural Views on Cremation

The acceptance of cremation varies among different religious groups in the UK. While some religions, such as Hinduism, mandate cremation, others like Islam and Orthodox Judaism prohibit it. The Anglican Church accepts cremation, reflecting its general acceptance in wider British society. Understanding these cultural nuances is essential for those considering cremation.

Options for Ashes After Cremation

Post-cremation, there are several options for ashes, including scattering in a garden of remembrance, burial in a cemetery plot, or placement in a columbarium at the crematorium. Some families also choose to keep the ashes at home in a decorative urn or transform them into memorial objects like jewelry.

Choosing a Crematorium

When selecting a crematorium, considerations should include location, facilities, pricing, and the types of services offered. Many crematoriums in the UK provide options for a complete funeral service with facilities for a gathering or wake. Visiting the crematorium before making a decision can also provide comfort and assurance to families.

Cremation in the UK offers a practical alternative to burial, accommodating various personal, cultural, and financial needs. With comprehensive understanding of the process, legal aspects, and available options, individuals can make informed decisions that respect the wishes of their loved ones while adhering to personal and familial values.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is cremation?

Cremation is the process of reducing a body to its basic elements through high temperature and flame in a specially designed furnace. This results in ashes that are then returned to the family or scattered according to their wishes.

Yes, cremation is a popular choice in the UK, with over 70% of people opting for cremation over traditional burial methods. This trend has been increasing due to factors such as cost, space, and environmental considerations.

How much does cremation cost in the UK?

The cost of cremation in the UK varies, but it generally ranges from £600 to £1,000 for the cremation itself. Additional costs may include fees for the funeral director, a service, and an urn.

To arrange a cremation in the UK, several legal documents are required, including a medical certificate, a completed application for cremation form, and usually a death certificate. A Cremation Form 4, signed by a doctor, and a Cremation Form 5, if a post-mortem has not been carried out, are also needed.

Can we have a funeral service before the cremation?

Yes, many families choose to have a traditional funeral service before the cremation takes place. This service can be held at a church, a funeral home, or even at the crematorium where a service room is available.

How long after death is the cremation conducted?

In the UK, cremation typically occurs within a week after death, depending on the availability of the crematorium and completion of necessary legal documentation. However, times can vary, especially during periods of high demand.

Are there any restrictions on urns for storing ashes in the UK?

In the UK, there are no legal restrictions on the type of urn used to store cremated remains. Families can choose from a variety of materials including metal, wood, ceramic, or even biodegradable options depending on their plans for the ashes.

What happens during the cremation process?

The body is placed in a combustible coffin and then into the cremation chamber. The intense heat quickly reduces the body to bone fragments. These are then processed into a finer ash and placed in an urn or container chosen by the family.

Can items be cremated with the deceased?

Items such as jewelry or other personal effects can be cremated with the deceased; however, it is important to consult with the crematorium as some materials, such as metal, may need to be removed beforehand.

Is it possible to watch the cremation process?

Yes, some crematoriums in the UK allow family members to witness the cremation if this is their wish. Arrangements must be made in advance, and there might be some limitations depending on the facility's policies.

How can ashes be memorialized?

Ashes can be kept in an urn at home, buried in a cemetery plot, placed in a columbarium, or scattered in a place that was significant to the deceased. Some choose to have ashes made into commemorative objects such as jewelry or art.

What are the environmental impacts of cremation?

Cremation does have an environmental impact, primarily through energy consumption and the release of carbon dioxide and other gases. However, it is considered less impactful than burial, which uses land space and embalming chemicals.

Are there any religious or cultural objections to cremation?

Attitudes toward cremation vary among different religious and cultural groups. Some religions, such as Roman Catholicism and Islam, have specific teachings about cremation, which followers may wish to discuss with their community leaders.

Can cremation be pre-planned?

Yes, many people in the UK choose to plan their cremation in advance to make the process easier for their loved ones and to ensure their final wishes are respected. This can involve choosing a crematorium, planning the type of ceremony, and handling the financial arrangements.

What should be done if a death occurs abroad?

If a death occurs abroad and the deceased is to be cremated in the UK, specific repatriation procedures must be followed, including embalming, securing a zinc-lined coffin, and obtaining the necessary documentation from both the foreign country and the UK authorities.

How are cremated remains


Cremated remains can be transported in a small, sealed container. If being sent by mail, they must be packed securely and sent through a tracked shipping service. If traveling by air, it's important to check with the airline for their specific policies.

Can multiple cremations occur at once?

UK law requires that each cremation is carried out individually. The crematorium must ensure that each body is cremated separately and that ashes are handled with care to avoid any mix-up.

Is assistance available for cremation costs?

Financial assistance for cremation costs may be available through government schemes such as the Funeral Expenses Payment for those who qualify. Some local councils also offer assistance or have provisions for those in financial need.

How is a crematorium chosen?

Choosing a crematorium often involves considering factors such as location, facilities, services provided, and personal preferences. Visiting different crematoriums or seeking recommendations can also help in making an informed decision.

How does cremation affect the grieving process?

The impact of cremation on the grieving process varies from person to person. Some find that having the ashes provides a tangible memorial that aids in the grieving process, while others may struggle with the lack of a physical gravesite to visit.