There are 3 things you must do in the first few days after someone dies.
- Get a medical certificate from a GP or hospital doctor. You’ll need this to register the death.
- Register the death within 5 days (8 days in Scotland). You’ll then get the documents you need for the funeral.
- Arrange the funeral - you can use a funeral director or arrange it yourself.
Choosing a funeral director
To arrange a funeral you're advised to choose a funeral director who is a member of one of the following organisations who will have a code of practice.
Types of funerals
Some people feel that personally organising a funeral is their final tribute to the deceased person, or it may simply be a way of saving money. An independent funeral can mean taking responsibility for collecting and moving the body, arranging embalming and viewing of the deceased, providing a coffin, hearse and arranging the service or it can just mean arranging the burial and service.
There is now a move towards a more 'green' type of burial which promotes biodegradable coffins and gives the option of a woodland burial. The Natural Death Centre is a charitable project and provides information to help people arrange inexpensive, family-organised, and environmentally-friendly funerals.
More information can be found at
The Natural Death Centre
There is no requirement to have a religious ceremony or any kind of ceremony at all at a funeral.
Alternatively, a family member or friend may say a few words at the service if preferred. If you don’t want a ceremony at all, members of the family or close friends can attend the committal which can be in silence, or with some music being played.
You can choose to have a Humanist ceremony where the proceedings involve a celebration of the dead person's life through readings, tributes and appropriate music. At this type of funeral the services of an celebrant are commonly used.
More information on using a celebrant and Humanist ceremonies can be found at
The British Humanist Association
Help with funeral costs
If you’re on a low income you could be eligible for a Funeral Payment, to help to pay for a funeral you're arranging from the Department for Work and Pensions. How much you get depends on your circumstances.
More information is available from your local Job Centre or
Funeral Payments on GOV.UK