Natural grey headstone in a cemetery.

Burial

The choice between burial and cremation can be a personal one and may be influenced by many factors, including family tradition, religious or non-religious views or the wishes of the person who has died.

What is a burial?

A burial is a ceremony held after the main funeral service, where mourners attend the graveside and pay their respects as the coffin is lowered into the grave.

Different types of burial service

We can help arrange a traditional burial, whether that be religious or non-religious or we can help arrange something a little different:

  • a woodland burial, is an eco-friendly way of laying a body to rest in the ground, without a traditional coffin or headstone
  • burial at sea, we can help in applying for the correct licences and begin burial arrangements
  • direct burial, this is a burial without a funeral service

These burial services can be personalised to reflect your loved ones wishes and be a heartfelt tribute to the life they’ve lived. If you'd like to know more about what happens at a burial service we've created a guide to help.

What forms do I need for burial?

Certificate for burial, also known as the green form.

This is given to the family by the registry office when registering the death.

If the coroner holds an inquest an order of burial form will be issued rather than the green form. Speak to your local funeral director if you'd like more help and advice with this.

Why choose burial?

The decision between a burial or cremation can depend on many different things. Religious beliefs may affect the decision between a burial or cremation or if you're looking at arranging an eco-friendly funeral a burial maybe more suitable.

Burials are less impactful on the environment compared to the energy used and pollution caused by cremations. A woodland or natural burial is set within acres of natural countryside and offers a truly beautiful alternative to a traditional cemetery.

Burial costs

The average cost of a burial in 2019 was £4,975*, this included the cost of the burial plot and burial fees. It also included other services such as professional fees, minister or officiants fee, coffin and funeral cars. For burial costs in your local area use our funeral costs calculator.

The cost of a burial plot can differ vastly depending on where it's being purchased in the UK. Speak with your local funeral director about local costs and availability.

There are additional fees which need to be considered when deciding on burial. These include fees for opening and reopening graves and replacing headstones. These charges vary by area but your local funeral director will tell you exactly how much it'll be when they have all the details. There may be a charge for the exclusive right of burial, which means no further burials can take place in that grave without your permission. In many areas, you must purchase this if you want to put up a memorial.

We have more information available about burial costs and general funeral costs and can advise you on local charges.

* SunLife (2020), Cost of Dying Report, sunlife.co.uk/costofdying2020

Buying a burial plot

Buying a burial plot isn’t a difficult process, but there’re some things you need to be aware of. When someone dies, you can buy a burial plot in a cemetery or natural burial ground, but you may not own the land forever.

If there's a grave already in existence that you'd like to use, perhaps part of a family plot, then we can arrange to use that. We'll need the deeds of the grave or any documents relating to the grave. If these aren’t in your possession, we can help you locate them. We can also check that there's space for further burials.

How do you buy a burial plot?

To buy a burial plot in a church yard, cemetery or natural burial ground, you’ll need to contact the owner of the land to check availability and cost. In the UK, this will either be owned by a local authority or a church. There are also some privately owned burial grounds, including woodland burial grounds.

At Co-op Funeralcare, our funeral directors can buy a burial plot in a cemetery or woodland burial ground on your behalf.

It’s also possible to buy a burial plot before a death, if you wish to plan for your own funeral arrangements, you can contact the plot owner directly.

Exclusive Right of Burial

It’s important to know that when you buy a burial plot, you’re not buying the ownership of the land forever. Local authorities will sell the lease on a plot of land, so you’re buying the right to bury someone there for a certain amount of time.

The lease, or deed, that you are purchasing is known as the Exclusive Right of Burial. Exclusive Right of Burial is the lease of a burial plot for a set number of years. Whilst you own the lease, nobody else can be buried in the plot, but it’ll eventually expire.

How long does a burial plot last in the UK?

Like a lease on a house, most burial plots are sold for a set amount of time. These leases typically last for between 25 and 100 years.

Before the lease expires, the owner will be contacted by the land owner to see if they wish to renew. If not, the headstone may be removed for collection by the owner.

Do cemeteries buy back burial plots?

If a lease isn't renewed, the council may resell the remaining space in the plot. However, existing burials will not be removed or disturbed.

What happens when a cemetery is full?

Unfortunately, there's a shortage of space for burial plots in the UK. It’s often recommended to buy a burial plot in advance, particularly if family members wish to be buried together.

If the cemetery of choice is full, your funeral director will be able to look at alternative options for you. You might want to look into using burial plots of other family members.

How to transfer ownership of the burial plot?

It’s possible to have family members buried in the same plot as each other. When you buy the Exclusive Right to Burial, you’ve the right to choose who's buried in that plot. The registered owner of a burial plot can also assign the rights to another family member for joint ownership.

How much does a burial plot cost?

Due to the shortage of space, burial plots can be expensive. The cost of a burial plot will depend on the location and the type of burial plot you want.

Non-residents often pay higher fees for a grave than residents of the local council. Burial plots for children and cremated remains are a lot cheaper than standard plots. Single burial plots are cheaper than plots purchased for multiple caskets.

The cost of a burial plot in the UK can differ vastly, ask your local funeral director about the different options available for your price range and requirements.

How do I find a burial plot?

Contact your local council for a list of burial plots in your area, either in cemeteries or natural burial grounds.

If it’s a loved one who has died and you’re not local, our funeral directors can help you to make all the necessary arrangements.

Find your local funeral home

Enter your town or postcode to find a Co-op funeral home near you.