Arranging The Funeral

How to arrange the funeral: legal requirements, documents you will need and key decisions to make

Coronavirus (COVID-19): change to service

On advice from the government regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19), we have introduced stricter limits on guests to contain the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

See further information about changes to services.

Rights and requirements under the law

The main legal requirements in England and Wales are:

  • The death has to be certified by a doctor or Coroner.
  • The death is registered with a Registrar of Births, Deaths, Marriages and Civil Partnerships.
  • The body should either be cremated or buried.
  • There is no legal requirement to have any kind of funeral ceremony at all.

Documents you need before you can arrange a funeral

You need to give the Funeral Director, Crematorium or Cemetery Office the following forms:


  • Green Certificate for Burial (Form 9) from the Register Office – or Order for Burial (Form 10) if the Coroner was involved.


  • Application for Cremation (Form 1) signed by the next of kin or Executor.
  • Green Certificate for Cremation (Form 9) from the Register Office, or Order for Cremation (Form 6) if the Coroner was involved.
  • Medical forms 4 and 5 (completed by the doctor(s) who dealt with the deceased).

Choices to consider

A funeral can be either by burial or by cremation.

You can organise it with or without a Funeral Director and personalise it as much as you wish. In some cases the deceased may have planned their own funeral in advance. If you have the funeral at the Crematorium and are planning a very personalised funeral, it is best to check with the Crematorium Manager beforehand as you may well need a double time slot.

There are many different types of funeral and it is useful to remember that:

  • You can decide for yourself the form of any ceremony you choose to have.
  • You do not have to use a Funeral Director.
  • You can choose a religious, humanist or civil ceremony.
  • You do not have to use a Clergyman unless you want an Anglican service.
  • You can choose a ceremony that reflects any religious beliefs or multi-cultural traditions.
  • You do not have to hold the funeral ceremony in a licensed building – it can be held in your home.
  • Your ceremony does not have to take place in a Crematorium or place of worship.
  • You can be buried on private land, such as your own garden, as long as there is nothing in the deeds restricting the use of the property. Before the burial you must inform your local Planning Office and Environmental Health Department.

Key decisions

Several key decisions will need to be made (download checklist of key decisions). If you are using a Funeral Director they will help you.

  • Where the body should rest before the funeral.
  • Time and place of the funeral (this can only be finalised once the order for burial/cremation has been issued).
  • Type of service (civil or religious), who will conduct it and who will contribute to it.
  • How much to spend on the funeral.
  • Whether to have flowers, or instead donate money to a chosen charity.
  • Sending out invitations.
  • Placing a notice in the newspapers.

Simple ways to personalise the funeral service

  • Think about music – you may not want to use traditional organ music. You might prefer a CD or live music. Discuss it with relatives, your Funeral Director and the person you have chosen to conduct the funeral ceremony. Bournemouth Crematorium has a Wesley Music System and can download any music of your choice. You can also arrange an audio-visual tributeContact the Crematorium Office to discuss options or ask your Funeral Director to do this on your behalf.
  • Think about individual contributions – you might want to include a reading, a poem or a favourite story. Plan a running order that will provide you with the kind of ceremony you want.
  • Consider using personal items as part of the ceremony. These will help to reflect the person who has died and make the ceremony more special. For example; scented candles, a special throw to drape over the coffin or a photograph of the person.
  • You could have a photograph or photographs of the person on the order of ceremony which people could then take away as a memento, or give everyone a small card of remembrance of the deceased person.
  • You could also stream the service online for friends or relatives who are unable to attend

The ceremony should reflect the wishes of you, your family and friends. You can decide on the details of the ceremony to make sure this happens.

Taking the deceased’s wishes into account

Remember to check the deceased’s Will or other written instructions for special wishes about their funeral or what should happen to their body. However, the Executor does not have to follow the instructions about the funeral left in the Will.

If there are no clear wishes, it is generally the Executor or nearest relative who decides whether the body is to be cremated or buried.