Family arranged funerals

Occasionally we are asked to offer advice and information on how people can arrange a funeral without the assistance of a funeral director. As members of the Charter for the Bereaved, we recognise the right of any individual to organise a funeral without the use of a funeral director and in response to this right we have set out procedures and requirements to help arrange such a funeral.

On this page:

Choosing the type of funeral

The choice of cremation or burial is decided by the person responsible for arranging the funeral. It may be that the deceased has already expressed their wishes in the form of a will or a funeral plan, which may influence the decision. Cultural requirements may also be a factor when deciding between burial and cremation.

Booking the funeral

When booking a funeral it is important to consider the following:

  • When are all the family available to attend
  • Do you require someone to perform the service, if so when are they available
  • How will you transport the deceased to the cemetery or crematorium
  • In the case of cremation - have you allowed enough time to submit the required paperwork
  • In the case of burial, what type of grave do you require
  • In the case of cremation, consider the content of the service to establish whether you may require an extended service time
  • You will need to contact a florist if you wish to arrange flowers
  • You will need to contact your local newspaper to arrange an obituary

Once a decision has been made about the funeral type and approximate date and time you would like to book the funeral, a booking should be made with Bereavement Services who will advise you of the available dates and times.

Paperwork required for a cremation

Once the booking has been made, the following paperwork must be completed, it is important that the required forms are completed accurately to ensure that the funeral can go ahead. The completed paperwork must be delivered to the crematorium at least 3 working days before the date of cremation. The exception to this is when the family wish to inspect the medical certificates in which case they must be submitted at least 5 working days before the date of cremation. 

Funeral Instruction - This form, which is attached to the Form 1, provides us with the information that we require for the arrangements you have requested.  It confirms the date and time of the service, and provides further details that were not given at the time of the booking.  A member of the Bereavement Services team can help you to complete this form.

Form 1 (Application for Cremation) - This statutory form is normally completed by the next of kin or executor (one person may be both).  If you are not the next of kin or executor but you are the person taking on the responsibility for the funeral, you will have to explain why.  You must be aged over 16 to complete this form.  You will also be asked various questions relating to the deceased, and whether the near relatives have been informed of the proposed cremation.  You will also be asked whether the deceased had any implant placed in the body which may be hazardous when the body is cremated; for example, a pacemaker or radioactive device.

Part 5 of this form offers you the right to inspect the medical forms relating to the death of the deceased (Forms 4 & 5).  If you know the cause of death and have no issues, you may decide that there is very little reason why you need to inspect these forms.  However if you do have doubts, or were surprised that the death happened when it did, you may decide that you would like to inspect them.  These forms do not provide information about the care of the deceased prior to death.

Authority for the disposal of cremated remains - This form will advise us about your wishes for the release or disposal of the cremated remains.  This form must be signed by the Applicant for Cremation (the person who signed the Form 1) as we can only follow their written instruction.

Forms 4 and 5 (Medical Certificates) - You must notify the doctor of the deceased, who attended during the last illness, and that you are arranging a cremation.  Whether a GP or hospital doctor, they will obtain these forms and complete them for you. There will be a charge for these forms to be signed.  

If the death is reported to the coroner, a Certificate for Cremation (Form 6) may be issued which negates the need for Forms 4 and 5.  This usually necessitates a post-mortem being carried out and, where appropriate, an inquest.  Reporting the death in this way is quite usual and you should not be alarmed.  If such a certificate is issued (free of charge) you will not need to pay for the doctors' forms.  The Coroner's officer or other staff will keep you informed of progress by the coroner.

Registrars Certificate of Cremation - This will be required at all times, except when the Coroner's certificate is issued.  You will need to visit the Registrar in the district where the deceased died. The Registrar will issue a Certificate for Cremation which should be passed to the Bereavement Services office as soon as possible.

Making arrangements for a cremation

Peterborough Crematorium does not provide a funeral directing service and cannot collect a deceased and transport them to the crematorium. 

Coffin

With cremation a coffin is essential to allow us to place the body in the cremator. A plaque or label containing the following information must be fixed to the lid of the coffin, or on the side of the coffin if the lid of the coffin is to be removed or obscured: 

  • The name of the person being cremated
  • The age of the person being cremated
  • The date of death of the person being cremated

The options are as follows:

  • You can use a standard coffin, all standard coffins for cremation are made from chipboard, usually veneered and must be fitted with cremation approved plastic and non-metal fittings (handles and nameplate).  
  • You can use a cardboard coffin with a solid wooden base or wicker coffin or similar. If you would like to construct your own coffin, please contact Bereavement Services for guidance.

Please note: In all cases the coffin dimensions should be no more than 84" long , 27" High and 39" Wide, however if the coffin is over 30" wide please provide this information as soon as possible. 

Transporting the coffin

The transport of the coffin, requires a van or large estate car, alternatively you may ask a funeral director to help you with this. You have a common law right as an executor to be given the body and will need to speak to the mortuary staff to arrange for the collection at which time you may require an additional person with you for assistance. They will inform you of any necessary procedures, but you will require the Registrar’s or Coroner’s Certificate for Cremation. 

Once you have removed the body, or if the deceased died at home, you need to consider how to proceed. The body can be retained at home up until the funeral, but the room must be cool and try to avoid difficult stairs. If you prefer the body may be held at the mortuary (with permission of the mortuary staff and a holding fee) and collected on the day of the funeral. 

Cremation procedure

The crematorium is operated in accordance with statutory regulations and the Code of Cremation Practice issued by the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities (FBCA), a copy of which is available on request. 

An appointment can be made, during office hours, to visit the crematorium, including the crematory and other non-public areas. During your visit you can discuss any issues of concern.

Paperwork required for a burial

Once the booking has been made, a set of paperwork must be completed as soon as possible. It is important that the required forms are completed accurately to ensure that the funeral can go ahead. 

Notice of burial: 

  • New grave - if the burial is to take place in a new grave, the next of kin or executor will need to sign the Notice of Burial.  The name and address of the person who signs the form will be the person who will own the exclusive right of burial lease to the grave and will have their name on the Grave Deed. 
  • Un-purchased grave - if the burial is to take place in an un-purchased grave, the next of kin or executor will be required to sign the Notice of Burial.
  • Previously purchased grave - If the burial is to take place in a previously purchased grave, the grave owner will be required to complete and sign the Notice of Burial. If the grave owner is deceased and is to be buried in the grave, the next of kin or executor will be required to complete and sign the form. If the grave owner is not contactable, or is deceased and not to be buried in the grave, a transfer of ownership of the Exclusive Right of Burial may be required.  

Registrars Certificate of Burial - This will be required at all times except when the Coroner's Order for Burial is issued.  You will need to visit the Register Office in the district where the deceased died.  The Registrar will issue a Certificate of Burial which should be passed to the Bereavement Services office as soon as possible

Certificate of Cremation - This will be required if cremated remains are to be buried in a cemetery or scattered at a crematorium.  This is issued by the crematorium where the cremation took place. 

Exclusive Right of Burial Deed - In the case of pre-purchased graves, please forward the Exclusive Right of Burial deed to the Bereavement Services office.

Making arrangements for a burial

We do not provide a funeral directing service and cannot collect a deceased and transport them to the cemetery.

The body of the person being buried must arrive at the cemetery in a coffin, casket, shroud or a container which has been approved by Bereavement Services. Each coffin must contain only one body. If a mother and baby die during childbirth, they can both be buried in the same coffin providing we have been advised beforehand; separate documentation has been received at the Bereavement Services office, and the coffin bears the identity of both to be interred.

A plaque or label containing the following information must be fixed to the lid of the coffin:

  • The name of the person being buried.
  • The age of the person being buried.
  • The date of death of the person being buried. 

The exact size of the coffin at its widest and longest point, including handles (extended if applicable) must be supplied at the earliest opportunity and, in any case, must be specified in the Notice of Burial. 

Transporting the coffin

The transport of the coffin, with or without the body, requires a van or large estate car. Alternatively you may ask a funeral director to help you with this. 

You have a common law right as an executor to be given the body and will need to speak to mortuary staff to arrange for the collection. They will inform you of any necessary procedures, but you will require the Registrar’s Certificate or Coroner's Order for Burial.

Grave location

If you would like to discuss or view the location of the grave before the day of burial, please contact Bereavement Services to make an appointment. 

Service type

If you do not wish to have a service in a place of worship, you can organise a graveside service.  You will need to arrange this with the officiant.  Alternatively a chapel is available for small congregations at Fletton Cemetery or a memorial service can be held at Peterborough Crematorium chapel.

Help with funeral costs

If you're on a low income and need help to pay for a funeral you're arranging, you may be able to get a Funeral Payment from the Social Fund. You might have to repay some or all of it from the estate of the person who died. 

Further information about help with funeral costs is available from GOV.UK.