Organising a funeral yourself

Although a funeral director organises most funerals, some people prefer to do it themselves.

If you wish to arrange a funeral yourself the only legal requirement is that the death must be certified and registered, and the body must be disposed of by burial or cremation.

Death certificate

You will need a death certificate from the doctor who last attended the person who has died. You might get the certificate immediately from the doctor or have to visit the surgery or hospital at a later date.

If however, the doctor is unable to state the cause of death, or if a medical practitioner has not recently attended the person who has died, the Coroner will be informed and a post mortem may be required.

When the body is released for burial or cremation, you may return the body home until the day of the arranged burial or cremation if you wish, you don't need to have an undertaker.

Registering a death

The next of kin or person arranging the funeral must take the death certificate to the Registrar of Births and Deaths within five days of the death.

If the Coroner has been involved, and an inquest is to be held, then they will issue a form to the Registrar who will then issue a Coroners Order for burial.

When an inquest is not held, the nearest surviving relative can register the death only when the Coroner has confirmed the cause of death to the Registrar.

Forms you must complete

Before any burial or cremation can take place, you must submit certain forms to us. Please contact us and we will discuss exactly what is required.

Care of the body before the funeral

If the body is not kept in the hospital mortuary or with an undertaker, you may keep the body at home in a well ventilated, cool room.

You can buy a coffin from us, an undertaker, directly from a coffin manufacturer or make one yourself (providing it conforms to the crematoriums regulations).

Please contact us to discuss what local restrictions apply on the type of coffin permitted in our facilities.


You can collect the body in a suitable vehicle, but if you intend to use an estate car, van or people carrier ensure the coffin or container, if used, will fit in it. Bear in mind you will need help to handle a coffin.

If you don't have a suitable vehicle you can buy this service from an undertaker.

The service

For a burial or cremation you will need to arrange for a minimum of four people to carry the coffin into the Chapel, and lower the coffin into the grave (if it is a burial service), or you can arrange for an undertaker or cemetery staff to do this.

All people intending to carry or lower the coffin may be asked to complete a disclaimer.

© Wigan Council