Arranging a funeral yourself, including burials and cremations.

A funeral can only take place after a death is registered.

The majority of people use a funeral director, but you can arrange a funeral yourself.

Arranging the funeral 

Call us or visit South Bristol to book a funeral.

You can start to arrange a funeral before the death is registered.

You'll need to visit the cemetery or crematoria office within 24 hours of making your booking to collect forms to fill in.

You can use our chapels to arrange religious or non-religious services.

Services can take place Monday to Friday between 9:00am and 3.45pm.

What we need to know

If you're booking a cremation, we need to know:

  • date and time of proposed cremation service
  • name of the person who died
  • your name and contact telephone number
  • date and time for cremated ashes collection
  • type of cremated ashes memorial if required

When booking a burial we need to know:

  • date and time of proposed burial
  • if you want to use the Chapel for a service
  • if the burial will be in a new or existing grave
  • if an existing grave we need to know the grave owners name
  • name of deceased
  • your name and contact telephone number

New graves

New graves are only available at South Bristol Cemetery.

We have dedicated areas at South Bristol Cemetery for these religions:

  • Ba'hai
  • Chinese
  • Jewish
  • Polish
  • Muslim

The coffin


The coffin must have a hard smooth base to allow us to put the body in the cremator. This can be:

  • A standard coffin. You can buy them from funeral directors.
  • A coffin made by yourself, using chipboard as the preferred material, you can use a small number of ferrous screws, wood braces give strength but can't be on the underside, no PVC, sealant, plastic or heavy metal like lead can be used
  • Environmentally friendly coffins, made from wicker or cardboard: need to have a solid smooth wood ply base so they can be passed easily into the cremators,.
    If you want an open-type basket weave the body must be wrapped in a cotton blanket, coffins can be decorated, but the coatings can't have gloss or extensive paint finishes.

What you need to know:

The coffin must:

  • have the full name of the deceased on the coffin as a plate, a card, or painted or written on the lid or sides.
  • have absorbent cloth or cotton wadding inside the coffin as fluid can leak from the body
  • not be bigger than 82" long, 28" wide and 21" high, casket shaped coffins can't be bigger than 78" long for Canford Crematorium, 
  • not be bigger than 84" long, 28" wide, and 22" high at for South Bristol Crematorium,


Coffins for burial must be made of perishable materials and must have the full name of the deceased on it.

Burial without a coffin is allowed but the body must be wrapped. The wrapped body must be secured to a solid board so it can be lowered into the grave.

Transporting the body

You need to arrange transport of the coffin to pick up the body and then to take the body to the crematorium or place of burial.

You can hire a hearse and driver from a local funeral director.

Speak to the hospital or mortuary for help with picking up the body.

Funeral directors

If you don't want to arrange a funeral yourself, you can find local funeral directors using these services:

National Association of Funeral Directors
Telephone: 0845 230 1343

Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors
Telephone: 0845 230 677