Arranging a funeral service so soon after a loved one has passed can be a distressing time for all involved, but the timescale may not be as long as first thought.
How long after death is a funeral?
A funeral service normally takes 1 to 2 weeks (7 to 14 days) to arrange and organise. Getting all the relevant paperwork filed correctly, gathering family and friends together in one place at short notice and making choices about the service are some of the factors that can increase this timescale.
In this guide, we outline when you can begin arranging a funeral and some things to consider that may impact the 1 to 2 week timescale.
Registering a death
Once the cause of death has been confirmed by a GP or through a Coroner’s Inquest, you must register the death within five days if you are in England, Wales or Northern Ireland and within eight days if you are in Scotland.
To register a death, you will need to contact a registry office – you will have to contact the registry office for the place where the person died, rather than for where they lived – a funeral director cannot register a death.
Once the death has been registered, you will receive:
- a Certificate for Burial or Cremation (the ‘green form’) – this gives permission for burial or an application for cremation
- a Certificate of Registration of Death (form BD8) – you may need to fill this in if the person was getting a State Pension or benefits
Find out more information on registering a death.
Making funeral arrangements
Whilst you wait for an appointment at the registrar office or for your documents to come through (burial or cremation cannot actually go ahead until you have the death certificate), you can start thinking and planning about the funeral service you’d like to create.
You may want to start contacting local funeral directors within a few days, as it can take a few phone calls or meetings to find the undertaker who feels right for you and your family’s needs. They’ll be happy to start planning the funeral with you and guiding you through the process – see our guide on what funeral directors do.
What can impact the funeral arrangement timescale?
Whilst 7 to 14 days is a reasonable timescale for a funeral to be arranged, there are some factors to consider when organising the service as these can impact this period of time.
Investigations into the death
A coroner in England is an official who investigates certain deaths in order to establish the cause – this may be because the circumstances were suspicious or the death was sudden. This process is called an inquest.
There may be a wait for a cremation or burial service date
Your chosen local crematorium, place of worship or cemetery may not be available immediately and you may need to wait for a suitable time slot. The waiting time can be up to 3 weeks, and varies by location, depending on how many crematoriums there are. Public holidays can also cause delays in arranging a funeral.
Family and friends may need time to travel
It can take several days for relatives and friends who want to come and pay their respects to make arrangements to travel from around the country or overseas. The funeral service itself can vary in length depending on what type of funeral you choose to go ahead with.
How to choose a funeral director?
Finding the right funeral director in your area has never been easier – the emergence of technologies and local directories gives families the information they need when choosing an undertaker.
Searching online for terms such as ‘funeral director near me’ can help you collate a list of potential candidates and from there, you can look around for a variety of key points and ask further questions if needed.