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Arranging a funeral

How to arrange a funeral, legal requirements, the documents you’ll need and the key decisions to make. 

Legal requirements 

The main legal requirements in England and Wales are that: 

  • the death must 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. 

Required documents  

Before you can arrange a funeral, there are certain forms you’ll need to give to the funeral director, crematorium or cemetery office. 

For burials, you’ll need to provide a Green Certificate for Burial (Form 9) or, if the coroner was involved, an Order for Burial (Form 10). 

For a cremation, you must provide: 

  • an Application for Cremation (Form 1) signed by the next of kin or executor 
  • a Green Certificate for Cremation (Form 9) from the register office or an Order for Cremation (Form 6) if the coroner was involved 
  • medical forms 4 and 5, completed by the doctor who dealt with the deceased. 


A funeral can be either by burial at one of our cemeteries or by cremation at Bournemouth Crematorium or Poole Crematorium.  

There’s no legal requirement to have any kind of funeral ceremony at all, and they can be organised with or without a funeral director.   

If you choose to have a ceremony, it can be personalised as much as you wish. In some cases, the deceased may have planned their own funeral in advance. If you have the funeral at a crematorium and are planning a personalised ceremony, it’s a good idea to check with the crematorium manager beforehand as you may need a double time slot. 

There are many different types of funerals and it’s useful to remember that you can: 

  • decide the form of any ceremony you choose to have 
  • choose a religious, humanist or civil ceremony 
  • choose a ceremony that reflects any religious beliefs or multicultural traditions 
  • be buried on private land, such as your own garden, if there’s nothing in the deeds restricting the use of the property and the local planning office and environmental health department have been informed. 

You do not have to: 

  • use a funeral director 
  • use a clergyman unless you want an Anglican service 
  • hold the funeral ceremony in a licensed building, it can even be held in your home 
  • hold your ceremony in a crematorium or place of worship. 

Key decisions 

When planning a funeral, you’ll need to consider: 

  • where the body should rest before the funeral 
  • the time and place of the funeral, which can only be finalised once the order for burial or cremation has been issued 
  • who will conduct and contribute to the civil or religious service  
  • how much to spend on the funeral 
  • whether to have flowers or donate money to a chosen charity 
  • sending out invitations 
  • placing a notice in the newspapers. 

The funeral service 

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. 


You may not want to use traditional organ music, opting instead for a CD or live music. Perhaps discuss this with relatives, your funeral director and the person you have chosen to conduct the ceremony.  

Bournemouth Crematorium has a Wesley Media system which allows you to download any music of your choice. Audio-visual tributes are available at Bournemouth and Poole crematoriums. Both also offer a livestreaming service for friends or relatives who are unable to attend the service. 

Personalising the ceremony 

Think about individual contributions. You may want to include a reading, a poem or a favourite story. You could also consider using personal items as part of the ceremony. These could include scented candles, a special throw to drape over the coffin or a photograph of the person. Personal items will help reflect the person who has died and make the ceremony more special.  

The deceased’s wishes 

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 funeral instructions left in the will. 

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