Guide to Third Party Fees

Third party fees refer to the charges for:

  • Cremation cost
  • Interment cost (for a burial)
  • Minister or Celebrant cost

These are additional costs incurred by the Funeral Director in addition to the services that they provide (organising the funeral; collection, care and preparation of the deceased; provision of funeral hearse and bearers etc.)

Medical Certification Fees

In the case of cremation medical certification fees MAY apply (also known as Doctors Fees) in England and Wales only. For deaths where a coroner investigation is required, there are no medical certification fees.

Also, changes to legislation in May 2015 mean there is NOT a charge for a medical certification for any deaths registered in Scotland.

Similar legal changes are being considered for the rest of the UK, however currently If the funeral takes place outside of Scotland, and a coroner is not involved, then if applicable, the medical certification fees of £164 must be paid when arranging the funeral that includes a cremation. According to Golden Leaves Funeral Plans only 50% of funerals incur medical certification fees.

Some Funeral Plan providers include medical certification fees in the allowance for 3rd party charges whilst others do not. This information is detailed when you compare funeral plans.

Please Click Here to compare plans.

The legal change being considered  is to improve the death certification process involving the proposed introduction of medical examiners and reforms to the process of Death Certification in England and Wales. The reforms are expected to be introduced from April 2018. Based on current information published on the Department of Health government website the below is expected:

All deaths will be scrutinised in a robust and proportionate way, regardless of whether they are followed by burial or cremation, making the system fairer.

Medical certification and the registration of all deaths not requiring coroner’s post-mortem or inquest will be examined in the same way, including:

  • unified arrangements for burial and cremation
  • a simpler process for arranging funerals
  • removal of any inequalities

All deaths will be scrutinised in a thorough and proportionate way, regardless of whether they are followed by burial or cremation, making the system fairer.

The certified cause of death is explained to relatives. Relatives will also be given an opportunity to discuss any concerns they might have about the care provided to the person who has died and report the death to a coroner.

The Department of Health’s preferred option for England is a nationally-set fee. The consultation documents and assumptions suggest this fee will be between £80 and £100.

For most people, the new system will cost less, but it will introduce this new fee for those who choose burial. The Department of Health states that: Families opting for burial deserve the same degree of safeguard and assurance about the circumstances surrounding their loved one’s death. [hence why the same charge will apply whether the choice of funeral be cremation or burial].

For further information about the proposed introduction of medical examiners and reforms to the process of Death Certification in England and Wales please Click Here.

Introduction of Medical Examiners and Death Certification Reform in England

On 11th June 2018 the Department of Health and Social Care has announced its reforms to death certification in England. The new Medical Examiner (ME) system will be implemented from April 2019 to cover all deaths by the end of 2019 and become a statutory requirement 2 years later from 2021.

The primary instigators for this new system are those from the Shipman enquiry. Harold Shipman was a General Practitioner (GP) who murdered hundreds of his patients and wrote MCCDs (Medical Certificate of cause of death) that reported the cause of death as being due to natural causes. This was not detected, and he continued his criminal activities over several decades. The reforms aim to help identify poor care and protect patients.

The reforms include a new universal check by a Medical Examiner (ME) applicable to all non-coronial deaths, this means deaths that have not been investigated by a coroner and a coroner report produced. The new reforms apply to both cremation and burial and whilst this fee will be a new burden on those being buried, it represents a reduced burden on the majority of the bereaved who are cremated (80%). Having a flat fee on all adult deaths that are certified by an ME ensures all deaths are treated equally and scrutinised on a consistent basis. ME fees for children will be funded by the DHSC.

The current medical certification fees for cremation are £164 for forms 4 and 5 and approximately £20 for form 10. The cost of form 10 is usually including in the cremation fee and it is the payment for forms 4 and 5 that are usually paid to the funeral director who pay the doctors. It is proposed that the collection of fees for the ME system (including burial cases) will be collected the same way; the difference being that the new system of a flat fee for both cremation and burial will be paid direct to the NHS and not doctors. All cases referred to a coroner would not require intervention of ME and will not incur the fee, this includes cases referred to a coroner by the ME themselves.

The flat fee will be lower than current fees for cremation. During the 2-year implementation process from April 2019 the medical certification fees for cremation will remain the same. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will be funding the set-up costs of the ME system in 2018/19. Following this there will be an interim period of 2 years, 2019/20 and 2020/21, where both the current cremation forms (4, 5, and 10) will continue and apply and the new ME system will commence before moving forward to a statutory ME system in 2021/22; the new flat fee will commence from this time for both cremation and burial. The statutory ME system will mean that the current cremation forms will cease to be applied and ME functions will be applied for all deaths that are not referred to a coroner (including burials).

The Medical Certificate of cause of death (MCCD), required to register the death, will remain. This MCCD will be scrutinised by an ME. Pilots have been run to test the new system which have reported that the accuracy of MCCDs has improved and inappropriate referrals to a coroner have reduced whilst appropriate referrals have increased. Introduction of medical examiner (ME) process has not delayed cremations and burials in pilots.

The ME will be supported by a Medical Examiner Officer who will gather information from different sources to prepare the case for scrutiny. MEs will be independent and appropriately trained. This means that both the independence and the quality of the scrutiny should improve, allowing death certification to achieve its aims of deterring poor practice and crime, providing assurance to patients and generating data for epidemiological studies and public health policy. A National ME (NME) will be a senior doctor appointed to provide leadership and advice to MEs and funded by DHSC.

The responsibility of paying the new flat fee will be that of the informant that registers the death. It is expected that Wales will follow the same reforms as England.

How doe this effect funeral plans?

Currently funeral plans for burial do not include payment for medical fees and therefore the ME fee will be payable at the time of need. Funeral plans that include an allowance for third party fees that includes medical certification fees required for cremation may allow the allowance to contribute towards the ME fee for burial however this has not been announced.

Funeral plans that currently include payment of doctors’ fees for cremation will include the ME fee.

Funeral plans that do not include the payment of doctors’ fees (these providers being Golden Charter, Dignity, AGE UK, Golden Leaves, Silver Clouds, Simplicity and Simplicita) will not include the payment of the new ME fee and this will need to paid at the time of need for both cremation and burial.

The reforms start to take effect in April 2019 however the ME fee is not payable until it becomes statutory 2 years later in 2021 so up to this time there are no medical fees payable for burial and the medical fees required for cremation will remain the same. In all cases there are no medical fees payable for burial or cremation when a coroner’s report is available.

Should you require further information please do get in touch, for details about how to Contact Us please Click Here.

Useful to know:

  1. Interment fees do NOT include the cost of the burial plot.
  2. Cremation, interment and burial plot charges are usually higher for people who are not resident in the area
  3. If a cremation or burial is required at the weekend the charge is often higher
  4. Third party fees do NOT include provision for the cost of a death certificate, a death certificate needs to be obtained by a family member/authorised person, when the death is registered and is £11 per copy in England and Wales, the charge in Scotland is £10.
  5. Medical certification fees are only required for cremations.
  6. A celebrant is a non religious person that conducts a funeral service and is often known as a Humanist
  7. Sometimes a person’s family may know someone who is prepared to conduct the funeral service for free, however this is down to individual relationships and is not common
  8. 3rd party costs for persons under 16 are much cheaper; in such circumstances many Funeral Directors provide their services for free – this includes Co-operative and Dignity who own their own funeral homes across the UK.

What does the Funeral Director do in relation to Third Party Fees?

The Funeral Director will make all the necessary arrangements that incur costs for:

  • Cremation / interment fees
  • Doctors fees (as applicable)
  • Minister / Celebrant fees

These costs are payable by the Funeral Director. For customers that have a funeral plan the plan may guarantee to cover these costs or provide an allowance towards them. If the allowance is small there may be an additional amount to pay to the funeral director by the family.

The value of the 3rd party fee allowance in a funeral plan increases each year, usually in line with inflation, so when the time comes the value will be higher than when the plan was initially purchased/put in place.

Although the funeral plan allowance cannot guarantee to cover the cost of 3rd party fees we advise that funeral plans that have a £1,200 allowance will be usually sufficient.

Memoria, Dignity funeral plans and the co-operative group guarantee to cover the cost of all cremation and minister/celebrant fees, these plans are also referred to as guaranteed plans.

The Memoria plans compared on this site are exclusive to Funeral Plan Market™ and also guarantee to cover medical certification fees required for cremation [when a coroner’s report is not available]. These exclusive plans are cheaper than comparable plans by up to £255 [depending on the plan]. To compare plans please Click Here.


Please note the information provided is a guide to costs which will vary by time, region, cemetery and crematorium. This information was last updated in February 2018.

Cremation Fees

Based on a survey of 289 crematorium across the UK the average price of cremation fees was £780. The highest price was £1,070 and the lowest price was £515.

Cremation Fees (Before 10am)

Based on a survey of 289 crematorium across the UK, 53% offer a lower price when the service is held before 10am. The average price was £627. The highest price was £910 and the lowest price was £274.

To view are full guide on cremation fees please Click Here.

Interment Fees:

Based on a survey of 125 cemeteries across the UK the average price of interment fees was £776. The lowest price was £375 and the highest price was £1,485 (in Greater London).

Minister/Celebrant Fees:

Based on a survey of Funeral Directors, across the UK, the price varied between £180-£210 for a minister or celebrant to conduct the service (an average of £195).

AVERAGE COSTS of 3rd Party Fees

Based on our research we would expect the average cost of 3rd party fees to be:

Cremation: £970 (not including medical certification fees); £1,134 including medical certification fees

Cremation before 10am: £817 (not including medical certification fees); £981 including medical certification fees

Burial: £971 (this does not include the plot)

Price Increases

Based on our research cremation and interment costs increase by an average of 2% per year – this varies with some outlets increasing each year and others increasing prices every few years.

The 3rd party allowance in a funeral plan increases in value each year – usually by the same rate of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or the Retail Price index (RPI).  The measure used varies by funeral plan provider.

Burial Plots:

Based on a Survey of 125 cemeteries across the UK,  the average cost of a single burial plot was £970. The lowest price was £203 and the highest price was £3,275 (in Greater London).

The cost a burial plot to accommodate more than 1 person is higher although the cost per person often then works our cheaper.

In some cases, although not often, the cost of the burial plot includes interment fees. In many cases the ownership of the burial plot is restricted by time which can vary between 25 and 100 years.

Burial plots costs vary greatly and the terms of the plot differ by cemetery. If you are not a resident in the area of the cemetery the cost of a burial plot will be considerably higher. We recommend you contact your local council to find out which cemetery is local to you and their charges.

Arranging and purchasing a burial plot is not included in any funeral plan. Should a person purchase a funeral plan to provide a burial then the burial plot must be purchased separately and the funeral plan provider notified of where the burial plot is.

Should a person purchase a burial plan and decide to be cremated instead there is usually no charge for changing the burial plan to a cremation plan, please make your funeral plan provider aware of your requirement.

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