What is a burial service?

A burial service is usually a short ceremony held after the main funeral service as the coffin is lowered into the ground. Mourners are often invited to attend the burial, which may include short readings and prayers, depending on religious beliefs.

This step-by-step guide provides an overview of how to arrange a burial service and what’s involved before, during, and after the funeral:

What paperwork do I need for a burial?
What happens at a burial service?
Burial plots
Burial costs
What to wear to a burial service

Free advice from our funeral specialists

Losing someone is never easy, but there are a number of alternative funeral ideas which will help you give your loved one a fitting farewell, and may bring you comfort during such a difficult time.
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What paperwork will you need for a burial service?

When arranging a burial service, you should check you have everything you need to start the process. Before a burial funeral can take place, you will need to provide the following paperwork. Our caring professionals will make sure these are completed and submitted.

A burial certificate

Also known as the green form. This is obtained when you register the death of a loved one.

If you wish to purchase a new grave or re-open an existing burial plot, you will need to sign an application form which is often issued by your local council or cemetery.

The exclusive right of burial is typically purchased for a period of 75 years and the burial plot will have certain conditions attached to it depending on the type of grave.

If your family already own the Exclusive Rights of Burial for a grave, and you can produce either the Deed of Exclusive Rights of Burial or evidence that you are the proper person to have the Burial Rights, then arrangements can be made for an interment to take place.

If a coroner or procurator fiscal is involved

If a coroner holds an inquest, an order for burial (form 101) will be issued in place of the green form.

In Scotland, if a post-mortem is held, the death certificate will be issued by the pathologist. The funeral can take place after the death certificate is issued. A copy of the post-mortem examination report, which usually gives the cause of death, can also be requested.

What happens before a burial?

Before the burial takes place, the hearse will take the coffin or casket to the cemetery or churchyard and limousines carrying chief mourners will follow in the funeral procession.

Depending on the beliefs of you and your loved one, a burial service can be religious or non-religious. Some burials begin with a separate funeral service, which can be held in a place of worship or other venue separate from the cemetery.

Where is a burial service held?

A burial service can be held at a:

  • Churchyard 
  • Cemetery
  • Woodland burial site

The burial plot will typically be prepared in advance, making sure it is the correct size to accommodate the coffin and also in the right location, ready for when the service takes place.

What happens at a burial service?

A burial service usually takes place after the main funeral service. It is common tradition to scatter soil onto the coffin after it has been lowered, while other people may choose to throw funeral flowers into the grave. When the ceremony concludes, family and friends place floral tributes near the grave.

Burial plots

Our Funeral Directors will be on hand to help you check local regulations and availability when choosing a grave or burial plot, also known as a ‘cemetery plot’, for your loved one.

If you already have a family burial plot, we can arrange for it to be reopened before the burial. If this is the case, we will require the deeds and relevant paperwork. Please do not worry if this paperwork isn’t available, as our Funeral Directors will be able to help locate these for you.

If you would like burial plots which are next to each other, you can enquire about purchasing or reserving multiple plots. If this is the case, please speak to the local authorities about buying a plot and to talk through their specific rules and regulations.

Burial costs

Burial costs vary significantly across the UK and are beyond our control. Our Funeral Directors will be on hand to co-ordinate these third party costs on your behalf.

When you’re planning a burial service for your loved one, it’s important to keep costs in mind. The overall cost of a burial funeral can include the following fees:

1. The exclusive right of burial (EROB) – this is the physical space itself, often known as the burial plot
2. The interment – this fee is for the preparation of the burial plot or grave
3. Reopening an existing burial plot
4. Removal and replacement of existing memorials
5. Purchasing a new memorial or headstone
6. The coffin or casket for your loved one


It’s important to take your loved one’s wishes into account when deciding on how to plan a burial service. Please remember that if the deceased was not a resident of the area you wish to bury them in, unfortunately the cost may be significantly more. Our Funeral Directors will be able to advise you on costs and local charges.


What to wear to a burial funeral

What to wear to a burial funeral depends entirely on if you are planning a traditional burial, and on personal preference. Burial traditions vary by religion, beliefs, and culture. Some people may make their wishes clear in their funeral planning, by specifying a dress code.

Many people wear black to funerals, though it is becoming more commonplace to ask attendees to wear brighter colours. If you are unsure, we recommend checking with the immediate family beforehand. For more advice, read our guide what to wear to a funeral

Talk to your local Funeral Director about a burial service

Your local Dignity Funeral Director will help arrange a burial service for your loved one. Contact us to find out more about burial services near you.

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The day of the funeral

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Choosing a type of funeral

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Planning a funeral

Planning a funeral

This section will guide you through planning a fitting funeral service for a loved one…

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Humanist Funerals

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Eco burial

An eco burial is an environmentally-friendly alternative to a traditional...

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Burial at sea

Burial at sea

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What type of services

We offer two funeral choices, allowing you to arrange a funeral which is suited to you, the wishes of your loved one and your budget. If you would like to arrange an entirely personal and bespoke commemoration, our Full Service Funeral will help celebrate your loved one’s life story. Alternatively, if you are able to be a little more flexible on certain aspects of the funeral, our Simple Funeral includes all of the essentials at a lower cost.

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Our Full Service Funeral allows you to create an entirely personal and bespoke commemoration, reflecting the individual life of your loved one.

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Our Simple Funeral offers a complete funeral at a lower cost, without compromising on the quality of the service that is delivered.

9. Discover what happens on the day

Once you’ve made all of the funeral arrangements, it’s important to understand what happens on the day of the funeral. If you’re unsure of what to expect, our funeral arrangers will explain everything you need to know.

We will guide you through each step, attending to your every need before, during, and after the service takes place.

Learn more about the funeral procession, funeral service, committal service, and the wake.

Alternative hearses

Talk to an expert funeral specialist today for free advice.

No jargon, no pressure and a sympathetic ear from our funeral specialists when you need it most.
call us on 0800 861 1891  or request a call back.

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