When To Arrange A Funeral (How Long After Death)

Category: Planning A Funeral


Losing someone is always tough. Not only will there be a difficult period of mourning, but family and friends may be left wondering about all of the other details that will need to be taken care of.

If you have been tasked with the responsibility of making the funeral arrangements for the bereaved, knowing when to arrange a funeral, and understanding the funeral timings can help to make this overwhelming time of grief a little easier.

Read on to find out how long after death a funeral should be in the UK and important steps to take in between.

Death Certificate

The first step to take when it comes to funeral timings is to register the death itself. For this, you will need to obtain a ‘Medical Cause of Death Certificate’. Generally speaking, a death needs to be registered within 5 days, or 8 days in Scotland.

If the death was expected, you will be able to get the medical certificate from the GP. If the death was unexpected, then you should speak to the hospital doctor to obtain this.It’s important to register the death within this timeframe, as there are consequences for not doing so.

If an individual fails to inform a registrar within the allocated 5 days, they can risk being fined. But there are exceptions to this rule, such as instances whereby the coroner needs to investigate the death or it’s taking longer than expected to get hold of the medical certificate for the deceased.

You can register the death online directly on the Government’s website. This will then be confirmed, and a green certificate will be issued. This will be required in order to carry out either the cremation or burial.

How long after death should a funeral be?

A funeral can take place any time after a person’s death. Once you’ve carried out the registration and are in possession of the green certificate, you will need to find a suitable funeral director. This can be overwhelming, especially in an already stressful period of time.

Some helpful places to look are The National Directory of Funeral Directors or NAFD. Or the Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors - SAIF.

In some cases, you may find that a pre-paid funeral plan has already been put in place. As the name would suggest, this ensures that the cost of the funeral has already been taken care of in advance and at the cost of your funeral director’s services. This can help to take out a large amount of the stress at such a difficult time.

When it comes to funeral timings, common practice is for the funeral director to organise this once they have received the green certificate. Although there’s nothing to prevent the family or friends from organising the service themselves. If there is no-one, then health officials will be able to arrange a low-cost funeral.

The funeral director will move the body of the bereaved to a place of rest ahead of the funeral. If the body needs to be moved for a funeral to take place abroad, you will need permission from a coroner in order to do so. Apply a minimum of 4 days before you want the body to be moved.

Are there any exceptions?

You may be aware of certain faiths or religions that dictate a slightly different instance it comes to funeral timings. For example at a Jewish funeral, it’s not uncommon for a funeral to take place within 24 hours of death. As the core belief is that the soul can only be released to heaven once the body has turned to dust, and family members must be able to grieve as soon as possible, the funeral must take place urgently.