Skip to main content

Can You Cremate a Body Yourself?

Here at Newrest Funerals, we are sometimes asked whether or not it is possible to cremate a body without recourse to a professional crematorium. The answer to this is basically, no, you cannot cremate a body yourself. That said, it is possible for you to hire a crematorium and to undertake the service yourself without booking an officiant, a religious minister or a celebrant. So, in a sense, you can run things as you see fit – within the rules of the crematorium concerned, of course – as only the body’s disposal is regulated under UK law, not services as such. 

We will help you to arrange a cremation service however you would like. It is worth noting that we sometimes arrange funeral services at funeral homes that do not have their own crematorium. Under such circumstances, the coffin will usually be taken away to a licensed crematorium allowing you to collect the remains of the body at a later date, perhaps to disperse them in another ceremony with close family and friends.

Find out more

Why Is Cremation Regulated in the UK?

Given the popularity of cremations in the UK which now outnumber burials by a significant margin, you may ask yourself why there are rules that govern them. The basic answer to this question is public health. Open-air funeral pyres are not allowed anywhere in the country for two basic reasons. The first is that when such forms of cremation were allowed, the temperatures that were achieved by the people who staged them were often not hot enough to incinerate the body properly. In short, it takes quite a lot of fuel, especially in an unconfined space such as you would find in a crematorium’s furnace, to burn a body fully. In turn, this led to the chance of some communicable diseases being passed on, a cause for public health concern.

Secondly, cremations staged outside on funeral pyres tended to need so much fuel that they caused outbreaks of fire elsewhere, especially if the wind picked up. Particularly in urban environments, this could have caused devastation to property and even put people’s lives in danger. Therefore, for both reasons, British legislators decided to make it only possible for a crematorium licensed for the purpose of cremating human remains to be used for modern cremation services. Note that different regulations apply to the cremation of pets and other animals.

Legal Considerations For Cremations

We keep an open mind with funeral arrangements of all kinds, here at Newrest Funerals. Given our widespread experience, we sometimes hear some people argue that just because the regulations state that a licensed crematorium must be used for formal cremations, funeral pyres are not specifically outlawed. This might be so but the Ministry of Justice’s current advice makes it clear that attempting to bypass the regulations with such an argument could lead to prosecution. Therefore, if you really want an open-air cremation, you should ask us about transporting the body of the deceased to a country where pyres are allowed. We have a great deal of experience in body repatriations and international arrangements to share.