Coffin Requirements and Transporting the Body

The following information is provided for guidance if you are arranging a funeral yourself without the assistance of a funeral director.

Coffins Suitable for Cremation

The coffin must have a hard, smooth base so it can be placed in the cremator. Allowed options for the type of coffin are as follows.

  • A standard coffin can be bought from some funeral directors. Standard coffins are usually made of chipboard with veneers and fittings approved for cremation purposes.
  • You can construct your own coffin, using chipboard as the preferred material. Ferrous screws are acceptable in small numbers and wood braces will give strength, but must not be placed on the underside. No PVC, sealant, plastic or heavy metal, e.g. lead, should be used. Handles are useful, but not necessary.
  • Coffins made of cardboard or wicker can be suitable, but they must have a smooth wood ply base. If an open-type basket weave is to be used we suggest that the body is wrapped in a cotton shroud.
  • Coffins can be decorated, but the coatings must be compatible with cremation. Gloss or extensive paint finishes cannot be used.
  • The full name of the deceased must be displayed on the coffin either in the form of a plate or card, or painted or written on the lid or sides. Absorbent cloth or cotton wadding must also be used in the coffin as fluid may leak from the body.
  • The maximum external coffin size allowed is 2.08 metres (82 inches) long, 84 centimetres (33 inches) wide and 63 centimetres (25 inches) high.

Coffins Suitable for Burial

Coffins for burial should be made of perishable materials and must display the full name of the deceased.

Transporting the Body

You will need to make arrangements for the body to be transported from the hospital or mortuary to a place of rest and then onto the cemetery or crematorium. To do this usually requires an estate car or van or you can hire a hearse and driver from a funeral director.

If using your own vehicle to transport the coffin you should tell the local police and give details of your planned route. They will then be able to give advice on road safety and/or restrictions.

You will also need at least 4 people who can carry the coffin to and from the vehicle and on to the catafalque.

Page last updated: 01/06/2017