Buying a Burial Plot

A guide to buying a grave, the cost of a grave and how long Exclusive Right of Burial lasts

Last updated: 1 August 2019

burial spot in a graveyard

Image by Mary Bettini Blank from Pixabay

Buying a grave is something that some people think about long before they die, while for other people the cost of a burial plot is something they didn’t anticipate as a funeral ‘extra.’

Whether you arrange a funeral or a loved one has taken out a pre-paid funeral plan, it can come as a surprise to learn that the grave itself is a third party cost, known as a disbursement.

Buying a burial plot is a third party fee that’s added to the total bill when you arrange a funeral.

If you’ve taken out a funeral plan, burial and cremation fees are not usually part of the fixed-price deal, because the cost of burial and cremation mostly change year on year.

Depending on where you die, or wish to be buried, the cost of a grave can vary from a green burial plot that your family may even help to dig, for a few hundred pounds, to a family-sized plot in a London cemetery costing thousands of pounds.

However you can buy your own grave long before you need it – although technically speaking, graves in traditional cemeteries and many churchyards are leased spaces and not real estate for all eternity.

How do you buy a burial plot?

You can buy a burial plot in a number of different ways and a funeral director can help you with this when someone dies, or if you are buying a burial plot in advance.

You could also find a crematorium with cremation ashes plots, a cemetery, or green burial ground and contact them about purchasing a grave in advance.

Your parish council or church should also be able to provide you with information about buying a grave in a local churchyard.

How much does a burial plot cost?

The cost of a burial plot varies depending on the location of the grave and the type of plot you want to purchase.

A standard, single-depth burial could cost anything from a few hundred pounds (in rural areas) to thousands of pounds if you are based in and around London. Our guide to burials has even more information on the costs involved.

How much does a cremation plot cost?

The cost of a cremation burial plot can be around half the cost of a full sized grave, but can also vary according to the location of the cemetery and where the grave itself is situated.

It can sometimes cost more to be buried if you are not a local resident of the parish or if you wish to be buried in a particular location in the churchyard or cemetery.

Costs increase, too if the grave, cremation or green burial plot you’re buying is for more than one person to eventually be buried in.

The cost of a grave is split into three parts:

  • The burial rights – known as Grave Deeds, or Right of Burial documents

  • An interment fee

  • The cost of digging and backfilling the grave.

  • Other costs to factor in can include the cost of buying a grave stone or grave marker, and having it placed on the site by a stonemason approved by the burial ground or cemetery.

When a double or family grave or cremation plot is reopened for a new burial or interment, this is subject to costs, including for digging the site and the temporary removal and replacement of any stonework or masonry.

How much does a woodland burial plot cost?

A green or woodland burial is usually less expensive than a traditional burial, and is an increasingly popular choice among those who would like a green funeral.

Green burials, too range in price from a few hundred pounds to a couple of thousand.

Unlike a traditional burial plot whose lease needs to be renewed after a set period, a woodland burial is one-time purchase, which means that your final resting place is intended to remain undisturbed in perpetuity.

The cost of a woodland burial plot also varies according to size and location of the plot and can vary from a few hundred pounds (in remote or rural areas) to several thousands of pounds, depending on where you live.

How long does a burial plot lease last?

When you buy a burial plot, you’re not purchasing the actual plot of land, but the right to be buried there for a set number of years, which is usually between an initial 50 and 100 years.

In effect, the grave is leased and you are buying the Exclusive Right of Burial in the plot for you and your family.

It’s possible to extend the lease on an existing grave and you’ll need documentation including death certificates, birth certificates and wills or deeds of grants over the grave. You may also need the agreement of relatives who have an equal claim over the plot.

In cemeteries where there is high demand – ‘new’ graves offered for sale may be a plot that someone else was originally buried in. Old Victorian graves in city cemeteries, for instance, can be repurposed in this way.

This usually happens when there has been no new burial in the grave for 75 years or more. Where a Right of Burial has expired, the cemetery owner will usually try to contact any next of kin or descendants, first.

A new grave on an old plot is dug down to its standard depth of 1.8 metres. Usually, there are no remains after so long a period, but any that are uncovered are reinterred below what’s technically the bottom of the new grave.

  • We have an extensive guide to funeral costs for you to read, packed with information about the costs involved in arranging a funeral.