San Diego

This funeral and cremation planning guide will answer some key questions you may have if faced with the task of making funeral arrangements. Regardless of whether you are researching with an interest in making a cremation plan for yourself or need to arrange a funeral or cremation service for a loved one who passed.  We have put together the following FAQs about cremation costs and funeral prices in the Greater San Diego area, including state funeral laws and where you can find help.

Direct cremation service $1,195  Call (619) 268-1962

What to do when a death occurs

After a death, you will first need to select a funeral home to handle funeral arrangements and transfer the deceased into their care.  The majority of deaths occur in a medical facility, where they can be held for a short period in the hospital morgue if necessary.  It is important not to feel like you have to rush this decision.

Allow yourself some time to select the right funeral service provider for your needs.

How to choose a funeral home or cremation service provider?

Cremation cost in San San Diego CA

If your loved one had no funeral plan, and you have no prior experience with a funeral home, this can be a difficult task.  There are around 26 funeral service locations in the San Diego area.  If you want to have a funeral ceremony, the actual location of the funeral home may be an important consideration. 

Also, if you are working toward a specific financial budget for the funeral cost, you will likely want to make funeral price comparisons before selecting a suitable funeral home.

Direct cremation service $1,195  Call (619) 268-1962

What funeral or cremation service options are there in San Diego?

As you have numerous funeral service locations serving the Greater San Diego area, you can arrange anything from a full-service traditional funeral to a simple direct cremation service.  Decide if you want a traditional funeral, something more modern like a life celebration service, or if you wish to consider cremation as a more affordable option.

Free direct cremation San Diego

What is the average cost of a funeral service in San Diego?

According to the N.F.D.A (2022), the average cost of a funeral service in the U.S. is $7,848.  This is without any cemetery fees.  The online funeral price survey conducted more recently by Funeralocity puts the average cost of a traditional full-service burial in San Diego at $6,875. (Not including cemetery costs).

How much does a cremation cost in the San Diego Metropolitan area?

It is often more difficult to quote cremation prices as it is dependent on the type of cremation service you opt for, albeit a cremation with a traditional service or a direct cremation without a service.  Cremation is definitely a cheaper alternative to a traditional funeral, but a cremation with a funeral ceremony will still cost around $4,000.

A simple cremation service with no ceremony is referred to as a “direct cremation” in the funeral industry. 

A direct cremation can be arranged for $1,195 with the DFS Memorials provider in San Diego.  This is the most economical funeral service arrangement available to families.

It is necessary to check what is included in a low-cost direct cremation package to ensure there are no hidden fees to what may appear ‘too cheap.’  County fees are generally ‘third-party’ additional charges – such as death certificates and cremation permits.  However, some affordable direct cremation packages may include a death certificate and cremation permit fee.

Extra charges that can be incurred on a budget direct cremation are fees for if a residential collection is required if the deceased weighs over 300 pounds and if a pacemaker needs to be removed prior to cremation.

Cremation laws San Diego

The legal next of kin is responsible for funeral arrangements unless the deceased has already made a funeral plan.  Generally, the funeral director will obtain the death certificate for you and will ask how many copies you require.  The fee for this is charged on top of your funeral service contract, as it is considered a third-party fee, and the funeral home has to pay this out separately. 

The fee for a death certificate in California is $21.00 per copy.

If you choose cremation, the legal next of kin must sign the Declaration for Disposition of Cremated Remains, giving the funeral home the legal right to prepare the cremation.  There is a mandatory wait period of 24 to 48 hours after death before the cremation can take place. However, it is lawful for the County Medical Examiner or the Justice to waive the requirement.

To learn more about cremation services, the cremation process, secure ID tracking, cremation regulations, and laws, visit our Ultimate Guide to Cremation.

Who is responsible for paying for a funeral?

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If the deceased did not pre-arrange and pre-pay for a funeral plan, then the responsibility for paying for a funeral falls to the immediate next of kin.  This can, understandably, be quite a burden for many people, and this is why more seniors today are considering setting up simple cremation arrangements. 

Pre-planning can be a simple and affordable option, giving families peace of mind for when the time comes.  Be aware that whoever signs the funeral contract with the funeral home is legally responsible for paying the funeral bill.

If you are interested in pre-arranging a simple cremation plan, contact your local DFS Memorials location at (619) 268-1962.

Affordable cremation San Diego CA

What happens if the deceased is at the County Medical Examiners?

If the death occurred outside of a medical facility, was an accident, or was unexplained, the body will be transferred to the Medical Examiner’s office.  It is the responsibility of the coroner to determine a cause of death before a death certificate can be issued. 

You will need to arrange for a funeral home to collect your loved one once the coroner releases the body.  Only a licensed funeral director can transport the deceased from the ME’s morgue, and the next of kin will need to sign a release form for the Medical Examiner to release the body into the care of a funeral home.

The Medical Examiner will issue the death certificate and permit to cremate once they release the body.  If you have further questions about identifying the body and making arrangements for the transfer of the deceased, you can contact San Diego County’s Department of the Medical Examiner at (858) 694-2895.

San Diego County’s Medical Examiner is at the Office of the Medical Examiner, 5570 Overland Ave, Suite 101. San Diego, CA 92123.

How do I prepare if my loved one is in hospice care?

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If your loved one is in hospice care, and the support staff has advised you to prepare for his or her passing, it can help to make provisional arrangements.  This means that when the time comes, the hospice can immediately contact the funeral service provider and arrange the transfer of your loved one into their care. 

If you contact a funeral home ahead of time, you can have some of the preparations in place. This can make it easier when the time comes, alleviating some of the stress that comes with having to make arrangements on short notice. This also means the hospice knows who to call, and the authorizations and other legal documentation can be pre-prepared.

What help with funeral expenses is there for low-income or uninsured families?

Sadly, more families are finding themselves in a position of not being able to pay for funeral expenses. Unfortunately, there is very limited public or state assistance for funeral costs. The state takes care of indigent deaths (as is their responsibility), but a pauper burial or cremation does this. Social Security offers a $255 death benefit payment (if qualifying), and the funeral director will assist you with claiming this.

For some further guidance, read our article What do I do if I Can’t Afford a Funeral?

Cremation price San Diego

What can I legally do with the cremated remains?  Laws for Scattering Ashes in California

In California, you may choose any of the following methods of disposition of cremated remains: 

  • Placement in a columbarium
  • Burial in a plot in a cemetery
  • Retention at a residence – The funeral establishment or crematory will have you sign the Permit for Disposition showing that the remains were released to you and will file it with the local registrar of births and deaths. You may not remove the cremated remains from the container, and you must arrange for their disposition upon your death.
  • Storing in a house of worship or religious shrine dependent upon local zoning laws
  • Ash Scattering in areas of the state where no local prohibition exists and with the written permission of the property owner or governing agency. The cremated remains must be removed from the container and scattered in a manner so they are not distinguishable to the public.
  • Ash Scattering in a cemetery scattering garden
  • Ash Scattering at sea, at least 500 yards from shore 

In California, cremated remains cannot be transported without a permit from the county health department, and they may not be disposed of in refuse.

Where to scatter ashes in San Diego CA

I want to pre-plan a simple cremation.  What is the best way to set up a cremation plan in San Diego?

You can make pre-arrangements with a funeral home and/or crematory.  The terms and payment plans may differ depending on your requirements and age. And whether you make payment in full at the time of purchasing your pre-need plan or opt to arrange a payment plan.

More and more cremation providers are offering online arrangement services, so all this can be done from the comfort of your own home.  Pre-planning can provide you with funeral service coverage that will give you and your family peace of mind, reducing the stress associated with making last-minute funeral arrangements after a loved one has passed.

If you do regularly travel for work, pleasure, sport, visiting family, or snow-birding, you may wish to consider our great value Travel Protection Plan. This plan costs just $450 for an individual for lifetime protection against the costly expense of returning a body home if a death occurs 75 miles (or further) from your residence. It also provides global coverage. Domestic funeral shipping can cost from $3,000, and International repatriation can start at around $6,900.

Read more about this affordable peace of mind death expense coverage here: Travel Protection Plan, or click on the link above to enroll today.

The plan costs just $450 for an individual or $875 for a couple and will cover all costs for a cremation at the place of death or returning the deceased home to California.  The cover is worldwide. 

Arranging a green burial in San Diego

In a recent survey, The National Funeral Directors Association discovered that 72% of funeral homes reported an increase in interest in a green burial from families.  At present, families typically have 2 options – traditional burial or cremation.  However, a ‘natural’ green burial is certainly less expensive than a traditional burial and more environmentally friendly than a cremation.

There are a number of funeral homes offering green burial options around San Diego.  Typically, a green funeral will cost between $3,000 and $5,000. 

Visit our Guide to Green Burial in California for more information on burial grounds and green funeral providers.

How do I obtain copies of a death certificate?

Planning a cremation San Diego CA

As mentioned above, the funeral director will generally file for the death certificate for you and will ask how many copies you require.  The fee for a death certificate in California is $21.00 per copy.

You can request additional copies from Vital Records at a later date if you are a relative of the deceased or have a financial concern in their estate.

What about no-cost cremation?

A “no-cost” cremation generally refers to a whole body donation program where the deceased’s remains are cremated free of charge after the donation. The Anatomical Donation Program University of California can help you learn more about what is involved in the process of whole-body donation. 

Is it possible to have a private viewing before a simple cremation?

Yes, you can arrange for a private ‘goodbye’ viewing before a direct cremation. However, this often depends upon the availability of facilities, staff, and scheduling.  Sometimes, it can be arranged at no additional cost, but this can often be dependent on whether there is a need for additional staff, in which case there may be a fee. It is best to consult your chosen funeral service provider for more details regarding private viewing.

Cremation Prices near me

Do I need a casket for a cremation service in San Diego?

No, no requirement (or law) stipulates a casket is needed for a cremation service. A simple cremation is usually conducted using a simple reinforced cardboard container.  However, renting a casket is possible if you wish to have a service before the cremation.  This can also help you save on funeral costs.

I have questions or concerns about arranging a funeral in San Diego.  Where can I find help?

You can contact our DFS Memorials affordable funeral service provider in San Diego with any questions you have.  Suppose you should have reason to be dissatisfied with the services of a licensed funeral home. In that case, you can make a formal complaint to the California Department of Consumer Affairs Cemetery and Funeral Bureau. 1625 North Market Blvd, Suite S208, Sacramento, CA 95834 Phone: (916) 574-7870

Feel free to contact us at US Funerals Online, and we will try and help you if you have further questions about arranging a funeral or cremation service.

Additional Resources:

Guide to Cremation Costs in California

Written by

Sara is the Editor in Chief for US Funerals Online and has been researching and writing about the death care industry in the US for the last 15 years.