Cremation Costs in California 2024

Are you researching cremation costs in California? Or need to find the best cremation price due to managing a funeral budget? Read on to learn more about funeral costs.  How a direct cremation service can save you thousands of dollars in funeral expenses and give you more control over arranging a simple, inexpensive disposition.  We include below a breakdown of affordable direct cremation prices by city in California.

Cheap cremation in California

Click Here to Jump to a Table of Affordable direct cremation prices by city.

But first, let’s review what average funeral and cremation costs are and what you should know about associated costs and laws when opting for a cremation service.

What is the average cost of a cremation funeral in California today?

More people are turning to the internet to compare services and products online before buying, so why should it be any different for funerals or cremations?

Traditional full-service funerals are a large expense for anyone, and with more Americans living paycheck to paycheck, this is the case more than ever before.

According to Funeralocity (2023), a Full-Service Cremation Funeral costs an average of $5,414 in California, and this does not include cremation niche, interment, or scattering fees.

Read on to learn more about cremation costs, cremation laws and how they affect cremation arrangements, how to set up a simple, low-cost cremation plan, and check out our direct cremation price comparison by cities in California below.

Locate cremation provider in California

As mentioned above, not many families can afford the expense of a traditional funeral, especially if it is one they are not prepared for. This is a key reason for direct cremation is growing popularity in the U.S. in recent years, as more people seek affordable end-of-life alternatives to a traditional funeral service.

When you consider that a direct cremation can be arranged for under $1,000 in some cities in California, it is no surprise that more and more Californians are turning to cremation.

What is the average cost of cremation in California today?

So, we’ve already established that a direct cremation can be arranged for under $1,000 in some areas, but what is the average cost of a cremation in California? This all depends on the type of cremation service you opt for, as a cremation with a memorial service will still cost upwards of $2,300. However, you could pay more for a more elaborate service or less for direct cremation.

Opting for cremation also means you can eliminate some of the more costly items such as a casket, embalming, a grave liner, and a cemetery plot – this can save you a lot on the full cost of a funeral with burial.

Compare cremation costs California

What is the least expensive cremation service?

Direct cremation is your least expensive cremation option. This is when a cremation is simply carried out without a service or ceremony. It is a simple, dignified cremation of the deceased with minimal ‘fuss’ and at a minimal cost.

The cremated remains are returned to the next of kin after everything has been taken care of.  A family can hold a memorial service if they wish when they are ready, and this can even be conducted at home for much less.

Direct cremation cost comparison in the top 10 cities in California

To help give you a better understanding of how cremation costs can vary considerably, we have put together the following table of cremation costs for the major cities in California. It provides a breakdown of the average direct cremation cost, as well as a low-cost direct cremation.

CityAverage direct cremation cost*Low-cost direct cremationImmediate help
Los Angeles$1,655$925(323) 798-9055
San Diego$1,374$1,195(619) 268-1962
San Jose$1,907$1,195(408) 214-9896
San Francisco$1,998$1,195(415) 286-9121
Fresno$1,506$1,195(559) 241-8161
Sacramento$1,613$1,195(916) 229-6141
Long Beach$1,655$925(323) 798-9055
Oakland$1,900$1,195(510) 210-0755
Bakersfield$1,558$1,195(661) 206-2123
Anaheim$1,581$925(949) 220-2557

Are there any extra fees added to a low-cost cremation service package?

The service charge for a direct cremation is listed on the funeral provider’s General Price List. This should include the basic services of the funeral director, collection and transfer of the deceased, completing the legal paperwork, and conducting the cremation.  It usually includes a simple cardboard cremation container and a temporary urn.

The funeral director will pay third-party fees to the local county to obtain the death certificate and pay for any permit charges.  These are third-party fees that are added to the direct cremation service fee.

Most economic cremation in California

The fee for a death certificate in California is currently $14.00. You may require more than one death certificate, as you will need to send them off to more than one institution, organization, or government office at the same time.

Most authority bodies that need evidence of the death, i.e., a life insurance company, will require an original copy of a death certificate. Certified copies of a death certificate are usually available within ten days after the death. 

Other possible additional charges would be:

  • Residential collection
  • Removal of a pace-maker
  • Overweight surcharge (above 250 pounds)
  • Family arrangement consultation
  • Mailing of cremated remains

What California funeral legislation governs cremation arrangements & the Cremation Process?

Cremation laws California

In California, no casket is required by law for cremation, but a suitable rigid cremation container is required. This can be a simple cardboard container. Some funeral homes offer rental caskets if a service is to be held before the cremation.

The next of kin must sign the Declaration for Disposition of Cremated Remains, and a funeral home will usually arrange this as part of their services.

Most states have a mandatory wait time (24-48 hours) after death before a cremation can proceed. However, the County Medical Examiner or a Justice of the Peace can waive this requirement.

What about a “no-cost” cremation in California?

Free cremation in California with a whole body donation

What is sometimes referred to as a “free” cremation or “no-cost” cremation is actually a whole-body donation.  Once the donation is performed, the remains are cremated free of charge.  However, in some cases, there are costs associated with transporting the deceased and obtaining death certificates.  

Visit our Body Donation page to read further about this option. 

The deceased had no life insurance, and I can’t afford a funeral. What help is there with cremation costs?

Sadly, more families are finding themselves in such a position. The reality is that 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’?

What happens if I cannot pay for a funeral?

Help with cremation cost in California

The responsibility to pay the funeral bill falls to the immediate next of kin if the deceased had no pre-paid funeral plan or life insurance.  This can be very stressful if you lose a family member and become responsible for the funeral arrangements without any resources. 

This resource on What to do if you cannot afford a funeral might help.

How much does a cremation cost if the deceased is at the Medical Examiner’s morgue?

If the deceased is at the coroner’s office, you will need to make arrangements with a funeral service provider to collect the body when the coroner signs the release form.  You will need to give authorization to the funeral director to collect your loved one and transfer him or her into their care.

As most funeral directors deal with the coroner’s office on a regular basis, and the ME issues the authorization and permit to cremate, it can make the arrangements easier.  For this reason, some funeral homes can offer a budget direct cremation when handling remains from the Medical Examiner.

* Average direct cremation prices data gathered from Funeralocity 2023  Low-cost direct cremation prices were obtained from DFS Memorials providers 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.