There is no legal requirement to use undertakers or other funeral event organisers to transport the body of someone who has died.
The body can be transported in a car or van and if using a coffin the vehicle would need to suitably accommodate a coffin. There is no such thing as a “special licence” for this purpose.
This is made clear in Part (1)(5) of Schedule 3 of the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Regulations 1995, which refers to ‘CLASSES OF VEHICLES FOR WHICH A LICENCE IS NOT REQUIRED ‘. Para (5) of that Schedule states “a vehicle which is being used for funerals”.
Although some publications mention that bodies can be transported by rail (e.g. Which? 1991:87; 1994:109) this service has now been withdrawn (BR 1993 pers. comm. with Bradfield. J) Since privatisation the practical difficulties of communicating with more than one Railway Company, makes moving bodies by train virtually impossible. English, Welsh & Scottish Railways Ltd. (said to Bradfield. J in an email 02.09.06 followed by telephone discussion) all movement of goods is now on a large scale, using large containers, so there is no company which could now help with one-off ‘small’ items.
Hospital and hospice staff have, frequently asserted that county boundary fees have to be paid when crossing boundaries with bodies. There are no such fees. In recent times, some have insisted that undertakers have listed county boundary fees in their bills, but no evidence has ever been produced!
There is a duty to inform the Coroner before moving a body out of England & Wales (treated as one area).
Carrying a body over private land does not create a public footpath. Undertakers once stuck pins in gates as token “toll” payments for walking over private land, meaning that they realised no public footpath or right of way was being created.
It is a myth to believe there can be no trespass when carrying a body over private land.
It is illegal for priests to charge extra for a funeral for someone brought into their parish.
Much of the information on this page was obtained from the Alice Barker Trust (01423 530900 & 868121) a charity which specialises on funeral and related laws. Any errors are my own and not those of the Trust.