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How To Start A Funeral Parlour In South Africa?

Quick Summary

Starting a funeral parlour in South Africa requires registering with the necessary authorities, obtaining a Certificate of Competence, and understanding funeral insurance. It is important to research the market, write a comprehensive business plan, and consider the capital investment required for services and equipment. Franchise options are also available for those without prior experience in the funeral industry.


Starting a funeral parlour business in South Africa requires careful planning and adherence to specific regulations. It is a sensitive and essential service that provides support to grieving families during their time of loss. This article will guide you through the necessary steps and considerations to start a funeral parlour in South Africa.

Registering and Licensing Requirements

Starting a funeral parlour business in South Africa requires following certain registering and licensing procedures. These include:

  • Registering with the South African Revenue Services
  • Registering for Employees tax (PAYE)
  • Registering for Value-Added Tax (VAT)
  • Registering for Unemployment insurance fund (UIF)
  • Applying for a Certificate of Competence
  • Publishing notices in newspapers
  • Providing a description and ground plan of the premises
  • Providing information about personnel handling corpses

Understanding Funeral Insurance

When starting a funeral parlour in South Africa, it is important to have a good understanding of funeral insurance. Funeral insurance provides financial coverage for funeral expenses, ensuring that families can give their loved ones a dignified farewell without worrying about the financial burden.

Dealing with Various Insurance Providers

As a funeral home owner, you will need to establish relationships with various insurance providers. These providers offer funeral insurance policies that can be tailored to meet the specific needs of your clients. It is important to research and compare different insurance providers to find the best options for your funeral parlour.

When dealing with insurance providers, you should consider factors such as the coverage offered, premium rates, claim processes, and customer service. Building strong relationships with reputable insurance providers will not only benefit your clients but also contribute to the success and credibility of your funeral parlour.

Understanding Funeral Insurance Cover

Funeral insurance cover typically includes a range of services and expenses related to a funeral. These may include:

  • Funeral director fees
  • Coffin or casket costs
  • Transportation of the deceased
  • Embalming and preparation of the body
  • Viewing and visitation arrangements
  • Funeral service arrangements
  • Grave or cremation costs
  • Floral arrangements
  • Obituary notices
  • Memorial programs
  • Assistance with paperwork and documentation

It is important to have a clear understanding of what is covered by funeral insurance policies to effectively communicate this information to your clients. This will help them make informed decisions and ensure that their expectations are met when planning a funeral.

Exploring Different Insurance Options for Clients

As a funeral parlour owner, you can provide guidance and assistance to your clients in selecting the right funeral insurance options. This may involve offering information about different policies, explaining the coverage and benefits, and helping clients choose the most suitable insurance provider for their needs.

By offering a range of insurance options, you can cater to the diverse needs and preferences of your clients. This will not only enhance the services you provide but also contribute to the overall satisfaction of your clients.

Services and Capital Investment

Starting a funeral parlour in South Africa requires careful consideration of the services you plan to offer and the capital investment needed. Here are some key factors to consider:

Determining the services to offer

Before starting your funeral parlour, it is important to determine the range of services you plan to offer. This may include viewings, professional charges, transportation expenses, cremation, graveside funerals, obituary announcements, online memorial programs, and assistance with mandatory paperwork. Understanding the needs and preferences of your target market will help you tailor your services accordingly.

Estimating capital required for the funeral parlour

The amount of capital required to establish a funeral parlour can vary depending on the services you intend to offer and the scale of your operations. It is essential to conduct a thorough financial analysis to estimate the initial investment needed for premises, equipment, staff, marketing, and other operational expenses. This will help you determine the viability of your business and secure the necessary funding.

Factors influencing capital investment

Several factors can influence the capital investment required for your funeral parlour:

  • Location: The cost of premises and property in different areas can vary significantly. Consider the location’s accessibility, proximity to cemeteries, and potential competition when estimating your capital investment.
  • Size and scale of operations: The size of your funeral parlour and the scale of services you plan to offer will impact your capital requirements. Larger facilities and a wider range of services may require a higher initial investment.
  • Equipment and facilities: The cost of essential equipment, such as embalming facilities, hearses, chapel furnishings, and cremation units, should be factored into your capital investment. Researching suppliers and obtaining quotes will help you estimate these costs accurately.
  • Staffing and training: Consider the costs associated with hiring and training staff, including funeral directors, embalmers, drivers, and administrative personnel. Providing ongoing training and professional development opportunities may also be necessary.

Researching the market and competition

Before launching your funeral parlour, it is crucial to conduct thorough market research. This involves understanding the local demand for funeral services, identifying your target market, and analyzing the competition. Researching the pricing, services, and customer satisfaction levels of existing funeral parlours in your area will help you position your business effectively and identify any gaps in the market that you can capitalize on.

Writing a comprehensive business plan

A well-written business plan is essential for starting a funeral parlour in South Africa. It serves as a roadmap for your business and helps you secure funding from investors or financial institutions. Your business plan should include an executive summary, market analysis, competitive analysis, marketing and sales strategies, financial projections, and an operational plan. It should also outline your unique selling proposition and how you plan to differentiate your funeral parlour from competitors.

Equipment and Facilities

Starting a funeral parlour in South Africa requires careful consideration of the necessary equipment and facilities. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

Identifying necessary equipment for the funeral parlour

Before opening a funeral parlour, it is important to identify the equipment needed to provide the desired services. This may include items such as embalming tables, refrigeration units, caskets, hearses, chapel seating, audiovisual equipment, and office supplies.

Understanding the cost of equipment

The cost of equipment can vary depending on the quality, brand, and specific requirements of the funeral parlour. It is essential to research suppliers and compare prices to ensure you are getting the best value for your investment. Additionally, consider the ongoing maintenance and replacement costs associated with the equipment.

Importing cremation units

If you plan to offer cremation services, you may need to import cremation units. These units are specialized equipment used for the cremation process. It is important to research reputable suppliers and comply with all import regulations and requirements.

Setting up a fully functional crematorium

If you decide to include a crematorium in your funeral parlour, there are additional considerations. Setting up a fully functional crematorium can be a complex process that involves construction, ventilation systems, and compliance with health and safety regulations. It is crucial to work closely with architects, contractors, and relevant authorities to ensure all requirements are met.

Obtaining permits and permissions from local authorities

Before operating a funeral parlour, you must obtain the necessary permits and permissions from local authorities. This includes licenses for the funeral parlour itself, as well as any additional licenses required for specific services such as cremation. It is important to familiarize yourself with the regulations and requirements of your specific location and engage with the appropriate authorities to ensure compliance.

Franchise Options

Starting a funeral parlour business from scratch can be a daunting task, especially if you have no prior experience in the funeral industry. However, one option to consider is purchasing a franchise from an existing brand. This can provide several benefits and make the process of starting your funeral parlour much smoother.

Exploring franchise opportunities in the funeral industry

There are several well-established funeral parlour franchises in South Africa that offer turnkey business solutions. These franchises have already established their brand presence and have a proven track record in the industry. Researching and exploring these franchise opportunities can give you a head start in your business journey.

Benefits of purchasing a franchise

Purchasing a franchise comes with several benefits. Firstly, you will be leveraging an established brand name and reputation, which can help attract customers and build trust. Additionally, franchises often provide ongoing support and training, helping you navigate the complexities of the funeral industry. This support can include assistance with administrative tasks, marketing strategies, and operational guidance.

Turnkey funeral parlour businesses

Franchises like Doves and Martin’s Funerals offer turnkey funeral parlour businesses, meaning they provide a complete package to get your business up and running. This includes assistance with setting up the premises, acquiring necessary equipment, and establishing operational procedures. By opting for a turnkey solution, you can save time and effort in the initial setup phase.

Assistance with administrative tasks, training, and support

One of the advantages of purchasing a franchise is the support you receive in various aspects of running the business. Franchisors often provide training programs to ensure you have the necessary skills and knowledge to operate a funeral parlour successfully. They may also offer assistance with administrative tasks, such as bookkeeping, record-keeping, and compliance with regulations.

Initial franchise fees and setup costs for popular franchises

When considering a franchise, it’s essential to understand the financial aspects involved. Each franchise will have its own initial franchise fee, which is the cost of acquiring the rights to operate under their brand. Additionally, there will be setup costs associated with establishing the funeral parlour premises, purchasing equipment, and obtaining necessary licenses and permits. For example, Martin’s Funerals has an initial franchise fee of just over R100,000, with additional setup costs of at least R527,000. Doves charges an initial franchise fee of R150,000, with an investment of between R950,000 and R2.9 million for site-related expenses.


  1. http://www.funeralparlourssa.co.za/funeral_parlour/StartingAFuneralParlour.php
  2. https://www.news24.com/news24/bi-archive/funerals-funeral-parlours-death-mortality-rate-graves-2019-5
  3. https://bizbolts.co.za/starting-a-funeral-parlour-business-plan-pdf-south-africa/

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