Parochial Fees (Statutory Fees)
Wedding, funeral and burial fees are set nationally by law. This page looks at how much each parish should charge and how should these fees be managed and applied?
Everyone in our country has the right, subject to qualifying rules, to ask their local Church of England church to conduct their wedding or funeral; this is why there are nationally agreed fees.
Information on this page
- The Legalities
- Retired clergy presiding at normal services of worship
- Useful downloads and forms
- Who owns the fee?
- Funeral Director invoice template
- What extras can be charged?
For guidance on Parochial Fees please contact Gordon Fath by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0151 705 2180.
Parochial (or Statutory) Fees are set annually by our General Synod and the published Table of Fees is available to download from this page.
The Ecclesiastical Fees (Amendment) Measure 2011 introduced a number of important changes that came into force in January 2013 and further changes were introduced from January 2020. The principal changes were as follows:
- The ownership of the Fee: that part which was sometimes previously known as the Clergy/Minister's Fee now belongs to the Diocesan Board of Finance (DBF) and is lawfully payable to the Diocese.
- There is no Parochial Fee due for the funeral of anyone dying before their 18th birthday.
- The law was clarified as to what can be included within the authorised fees and thus what 'allowable extras' a local church is able to make, as an additional charge.
There are two parts to the Parochial Fee:
- that part which is proscribed to the Diocesan Board of Finance
- that part which accrues to the local church, the PCC.
As with other dioceses, the Diocese of Liverpool has its own arrangements for allocating a portion of the DBF Fee to retired and self-supporting clergy, as well as those Readers who may take funerals.
In addition to the Parochial Fee there is also a limited list of allowable extras that the local church may additionally charge (such as for heating or an organist).
Explore this page for practical guidance on these issues, as well as how to manage the DBF element of the fee, how to record Fee income in the church accounts, and the sometimes complex question of which church actually owns the PCC element of the Fee.
Marriage Certificate changes from 2021
New regulations relating to marriages within England came in to force on 4th May 2021. As part of these new regulations, parish clergy can no longer generate or provide marriage certificates. All such certificates, whether for a current service or a previous marriage that took place in your building, must be obtained from your Local Council Registrar's Office. It therefore follows that the £11 fee for the provision of a marriage certificate must not be charged.
Where retired clergy officiate and/or preach at a normal service of worship (Holy Communion, Baptism, or Service of the Word), in a church which is outside of their home parish, they may claim a payment of up to half of the current value of the DBF Fee for a funeral in church plus travel expenses at the current diocesan rate.
Retired clergy service fee = £56
Motor vehicle mileage allowance = 45p per mile
Retired clergy service fee = £62
Motor vehicle mileage allowance = 45p per mile
Legal Office Guidance
All Parochial Fees have two distinct legal elements, the DBF Fee and the PCC Fee. The question is, to whom do these respective fee elements belong?
The DBF fee
This part of the statutory fee belongs to the Diocesan Board of Finance (DBF).
Over the years this element of the fee has had many names (e.g. the minister's fee, the clergy fee, the assigned fee). In the past it was owned by the respective parish's Incumbent but this is no longer the case. Since 1st January 2013 this element of the fee has belonged solely to the DBF. Each parish should submit the DBF fees they receive on a regular basis to the Finance Team at St James' House using the appropriate Fee Submission Form provided in the table above.
Payments can be by cheque or by a direct bank transfer ('Faster Payments' or BACS). For account details please contact the Finance Team.
Retired and Self Supporting Ministers (including Readers)
The law allows our LDBF to give some of its fee to the Anglican minister who takes a particular service, for example a funeral.
The practice within the Diocese of Liverpool is that half of the DBF fee may be given to a retired clergy person, self-supporting minister (SSM), or Reader, who officiates at a funeral or burial, if they wish to receive it. In all cases any such payment is taxable income to the individual and must be declared to HMRC.
Non-stipendiary Anglican clergy or Readers who act as Chaplains may also claim half of the DBF fee in the same manner as other Self-Supporting Ministers.
The PCC fee
The second element of the Parochial or Statutory Fee is that portion that is retained by the PCC to support local ministry.
The question here can often be, 'which PCC owns the parochial PCC fee?' Following an update to the legislation, from 2020 the answer is fairly straight forward, it is the PCC of the church, or churchyard, where the service takes place. Fee allocation is based wholly on where a service takes place, which minister takes the service has no bearing on the decision. In all cases the Minister taking the funeral or burial in a church or churchyard should reclaim the appropriate travel expenses from the PCC who receives the parochial PCC fee payment.
For Direct to Crematorium funerals and funerals held at the premises of a Funeral Director, the General Synod agreed that the PCC fee they introduced in 2013 should be removed from 2020 and the DBF fee increased. In these specific cases, the travel expenses of retired and SSM clergy, along with those of an officiating Reader, are considered to be inclusive within the half DBF fee they may claim.
What fees to charge?
When calculating what fees should be applied, it should be noted that these fees are 'per service' and not 'per person'. For example, the burial of two lots of cremated remains in to the same grave, at the same time, as part of one service, would only attract a single burial fee.
Allowable ‘extras’ are mainly sums that are payable to other people and groups, over which those receiving the ministry have a genuine choice.
Such payments are often passed through the PCC, such as payments for
- Heating: It is permitted to include a reasonable charge for heating the church building.
- Vergers and Organists: It is permitted to charge a reasonable fee for these people's services. As these payments are normally made to individuals, it is important to note that they are taxable. As the legal body responsible for organizing the selection of the Organist or Verger, it is also normally the PCC's responsibility to ensure all taxable income is declared to HMRC.
- Choirs, Bell-ringers & Flower Arrangers: It is permitted for people providing these services for a wedding or funeral to receive a reasonable fee. Where the payment is made to a group account, it is unlikely that any income tax would be due. However, should payment be made to an individual, or individuals, these would be subject to income tax.
- Gravediggers: Many gravedgiggers operate as registered companies and are often booked directly by a Funeral Director. Where a PCC pays an individual church member as a gravedigger, this payment will be taxable income and must be declared to HMRC.
The key words here are 'genuine choice' - a wedding couple or a deceased person's relatives cannot be charged for 'extras' they do not want.
Extras not permitted
A range of 'extras' that churches have historically applied to weddings, funerals and burials that are not allowed are.
- A fee for 'the maintenance fund' whether for maintenance of a building or a graveyard is not allowed - all donations must be voluntary.
- Charging for the 'future development' of a graveyard, or for opening the ground for a 'first grave' is not permitted. The primary living relative of those buried within a graveyard may be asked (annually or otherwise) to donate to the ongoing maintenance of the graveyard, but this must be a totally separate request from any burial fee.
- Additional fees cannot be charged for administration or lighting (electricity) as these are already included within the statutory fee.