Urn Vaults Explained: Purpose, Cost & If You Need One

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Over the past several years, cremation has continued to grow in popularity. As of 2017, the rate of cremation has surpassed the burial rate in the United States. The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) projects that over 75 percent of Americans will be opting for cremation by the year 2035. 

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Even with cremation’s rapid rise in popularity, people still don’t understand all of the details surrounding the process. You might be familiar with things like picking out urns for ashes, but you might be less familiar with the interment of ashes. Here, we explore one facet of that as we delve into the world of urn vaults.

What’s an Urn Vault?

If you’ve ever planned a traditional funeral, you might be familiar with the concept of a burial vault. If not, then you should know that a burial vault is a lined, sealed container that protects the casket when it is buried. Quite literally, it is an added layer of protection. 

There are many different types of burial vaults, and an urn vault is one of them. Much like caskets, urns aren’t usually fully sealed. There is a chance that it can be exposed to the elements, and dirt or water could get inside while it remains buried underground.

If you decide to bury the ashes of a loved one in an urn, you might inter them in an urn vault. An urn vault is simply a lined outer vessel that can be sealed with an urn inside of it. Then the vault will be placed in the ground, providing a level of protection for the ashes within the urn.  

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How Much Do Urn Vaults Cost?

Burial vaults can be quite expensive. They cost around $900 at a minimum and can cost as much as $13,000 depending on the building materials. The cost often comes from the size and sheer heaviness of the burial containers.

The weight can also add high shipping costs. Because urn vaults are much smaller than burial vaults for caskets, the cost is a lot less. A basic urn vault can cost less than $200. Heavier or more ornate urn vaults might cost as much as $400 or more. 

Who Usually Needs an Urn Vault?

While most states don’t legally require urn vaults and burial vaults, many cemeteries require them. Burial vaults and urn vaults don’t just protect remains.

They also keep the grounds of a cemetery from sinking in or becoming unstable. A casket or an urn will break down and degrade over time. That will cause the earth on the grave to settle and start to cave in. Burial vaults and urn vaults help the ground keep its shape.   

What Sizes Do Urn Vaults Come In?

Urn vaults come in a variety of sizes. We’ve looked at some of the most popular models online, and made a list of some of their sizes below:

  • 15 inches by 15 inches by 18 inches
  • 14.5 inches by 9 inches by 9 inches
  • 18.5 inches by 18.5 inches by 18.625 inches
  • 14.5 inches by 17.5 inches by 13.5 inches
  • 15 inches by 15 inches by 14 inches

As you can see, there is a vast assortment of sizes urn vaults can come in, but they are essentially all in the same ballpark. 

Where Can You Purchase an Urn Vault?

When it comes to shopping for an urn vault, you may not know where to begin. Believe it or not, you can actually get them at some major retailers.

Perhaps that’s not that surprising — after all, you can buy burial urns through retailers like Amazon and Walmart. And if you're looking for something very unique (think a game, their motorcycle, or instrument of choice), you can custom order an urn from a store like Foreverence. Here are some places where you can look for urn vaults:

Funeral home

If you have your loved one cremated at a funeral home, they can also help you arrange for a burial. If you are burying your ashes, you can work directly with the funeral home to get an urn vault, burial plot, headstone, and anything else you might need.

Funeral homes can often liaise with cemeteries on your behalf and help you get set up. 

Online retailers

There are a whole plethora of online retailers who sell burial supplies.

This even includes urn vaults. Just get online and look for urn vaults that meet your needs and follow your aesthetic preferences. Don’t forget to read reviews whenever possible. 

Demystifying Urn Vaults

If you, like many other Americans, are considering cremation then it’s important to do research. If you want to have your ashes buried in a cemetery or family plot, you’ll need more than just the cremation urn.

An urn vault can protect an urn from getting dirt, water, or oxygen inside of it. It can also reinforce the structural integrity of the grave. Even though not everyone knows about urn vaults, they are considered to be undeniably important to the burial process. 

If you're looking for more resources on buying urns, read our guides on unique urns and biodegradable urns for water burials. You can also consider using some of the ashes to have a memorial diamond created from ashes. Some companies, like Eterneva, create lab-grown diamonds and allow you to pick from several cuts and colors for your gemstone.


  1. “Cremation on the Rise: NFDA Predicts the National Cremation Rate Will Climb by a Third Within 20 Years.” Nfda.org, National Funeral Directors Association, 12 July 2018, nfda.org/news/media-center/nfda-news-releases/id/3526/cremation-on-the-rise-nfda-predicts-the-national-cremation-rate-will-climb-by-a-third-within-20-years.  

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