Procedure at the Registrar’s office

The relative or person who has been given the medical certificate by the doctor must see the Registrar of Births and Deaths for the district where the death occurred in order that the death may be registered. Since April 1997, the person registering the death does not have to attend the register office in the district where the death occurred. S/he can make a formal declaration giving all the details required in any registration district. This will then be passed on to the registrar for the district where the death occurred who will issue the death certificate and any other documents.

The information required will be – the full names of the deceased person, and any other names that they have been known by, including the maiden surname of a woman who has been married; their date and place of birth; their most recent occupation, and their spouse’s full name and occupation. It will also be necessary to confirm the date and place of death.

This is the essential information which must be included in the death register. Other questions will be asked about date of birth of surviving spouse, and information about the state pensions and allowances that the person was receiving, including war pensions. The National Health Service insurance number will be requested, and the deceased’s medical card should be surrendered to the registrar if it is available. However, if this number is not known and the medical card is not available, there is no need to worry.

Death certificate

Once the death is registered, a white certificate is issued free of charge, containing a social security form to claim any arrears of benefits due to the estate of the deceased person and to ensure that the correct benefits are paid to the widow (if applicable); and a green certificate for burial or cremation. Copies of the death certificate can be purchased. A standard version will be necessary for a grant of probate or letters of administration, there will be a small charge, currently £3.50 per copy. These are documents which are often necessary to obtain access to a deceased person’s assets.

Dealing with someone’s estate and forms may be obtained from your local probate registry (the address of which may be obtained from your public library or telephone directory). Copies ordered at a later date may cost £6.50 depending upon the time lapse between the registration of death and the date of the order.