Registering a death

A person’s death usually needs to be registered within five days, this can be an especially difficult task during the mourning period. The following articles will help ease the process by providing you with a step-by-step overview.

Who can register a death

If the person died in a house or hospital, the death can be registered by the following people:
A relative
Someone present at death
An occupant of the house
A hospital official
The person making funeral arrangements

For deaths that occurred anywhere else:
A relative
Someone present at death
The person who found the body
The person in charge of the body
The person making funeral arrangements

The registrar will normally only allow relatives to register the death, but other people can be used in case no relatives are available.

When and where to register the death

In England and Wales, you should normally register the death within five days. If you go to the register office local to the area where the person died, they will provide you with all the required paperwork to complete registration. This has to be done in order to receive all the correct documents and avoid delaying the funeral.

It usually takes half an hour to register the death, but make sure to book an appointment before coming to the register office. You will find your local registry office in the phone directory.

Required documents and information

The following documents are required when registering a death:

A medical certificate of the cause of death (signed by a doctor)
Birth certificate (if available)
Marriage or civil partnership certificate (if available)
NHS medical card (if available)

The register will also need to know the following information:

The person’s full name at time of death
Any previous names, including maiden name
The person’s date and place of birth
Their last address
Their occupation
If they were on state pension or benefit

Documents and assistance you will receive

If there is no post-mortem to be carried out, the registrar will provide you with:

A certificate for burial or cremation (Green form), giving permission to bury or apply for cremation.

A certificate for registration of death (Form BD8), issued for social security purposes if the person was on state pension or benefits

You can buy one or more copies of the death certificate, which you will later need to give to the executor or administrator when sorting out the deceased’s affairs.

The registrar will provide you with a booklet called ‘What to do after a death’, containing useful advice on wills, funerals and financial help.

A number of different government departments and agencies may need to be notified about the death. The registrar can advise you on how to go about this. Some local authorities have started offering a new service to help you report a death, and the registrar will let you know if it’s available in your area.

If a post-mortem is needed, the coroner will issue any documents you need as quickly as possible afterwards.

If there is an error in a death record, details can be changed or added. Ideally the person who registered the death should arrange this with the office where the death was registered. You may be asked for evidence to prove an error was made.

If a coroner’s referral is required

In a case where the cause of death is sudden, suspicious or unclear – the doctor, hospital or registrar will report the death to a coroner. It is up to the coroner to decide whether the case needs further investigation. The registrar cannot proceed with registering the death until the coroner makes a decision.