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Registration

When someone dies one of the prioritys is for the registration to take place, in the case of a death from natural causes the informant or person taking responsibility for the funeral will need to collect the Medical Cause of Death Certificate which the Dr or GP who attended the deceased will issue. In turn this needs to be taken to the registrars once you have made an appointment and then the death officially registered. If the case is referred to the Coroner you will be informed once the examination is complete when you will be able to register. In both cases the Registrar will then be able to issue the Death Certificate, this is a certified copy of the death entry in the register and proves that the death has been registered.

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Registering a Death and Informing Others

When someone dies there are also many people to be informed, including several companies and organisations. Whilst it may seem daunting, letting people know can avoid any distress caused by them contacting you unexpectedly if they are not aware.

In addition, one of the first things that needs to happen is the death must be registered. While the exact process will depend on the location and nature of the death, registration normally needs to occur within 5 days of the death. 

You may find it helpful to make a list of all the other people who will need to be informed by telephone or letter. You can work through this gradually over the coming days and weeks and ask other people to help. This section of the website can help you decide what you need to do and in what order, as some organisations will need to be informed more urgently than others. Not all of the tasks will need to be done in every case, but you may find this section useful so you can see which apply to you.

The pages below will guide you through the process of registration, as well as how to inform companies and organisations, reduce unwanted mail and what to do with the deceased's personal possessions or care at home equipment.

 

When and Where to Register a Death

One of the first things that needs to happen when someone has died is for the death to be registered. This process will depend on the location and nature of the death. The death must be registered by the registrar:

  • Within 5 days in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

  • Within 8 days in Scotland

In England and Wales, it is possible to delay registration for a further 9 days provided that the registrar receives written confirmation that the medical cause of death certificate has been signed by a doctor.

Delays due to the involvement of the coroner or procurator fiscal are not usually  counted within these time frames.

The registration should be made in the district in which the death occurred in England unless the death has occurred in a county that has adopted a county-wide system. 

If you are completely unable to attend a registrar in the district (or county) in England in which the death occurred you can attend elsewhere and carry out a declaration of the death. You should be aware that issue of the Death Certificate will be delayed as documents must be sent between the registrars in the post. 

Most registrars operate appointment systems. Some operate an emergency out of office hours service for families needing urgent burial for any reason. Telephone your main council switchboard to find out if there is an out of hours service. Many registrars now also offer an on-line booking system - search under Deaths on your local council website.

In general, registration of the death should be carried out before the funeral can go ahead. Exceptions are deaths subject to investigation by the coroner. Permission for burial may also be issued before full registration in certain circumstances but this is not possible if cremation is planned.

 

The person who registers the death is formally known as the 'the informant'. Only relatives or certain other individuals are qualified by law to register a death. This will also depend on where the death occurred.

When you telephone to make the appointment to register the death, give the name and relationship of the person who will be attending to do the registration to check that they are best person available to do this. It is preferable if the person who is at the top of these lists can do the registration. It can be someone further down the list if someone above cannot carry out the registration for reasons of disability or ill health, they are out of the country or other resons such as being in custody. 

If the death occurred inside a house or public building such as a hospital, the following people may register the death:

  • A relative

  • Someone who was present at the death

  • The occupier of the house or an official from the public building where the death occurres, e.g. the hospital

  • The person making the arrangements with the funeral director

Who Can Register a Death?

 

You must take with you:

  • The medical certificate of cause of death (unless the coroner or procurator fiscal has issued their document directly to the registrar)

If possible, you should also take the following documents. They are not absolutely essential but provide much of the additional information you need for the registration, but do not delay registering just because you cannot find this paperwork.

  • NHS card (also called the medical card)

  • Birth certificate

  • Driving licence

  • Council tax bill

  • Marriage or civil partnership certificate (if applicable)

  • If possible please take the National Insurance number of the deceased and the number of a surviving spouse or civil partner.

  • Passport

  • Proof of address (e.g. utility bill)

When you see the registrar, they will be as helpful as they can in registering the death. They will require the following information about the deceased:

  • Date and place of the death

  • The address of the person

  • Their full names (including the maiden name of a married woman). Any former married names or other names by which the deceased was known can also be recorded.

  • Where and when they were born (the town or county is sufficient if the exact address is not known). Only the country of origin is required for people born outside the United Kingdom. The country is recorded according to its current name if this is different from how it was known at the date of birth.

  • Their occupation

  • Details of their wife or husband or civil partner

  • Whether they had any government pension or other benefits

While it is not essential, you should also take supporting documents that show your name and address (e.g. a utility bill) but you can still register a death without them.

The registration process will take approximately 30 minutes. 

What You Need to Register a Death

What the Registrar Will Give You

When the registrar has all the information that they need and this has been entered in the register, they will give you a:

Death Certificate

This is a certified copy of the death entry in the register and proves that the death has been registered. These have to be purchased. 

It is important to ask for additional copies of the death certificate if it is possible that the person's estate will have to go through probate. Even if you do not need probate you will need to have a copy of the death certificate for each asset holder, e.g. for each bank or building society where there are accounts, each pension or insurance policy. Without a sufficient number of death certificates, sorting out the estate takes longer and extra certificates are more expensive to purchase at a later stage.

The cost of certified copies of the death certificate at the time of registering the death vary from one country to another. The cost per copy is: £11.00 in England and Wales, £8.00 in Northern Ireland and £10.00 in Scotland.

Photocopies of the certificate are not normally accepted for legal, financial and insurance companies and are a breach of copyright.

Certificate for Burial or Cremation (GR021 in N.Ireland)

This is often called the 'green form'. The registrar will issue a certificate for the burial or cremation of the body, which is normally passed to the funeral director by the person making the arrangements. The funeral cannot happen until this certificate is given to the burial authority or the crematorium. This will not be issued in certain circumstances when the coroner has been involved. This form is free.

Certificate for Department of Work & Pensions benefits (BD8 form Registration or Notification of Death in England & Form 3344SI in Scotland, form 36/BD8 in N.Ireland)

A certificate to send to the Department of Work & Pensions. Some register offices also issue an envelope with this form but it can also be returned to the office from which any pension or benefit has been issued or to a local Jobcentre Plus office.

If the person who has died was a pensioner, the death can be notified to the Pensions Service with a telephone call. Depending on the relationship of the person making the call it may not be necessary for the BD8 to be posted.

Details of the death are given on one side and on the reverse side is a form to be completed with further details of the person who has died and the person dealing with the estate.

This form is also free.