When someone dies, the doctor who was treating the deceased gives the relatives a medical certificate stating the cause of death.
The person who will be registering the death must take this certificate to the registration office within five days of the date of death. The details are recorded in the death register and the person registering the death signs the record.
If the death occurred overseas the process of registration is different. Full details are available on Gov.uk – Death abroad.
Who can register a death?
Usually a relative of the deceased registers the death, but other people who can do it include:
- someone present at the death
- the owner or manager of the residential home where the death occurred
- the person responsible for organising the funeral.
Where should you register the death?
Deaths should be registered at a registration office in the district where the person died.
If it is inconvenient for you to go to a registration office in the district where the person died, you can visit a registrar in another district. The registrar will then complete a form of declaration which is sent to the registration office in the district where the death occurred.
The registrar in the district where the death occurred will post the certificates direct to your home address. This procedure can delay funerals by a day or two.
What information is required when you register a death?
To register a death you must provide the following information about the deceased:
- place and date of death
- full name, including maiden name if relevant
- date and place of birth
- their home address
- if the person was married or contracted a civil partnership, the full name, date of birth and occupation of their spouse or partner
- whether the deceased was receiving a pension or allowance from public funds.
If you have received a cause of death certificate from a doctor, this should be given to the registrar when you register the death.
What happens next?
After registering the death you will be issued with:
- a green certificate for burial or cremation – the funeral director will need this before the funeral can take place
- a white certificate of registration of death (BD8) to pass to the Pensions Service, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Further instructions are on the certificate.
- Certified copies of the death certificate – usually needed for insurance or probate services. A fee of £4 is charged for each certificate.
When a medical certificate cannot be issued
Sometimes it is not possible for a medical certificate of the cause of death to be issued, for example if the death was sudden or the doctor is unavailable. When this happens, the death has to be reported to the coroner.
The coroner is responsible for investigating sudden or suspicious deaths, and establishing the causes of such deaths. Further information is available here about what happens when the coroner is involved.