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Registering a death

The information in this section is to help you with the arrangements for registering a death. If you require further assistance please feel free to contact us.

When someone dies, the doctor who was treating the deceased will issue a medical certificate of cause of death to the relatives. The person who will be registering the death must take this certificate to the registrar's office.

Occasionally, if the death was sudden or the doctor treating the deceased is unavailable, it may not be possible for a medical certificate of cause of death to be issued. If this happens, the death will have to be reported to the coroner, which may lead to a delay in registering the death.

Every death in England or Wales must be registered in the district in which it takes place within 5 days of the date of death.

Information for the registration is given to the registrar by the person registering the death. This information is usually recorded on computer and also recorded in the death register. The person registering the death signs the record.

If it is inconvenient for the person registering the death to go to the district where it took place, the information for the registration may be given to a registrar in another district. The registrar will record the registration particulars on a form of declaration and send it to the registrar for the district where the death occurred.

The registrar who receives the declaration will enter the information in the death register. Certificates of the death, which may be ordered and paid for at the time of making the declaration, as well as the document allowing the funeral to proceed, will be posted to the person registering the death by the registrar for the district where it took place.

If the declaration procedure is used, it may take a day or two longer for the document allowing the funeral to proceed to be issued. Relatives should discuss the arrangements with their funeral director and the registrar so as to avoid any delay to the funeral.

The registration of a death in Wales may be made bilingually in English and Welsh if the person who registers the death gives the information in Welsh and the registrar is able to understand and write Welsh.

If the registrar cannot understand and write Welsh, the registration may be carried out in a different district where there are welsh-speaking registrars, using the declaration procedure as described above.

A death that took place in England must be registered in English only.

The people who can register a death fall into two slightly different categories depending on whether the death occurred in a house or hospital or elsewhere:

Deaths in a house or hospital:

  • a relative of the deceased
  • someone present at the death
  • the occupier of the house or hospital if he or she knew of the death
  • another person living at the house if he or she knew of the death
  • the person making the arrangements with the funeral directors

Deaths elsewhere:

  • a relative of the deceased
  • someone present at the death
  • someone who found the body
  • a person in charge of the body
  • the person making the arrangements with the funeral directors

The majority of deaths are registered by a relative of the deceased. The registrar would normally allow one of the other listed persons to register the death only if there were no relatives available.

There are some circumstances in which a death must be reported to the Coroner before it can be registered and before the document allowing the funeral to go ahead can be issued.

The following are the deaths that, if not already reported to the coroner by someone else, will be reported by the registrar:

  • where there is no doctor who can issue a medical certificate of cause of death, or
  • where the deceased was not seen by the doctor issuing the medical
  • certificate after death nor within 14 days before death, or
  • where the cause of death is unknown, or
  • where the cause of death is believed to be unnatural or suspicious, or
  • where the death occurred during an operation or before recovery from an anaesthetic, 
  • where the death is due to industrial disease or industrial poisoning

Once a death has been reported to the coroner, the registrar cannot go ahead with the registration until the coroner has decided whether any further investigation into the death is necessary.

In the vast majority of cases no further investigation is necessary and the registration can be completed straightaway.

You must provide the following information to the registrar when registering a death.

  • Date and place of death
  • Name and surname of the deceased
  • Maiden surname, if the deceased was a woman who had married
  • Date and place of birth
  • Occupation
  • Name and occupation of husband, where the deceased was a married woman or widow
  • Usual address
  • Whether the deceased was in receipt of a pension or allowance from public funds
  • if the deceased was married, the date of birth of the surviving widow or widower

The deceased's medical card, if available, should also be given to the registrar.

It is most important that the information recorded in the death register is correct. If any mistake is made, for example in the spelling of a name or surname or in the description of the occupation, it will give the relative or other person who registered the death some trouble to have it put right.

The person registering the death should check the information in the register very carefully before the entry is signed.

If you would like to take advantage of the ‘Tell Us Once’ service, which allows the informant to notify several organisations at once of a death, it is necessary where appropriate to also provide the following documents.

  • National Insurance Number ( can be found on any state pension or benefits document issued by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs)
  • Valid UK Driving Licence
  • Valid UK Passport
  • Valid Blue Badge

This is an optional service that includes government and local authority departments such as Her Majesty’s Passport Service, DVLA (Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency), HMRC, Council Tax, Electoral Registers, Libraries, Social Services etc.

You can obtain further information about correcting particulars in a death registration by contacting any of our offices.

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Page updated on: 18/04/2017

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