Talk to us

0800 456 1047

Find a funeral director

In this guide we will cover:

What is a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death? 

A Medical Certificate of Death includes the name of the deceased, their age, the place of death and the cause of death. If the cause of death is clear, a certificate will be issued straight away. If further investigation is required it will be issued once this has been completed.

The Certificate is written by a doctor and will be given to you in a sealed envelope. You will usually be shown or told what is determined as the cause of death, so if you don’t understand the medical language of the diagnosis, please don’t hesitate in asking the doctor any questions.

Depending on where your loved one died, the process of getting a Certificate can differ. If you need any further advice, please contact our caring funeral professionals who will talk you through the process, step-by-step.


What to do if someone dies in hospital

If someone dies in hospital, the staff will issue the Medical Certificate and formal notice, and provide information about how to register the death.

The deceased will usually be kept in the hospital mortuary until your chosen funeral director arranges for them to be taken into their care.


What to do if someone dies at home

If someone dies at home, please call their GP as soon as possible. They will then be able to visit, examine the deceased and confirm the death. Only then will they be able to issue the Medical Certificate and formal notice, offering you advice on the next steps.


What to do if someone dies in a public place

When someone dies in a public place, the emergency services are usually called. If the death appears to be natural, medical staff other than doctors can confirm that someone is deceased, as a doctor may not be around to issue the Certificate. This is known as verification of death; a temporary measure until a GP can issue the Certificate.


What to do if someone dies abroad

If someone dies abroad, you will need to register the death according to the regulations of the country in which your loved one has passed and get a consulate death certificate. You will also need to register the death in the UK.

Should a loved one sadly pass away abroad, please contact us for support and advice on how to bring them back to the UK. We offer repatriation services to and from anywhere in the world.  


What to do when a Certificate cannot be issued 

A Medical Certificate may not be issued straight away if the death is sudden or the cause of death is unknown. Unexpected deaths will need to be reported to a coroner, who may decide that a post-mortem is required to determine the cause of death. Unfortunately, if this is the case, it may delay any funeral preparations.


What additional forms are required?

If you are planning to cremate your loved one rather than burying them, please make their GP aware of this as soon as possible. You will need to be prepared to fill in additional forms and receive a phone call from another doctor. Should you opt for cremation, please contact our professional Funeral Directors for further information and assistance.


What happens next?

Once you have got a Medical Certificate, the next stage depends on whether you have chosen a Funeral Director or if you have decided to handle all of the arrangements yourself.

If you choose a Funeral Director, please contact them once you are ready to do so and they will arrange for your loved one to be collected and brought into their care.



Registering a death