How to register a death and get a Death Certificate
When someone dies, you will need to register the death. Once the death has been registered, you will be given all of the paperwork required to arrange the funeral. If you are unsure about the process of registering a death in the UK, this guide will explain everything you need to know.
Registering a death in the UK
This step-by-step guide will cover:
- How long you have to register a death
- Registering a death in Scotland
- Where to register a death
- Who can register a death
- What you need to register a death
- What happens after you register a death
- How to get a Death Certificate
- What to do if a coroner is involved
The time limit for registering a death depends on where you are in the UK. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, you must register the death within five days. In Scotland, you will have up to eight days to register the death.
In order to register a death, you will need to find a register office closest to where the person died and make an appointment. Try and call the register office at the soonest available time to make an appointment, as they can get busy very quickly.
A death is typically registered by a close relative of the person who has died, however, if no relatives are available, the following people can also complete the registration:
- Any person present when the person died
- A person who lives in the house where the person died
- The person arranging the funeral, but not a funeral director
Once you have made an appointment to register a death with the local registrar, it's important to provide them with as much information about the deceased as possible. The registration process should take approximately 30 minutes.
You will need to take the following documents with you:
- Medical Certificate of Cause of Death - signed by a doctor
- Birth Certificate
- Council Tax bill
- Driving License
- Marriage/Civil Partnership Certificate, if applicable
- NHS Medical Card
- Proof of address
Don’t worry if all of this paperwork isn’t available, it’s not always essential to have everything. The most important piece of paperwork is the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, as without this you will not be able to register the death. Please contact our caring professionals if you have any concerns before your appointment.
You will also need to provide the registrar with the following information:
- The full name of the person who died
- Their full home address
- Their date and place of birth
- Details of where and when the person died
- Their occupation, if applicable
- If they were receiving any benefits, including pensions or allowance from public funds
- The name, occupation and date of birth of their spouse or civil partner, if applicable
After registering the death, you will be given a number of documents. These vary depending on where you are in the UK.
England and Wales
- Green Certificate for burial or cremation
- Certificate of Registration of Death - You may need to fill this in and send it to the social security office for the area where the person died. If this is the case, the form will come with a pre-paid envelope so you know where to send it
- Death Certificate - This will require a small fee and may be needed for legal or financial purposes
- Certificate of Registration of Death
- Registration or Notification of Death – You will need this to deal with the person’s affairs if they were getting a pension or benefits
- Death Certificate
- GRO21 form – This will give permission for the funeral to take place
- Certificate of Registration of Death
- Death Certificate
We recommend buying additional Death Certificates for when you’re sorting out your loved one’s affairs and finances.
A Death Certificate is an official notification issued by a registrar declaring that a death has occurred; this is also required subsequently for managing an estate. It is a statutory certificate issued at the time in which a person taking responsibility for the funeral arrangements registers the death.
The certificate offers the name and surname of the deceased, their sex, age, birth details, occupation, the cause of death, when and where the person died, a description and residence of the informant, when the death was registered and the signature of the registrar.
When registering a death, it is important to ask for additional copies of the Death Certificate as you may need to give them to insurance, bank or pension companies. You may also be required to give copies to the executor or administrator of the Will who is dealing with the property and finances of the person who has passed away.
How much is a Death Certificate?
The cost of a Death Certificate varies across the UK. Each certified copy will cost £11.00 in England and Wales, £8.00 in Northern Ireland and £10.00 in Scotland.
If you do not purchase additional copies at the register office, you can get copies from the General register Office (England and Wales), the General Register Office Northern Ireland or National Records Scotland at a later date.
Please be aware that photocopies of a Death Certificate are not typically accepted by legal, financial or insurance companies.
Who can collect a Death Certificate?
The following people can register a death and therefore will be able to collect a Death Certificate:
- A relative
- Someone who was with the person when they died
- Someone who lives at the address where the person died
- Someone who is arranging the funeral, but not the funeral director
How long does it take to get a Death Certificate?
If a loved one has passed away, you must register the death within five days, or eight days if you live in Scotland. The Death Certificate will be issued at your appointment and you will be able to purchase additional copies at the register office.
If you purchase copies at a later date, they are sent after 14 working days. Should you require a copy sooner than this, you can use the priority service for £23.40 and it will be sent the next working day.
When a loved one sadly dies suddenly or unexpectedly, a coroner or procurator fiscal may be called to investigate the death. It is their duty to identify how, when and where the person died for official records, as well as for giving some level of understanding to friends and family of the deceased.
If this is the case, the death must be reported by the doctor, hospital or registrar to the coroner, or procurator fiscal in Scotland.
Unfortunately, this may delay your funeral plans as a post-mortem or inquest will usually take place. Dignity’s support and advice team will be able to help you should a coroner become involved.
Do you need help registering a death?
Contact your local Funeral Director today. They will be able to talk you through the process and advise you on your nearest register office.
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