Dignity

Funeral Services

Registering a death

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.

How to register a death in the UK

This step-by-step guide will cover:

How long do you have to register a death?

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. 

Where to register a 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.

You can find a register office and make an appointment here

Who can register a death?

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

What do you need to register a death?

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
  • Passport
  • 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

What happens after you register a death?

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

Scotland

  • 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

Northern Ireland

  • 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.

Find out how much a Death Certificate costs in the UK.

What if a coroner is involved?

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.

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