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How to get a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death

One of the first things you need to do after a loved one passes away is to get a Medical Certificate of the Cause of Death. This is an extremely important step, as without this Certificate, you won’t be able to register the death at your local register office.

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 is a Death Certificate?

A Medical Certificate of Cause of Death can often be confused with a Death Certificate.

  • Medical Certificate of Cause of Death: A piece of paper issued by a doctor after someone has died. It details the cause of death and is required to register the death.

  • Death Certificate: A statutory certificate issued by the Registrar, at the time that the person taking responsibility for the funeral arrangements registers the death. This is official notification that the death has occurred and is required for managing an estate. 

Find out more information about how to get a Death Certificate.

What to do when a Medical Certificate of Death 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.

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