Registering a death

Registration should take place prior to the funeral. A relative of the deceased usually registers the death. If no relative is available then the duty may be performed by any person present at the death, the occupier of the premises where the death took place, or the person who is accepting responsibility for arranging the funeral. It may be necessary to arrange an appointment with the Registrar.

Who can register a death?

In the event of a death one of the following persons has a legal obligation to register the death:

  • a relative of the deceased
  • a person present at the death
  • a person arranging the funeral (not the undertaker)

In certain circumstances others, such as the administrator of an elderly persons home can register a death, for advice please contact the Register Office.

If the coroner is involved.

In cases where the death as been reported to the coroner, if the deceased has not been attended by his/her doctor within 14 days or death occurs suddenly then the death will be reported to the coroner for area where the death took place. The coroner will have to establish the cause of death; this is normally done by a post mortem. The deceased will remain under the coroner’s jurisdiction until the cause of death has been established and only then will the coroner release the deceased for the funeral to take place. The coroner’s procedure usually only takes a few days. The funeral director will keep the relatives informed of the situation. The funeral directors will then be told when the family can register the death. The coroner’s court will issue the death certificate.

When should I register a death?

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, a death should be registered within five days of its happening. Registration can be delayed for a further nine days provided the registrar receives, in writing, confirmation that a medical certificate of the cause of death has been signed by the doctor.

What is needed to register?

You have to register a death in the Registration District where the death took place, although it is possible to give a declaration of the details to be registered to a registrar in another area.

You will need to provide the following information about the deceased:-

  • Full name, surname
  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Occupation
  • Maiden surname, if applicable
  • If the person who has died was married, widowed or in a Civil Partnership the full names and occupation of the spouse/partner.

You will need to bring a medical certificate of cause of death issued by a doctor. If the death has been referred to the Coroner, the Coroner’s officer will advise you what to do.

If the deceased received a pension or allowance from public funds, eg: Civil service or army pension please inform the registrar.

Supporting documents for the deceased to help with: Supporting document:
Full name, surname Passport or driving licence or full birth certificate
Address Utility bill
Date of birth Passport or driving licence or birth certificate
Place of birth Birth certificate
Occupation n/a
Maiden surname, if applicable Marriage certificate
If the person who has died was married, widowed or in a Civil Partnership the full names and occupation of the spouse/partner Marriage certificate